Depression is a very common and serious medical illness that affects a person’s way of thinking, his actions and his feeling negatively. Read the info below to know more about depression causes, symptoms, effects and cure.
What is depression?
Clinical depression is a very serious illness that will affect the way those who undergo it feel and think. It will affect them both physically and mentally. Despite its gravity it is a very common mental affliction in nowadays society. In fact, more than 300 million people over the world suffer from depression and it is the major cause of disability in the world leading sometimes to extreme actions like suicide which is the second leading cause of death among young people who are between the ages of 15 to 29 years old, according to the World Health Organization.
It is associated with being sad, but sadness is a momentary feeling that everyone experiences at some point in life and then gets over it soon enough. When this feeling of sadness becomes severe and stays even as time goes by, it becomes what we know as depression.
This emotional disorder will take some time to go away and long term treatment may be needed in order for the patient to get better. The biggest issue with clinical depression is that even though there are treatments to help overcome the disease, not even half of those who are affected by it get said treatments. Another issue is that quite often people get misdiagnosed, which delays the real diagnose and so the treatment can’t be applied.
This is a very serious illness and not treating it can be very dangerous as it will only make it worse. Lack of treatment can lead to a wide range of emotional and health problems like overweight that lead to heart disease or diabetes, physical pain, inappropriate alcohol (or other drugs) consumption, anxiety, panic disorder, social phobia, family conflict, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and suicide attempts.
Overall, depression is a mental illness that can affect absolutely anyone, no matter what their social status, income, profession or age are.
Preventing depression is easier than overcoming it. It can be done by taking action to control one’s stress, working on your self esteem, being close to family and friends (specially while going through a difficult time) and asking for help at the first sign or suspicion of suffering from depression.
Types of depression
Depression can be categorized as mild, moderate or severe depending on the amount of symptoms a patient is experiencing and the gravity of those symptoms.
Apart from these levels of depression there are different forms of this illness. Some of them are the following:
Melancholia: this is a severe form of depression that include low moods and loss of interest in activities that the patients used to enjoy and get pleasure from. These people often tend to physically move slower.
Psychotic depression: this is a type of depression where the patient loses contact with reality and experiences psychosis which could include hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.
Antenatal or postnatal depression: this type of depression is quite common in moms who are still going through pregnancy or on the first year after giving birth due to the hormonal changes that being pregnant involve. This kind of depression can affect bot the mom and her relationship with her child as well as with her partner and other family members.
There are other more complex forms of depression like bipolar disorder which combine periods of depression with mania which is the exact opposite of depression but we will not be getting into that in this article.
What are main depression symptoms?
Depression will affect every individual who suffers from it in a different way. Indeed, it is more common for women than men to suffer from this condition due to hormonal and biological factors. However, there is a list of common depression symptoms that depression patients may experience.
- Those common symptoms would be the following:
- overwhelming feelings of sadness or emptiness,
- feeling hopelessness,
- experiencing irritability (specially in teenagers),
- suffering a loss of interest for activities they used to enjoy,
- feeling constantly tired,
- having difficulty to focus or to remember details,
- going through some changes in personality,
- experiencing indecisiveness,
- not being able to get enough sleep or on the contrary, sleeping too much,
- having a loss of appetite or as opposed, suddenly starting to eat too much, Learn More how depression affects a person’s weight!
- having suicidal thoughts or even attempting suicide,
- getting headaches and/or different types of stomach afflictions,
- feeling excessive guilt or uselessness that is not justified,
- suffering a lack of interest in socializing and leaving the house,
- going through loss of interest for sex.
What are depression causes?
This mental disorder may be caused by a wide variety of different circumstances or factors and there is no known exact cause for depression. However, we have listed a few different factors that can cause someone to go through depression.
In the first place, depression could be caused by biological or chemical factors. These patients present very high levels of a hormone called cortisol as well as other chemicals that can affect the brain in different ways like serotonine, dopamine, noradrenaline and neurotransmitters.
Secondly, it is important to point out that genetics can have something to do with suffering from depression as well. Some studies have shown that one is more likely to go through depression if someone in their bloodline suffered from it before.
Hormones can also play a part in the appearance of this mental illness., being this the main reason why females are more prone to depression, as their bodies experience many different hormonal changes during their life cycle.
There also some contributing factors that, don’t really cause depression, but seem to increase the chances of undergoing this illness.
One of these factor may be stress originated from going through some kind of traumatic life experience such as losing a loved relative or being the victim of some king of sexual aggression among others.
Some personality characteristics like low self esteem, being pessimistic, too auto-critical or too dependent on someone else, may also be triggers for this kind of mental disorder.
Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people who live in unsupportive environments can also suffer depression as a result.
Depression may also be triggered as a result of alcohol abuse or any other kind of substance, as well as some prescribed drugs.
Having suffered from other kinds of disorders like eating disorders, PTSD or anxiety can also end up causing depression.
How to cure depression?
When it comes to finding a way to overcome depression, one very significant factor is the environment that surrounds the patient. The individual will need their family and close friends to support them through the illness, fill them with love and tenderness and show them lots of understanding and patience.
It is also very important that the people surrounding a depression patient don’t force them to have any conversations they don’t want to have, or do any activities that they don’t desire to do. This, as well as getting some extra help and support from going to professional therapy sessions will be crucial in the patient’s recovery.
Once the patient is diagnosed with depression, they must start their treatment. Said treatment usually consists on combining pharmacological therapy along with psychological support from a professional, which as we just mentioned is crucial. It is very important that once the patient begins the treatment they follow through with it until the end.
What types of Therapies can cure Depression?
Individual psychological treatments can be enough for those patients who suffer from mild depressions to be healed. When it comes to moderate or severe cases of depression antidepressants can be very helpful. However, these drugs are not used on children and are never the first line of treatment on depressed teenagers because of how strong they can be and due to their many possible adverse effects.
On the line of psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy seems to be one effective way of treating depression as it focuses on the present time and on solving the problem we are targeting. It is possible in depression therapy for other people to participate, not just the patient. This means that the patient’s family or partner can take part in the sessions. Group therapy is another options which includes other people who are suffering from a similar condition.
As we have already mentioned, when the patient suffers from moderate to severe depression medication needs to be combined with talk therapy. Antidepressants (which is the drug used) have the ability to modify people’s brains’ chemistry. As opposed to what people tend to believe, these drugs are not habit-forming.
For patients who suffer from the most severe cases of depression is a third alternate therapy which is called Electroconvulsive Therapy. This kind of treatment involves stimulating the brain through brief electrical impulses. This form of treatment usually leads to major improvements and requires being managed by a wider group of professionals like nurses, psychiatrists and anesthesiologists.
Overall, it is important to keep in mind that even though clinical depression is a very serious illness that affects millions and can’t be taken lightly, it is possible to get over it if the patient asks for medical help soon enough.