“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Depression is characterized by low mood and sad emotional states. It is one of the most common psychological problems across the globe. When a person is going through depression he is likely to feel sad and lose interest in activities that were of considerable joy before.
Misattribution of Depression
However, the term is also widely misused and even a slight change in mood for a short interval commonly attributed to depression. Therefore we need to have information on when to attribute your emotional states as pathologically depressive and seek help from a mental health practitioner. Temporary short term feeling of sadness is not depression. In case you are facing an external situation where it is natural to be sad then feeling sad is not depression it is bereavement. Depression is largely intrinsic and occurs due to internal emotional imbalance not due to external factors. Moreover, bereavement is also temporary and fades away with the passage of time but depression will not go away unless it is treated properly.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Have you been feeling sad lately and are wondering if you have got depression? You need to know that being sad is not the only symptom of depression. Depression comes with changes in many of the body functioning and causes significant distress. The most common symptoms faced by depressed people are the following:
- Low mood
- Lack of interest
- Changes in body weight
- Fatigue and laziness
- Changes in physical activities
- Changes in attention span and focus
- Feeling worthless
- Feeling guilty
- Changes in sleep pattern
Moreover these symptoms must cause significant impairment in daily life functioning and must be persistent only then you can attribute them as indicators of depression.
Get Help for Depression
When it comes to physical disorders we run to the doctor but when it comes to mental health problems it gets a bit difficult to understand when to consult a mental health practitioner. Specifically when it comes to depression then you must consult a psychologist or a psychiatrist if the symptoms last more than two weeks. You must also consider your medical issues and tell your medical history to the mental health practitioner because some medical conditions or medications can also cause depressive symptoms.
Causes of Depression
Depression is not limited to people who are facing problems or unfortunate situations throughout their life span. People who are living in ideal conditions get depressed too. The celebrities also face this mental health problem although we always want to live a life that they do and consider their life conditions ideal but they too suffer from depression. The following are some risk factors of depression.
- Heredity: Depression can be genetically transmitted therefore a family history of depression makes you vulnerable.
- Chemical Imbalance: Changes in biochemistry can cause depression. Brain chemical imbalance, hormonal disturbances and improper neurotransmitter production can all causes of depression.
- Personality Characteristics: Pessimistic people are more prone to depression. This is because they themselves create a saddening environment all the time.
- Surroundings: Continuous exposure to grief causing circumstances can cause depression. The reason is that continuous traumas can alter neurochemistry and therefore play a contributing role in development of depression in a person.
Treatment of Depression
As depression is one of the most common mental health issues the good thing is that it is also one of the most treatable ones. Most people recover fully from depression after effective treatment.
Treatment Phase 1: Diagnosis
The mental health practitioner will take a detailed patient history. After obtaining patient history he will recommend some medical tests to ensure that the problem is purely psychological and not due to another medical condition present. If the depressive states are due to the presence of some other medical condition then it is likely that depressive symptoms will subside after the medical condition is treated. Moreover the medicines that a person is already taking are also checked to see if they are inducing depressing as a side effect or not. Use of drugs are also contributing factor to depression therefore that may also be checked through blood test if the person has history of using drugs in the past. After this standardized psychological tests may or may not be done.
Treatment Phase 2: Psychotherapy and Medication
Depression cannot be effectively treated without medication therefore antidepressants are prescribed in order to provide patient with relief. They are not dizziness inducing nor habit- forming. They need one to two weeks to start showing their effect. Effective recovery needs more than two months to appear. Psychotherapy is used for mild depression but for severe cases, it is used along with medication for better treatment. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the best type of anti depressants to date. Depressive conditions are due to lack of serotonin therefore these help reduce reuptake and increase the level of serotonin and therefore depressive symptoms start to subside without any major side effects that other antidepressants used to have in the past. Cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapies are used for effective treatment of depression along with antidepressants.