The year 2020 has given us many lessons than in any year of our life till now, no? The year started with a bush-fire in Australia, novel coronavirus outbreak worldwide causing lock-down till today, earthquakes, locust swarms, crashes and many more to count. It is the most depressing year for everyone, but wait, do you even believe in depression? Is mental illness reality? Is mental health more important than physical health? Are you depressed? While thinking of these questions, we see examples of suicides by depressed people, and the question comes to mind, how can that be true? The most cheerful personality or the silent can be mentally ill, and reason can be anything from education, employment, bad treatment from loved/closed ones, the own battle with life and so forth.
Do you know that the second leading cause of suicide is depression! The average age of suicidal people is 16, that’s not even adult age! What is causing so young generation to think and act on suicide? Let’s know about it in detail:
What is Depression?
It is a common mental illness, ranging from short term mood fluctuations and behavioural changes to long term health conditions affecting people’s behaviour at school, work and in the family. It affects a person negatively, causing a feeling of sadness or losing interest in activities a person once enjoyed. The variety of emotional problems can lead to physical problems, for example, depression and anxiety changes your appetite, effects on sleep etc. It is very common to feel too sleepy or spend sleepless nights when tense, right?
What Causes Depression?
- Environmental factors like physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Certain drugs may bring changes in brain chemistry and can lead to depression.
- Conflict, the biological vulnerability to develop depression may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.
- Though natural, Death or a loss of a loved one increases the risk of depression.
- Genetics play an important role in our life in deciding our features, nature, behaviour and genes. A family history of depression increases the risk of experiencing depression as a psychiatric disorder.
- Major events bringing huge changes in lifestyle like a new job, getting married, divorce, retirement can lead to depression.
- Personal problems causing isolation from family and social groups, friend circle can develop risks of depression.
- Sometimes depression co-exists with a serious illness or may be triggered by another medical condition.
- Substance abuse that is alcohol, drugs and pills may give an experience of temporary relaxation, in reality, it aggravates the depression.
Symptoms of Depression:
General symptoms may include but not limited to:
-Feeling sad or depressed, empty mood
-Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, irritability, restlessness
-Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
-Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain
-Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
-Loss of energy or increased fatigue
-Increase in purposeless physical activity or actions observable by others
-Feeling worthless or guilty
-Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
-Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression is Different From Sadness:
Though feeling sad is one of the symptoms of depression, sadness is not always causing depression. It is natural to feel sad and grieved when we lose our dear ones, fail in some attempt like exams, interview or lose any great opportunity in our career, and lose a big deal in business or injured self-esteem. One of the major reasons for today’s generation to feel sad is the end of a relationship, but that does not come under depression.
Types of Depression:
- Major depression—Two weeks or longer of symptoms of depression interfering with a person’s abilities to work, study, concentrate, sleep, eat and overall life comes under major depression. It can be once in a lifetime or repeat often.
- Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)—Repetition of major depression with less severe symptoms lasting for at least two years is a persistent depressive disorder.
Is Depression Treatable?
Medications like antidepressants are used to modify brain chemistry to stimulate feelings of depression. Generally, these medications are not habit-forming and not sedatives. For mild depression, psychotherapy along with medications is used. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is used to focus on problem-solving by focusing on a person’s distorted thinking and thinking and behavioural changes. The person not responding to any of the above treatment is diagnosed by Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). It involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anaesthesia is typically two to three times a week for a total of six to 12.