Depression is a serious condition. It’s also unfortunately, a common one. The World Health Organization characterizes depression as one of the most disabling disorders in the world, affecting roughly one in five women and one in ten men at some point in their lifetime.
Depression does not discriminate. Men and women of every age, educational level, and social and economic background suffer from depression. There is no area of life that does not suffer when depression is present. Marriage, parenting, friendship, career, finance – every aspect of daily living is compromised by this disease. Once an episode of depression occurs, it is also quite likely that it will recur. And the impact of depression can be even more severe when it occurs in combination with other medical illnesses such as diabetes, stroke, or cardiovascular disease, or with related disorders such as anxiety or substance abuse.
The problems caused by depression are made worse by the fact that most people suffering from the disease are never diagnosed, let alone treated. The good news is that when depression is promptly identified and treated, its symptoms are manageable and there are many effective strategies for living with the disease.
Most people have felt sad or depressed at times. Feeling depressed can be a normal reaction to loss, life’s struggles, or an injured self-esteem.
But when feelings of intense sadness — including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless — last for many days to weeks and keep you from functioning normally, your depression may be something more than sadness. It may very well be clinical depression — a treatable medical condition.
How do I know if I have Depression?
According to the DSM-5, a manual used to diagnose mental disorders, depression occurs when you have at least five of the following symptoms at the same time:
* A depressed mood during most of the day, particularly in the morning
* Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
* Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
* Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
* Insomnia (an inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
* Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day
* Recurring thoughts of death or suicide (not just fearing death)
* A sense of restlessness or being slowed down
* Significant weight loss or weight gain
A key sign of depression is either depressed mood or loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. For a diagnosis of depression, these signs should be present most of the day either daily or nearly daily for at least two weeks. In addition, the depressive symptoms need to cause clinically significant distress or impairment. They cannot be due to the direct effects of a substance, for example, a drug or medication. Nor can they be the result of a medical condition such as hypothyroidism.
What are the symptoms of Depression?
Depression commonly affects your thoughts, your emotions, your behaviours and your overall physical health. Here are some of the most common symptoms that point to the presence of depression:
Feelings: Sadness, Hopelessness, Guilt, Moodiness, Angry outbursts, Loss of interest in friends, family and favorite activities, including sex
Thoughts: Trouble concentrating, Trouble making decisions, Trouble remembering, Thoughts of harming yourself, Delusions and/or hallucinations can also occur in cases of severe depression
Behaviours: Withdrawing from people, Substance abuse, Missing work, school or other commitments, Attempts to harm yourself
Physical problems: Tiredness or lack of energy, Unexplained aches and pains, Changes in appetite, Weight loss, Weight gain, Changes in sleep – sleeping too little or too much, sexual problems
Of course, all of us can expect to experience one or more of these symptoms on occasion. An occurrence of any one of these symptoms on its own does not constitute depression. When healthcare professionals suspect depression, they commonly look for clusters of these symptoms occurring regularly for two weeks or longer, and impacting functional aspects of the person’s life.
Treatment for Depression
Here are a few treatment options your doctor may recommend:
2) Talk Therapy: cognitive behavioural therapy like talking to friends or loved ones, speak up to a psychologist
3) Lifestyle Change: Have a routine, exercise, sleep well, have a journal, eat well
Depression can affect many different areas of your life. As a result your doctor may recommend specific lifestyle changes that include exercise, nutrition and proper sleep. Another good idea may be to reach out to friends and family for support, as well as taking time to be social with others.
Getting help for your depression can change your life. Do not wait – depression is an illness that can, and should, be treated.
The knowledge or awareness itself of the disease and the distrbution of this knowledge awakens the masses to be sensitive and caring in personal and public life
-Inputs from Bhavna Barmi, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Fortis ESCORTS Heart Institute