Shweta would keep feeling blue and disinterested in being with friends. She did not want to carry on with her usual activities. Work seemed like a burden to her and jokes stopped making her laugh. She thought that as time would pass she would feel better. But her feelings of inertia and listlessness steadily increased. Soon she developed suicidal tendencies. Little did she realise that she was succumbing to a psychological disorder called depression. One in four persons suffers from a mental illness in their lifetime. Unfortunately, most do not even seek treatment.
What is Depression?
Depression is a psychological disorder with pervasive feelings of depressive moods. It is triggered due to an imbalance in brain chemicals. There need not be an event or incident that stimulates depression. One might feel depressed even for no reason at all. The term depression is mostly used to describe a temporary mood called, 'feeling blue'.
The morbidity rate of depression is higher than that of stoke or diabetes. According to the WHO by 2020 depression will be the second most mortal health problem, globally.
People ignore depressive feelings, by believing that they will subside with time. But depression is not something you can just snap out of. Taking advice from friends and relatives may not be the best thing to do. It needs to be treated with professional help.
Causes of Depression
There may not be just a single cause for depression but it could be a combination of many causes. A few of them are listed below:
- Having a hereditary problem that leads to chemical imbalances in the brain.
- Being in a negative social environment.
- Taking anti-depressants that change the levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals in brain).
- Consuming excessive processed foods.
- Following a hectic lifestyle, long working hours and insignificant leisure time.
- Living under high levels of stress.
- Developing low self-esteem and a pessimist personality.
- Suffering from medical conditions like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and hypertension.
- Having poor sleep quality and insomnia.
- Developing post partum depression i.e. depression that occurs after giving birth due to hormonal changes in the body.
- Suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Experiencing negative life incidents and stressors.
Symptoms of Depression
It becomes easier to identify depression if you are aware of the symptoms. Consulting a psychiatrist can be a good idea in case of severe persistence of more than three of the following signs for about two weeks.
- Feelings of sadness, anxiety and emptiness.
- Experiencing loss of appetite, weight gain or weight loss.
- Being restless or irritable.
- Finding it difficult to think, remember and make decisions.
- Feeling sluggish, low energy levels and loss of interest in social activities.
- Getting up in the middle of night or insomnia.
- Feeling lonely.
- Trying to avoid attention.
- Finding high noise levels intolerable.
- Feeling constantly sick or getting headaches.
- Fatigue sets in and you feel worthless.
- Feelings of ending life or suicidal tendencies.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can be a victim of depression. People get affected depending upon their genetic predisposition, life experiences, situations, incidents and personalities. Individuals can suffer from depression regardless of their age, sex and religion. But individuals who are suffering from seriousmedical conditions or those who have experienced negative life incidents are more at risk.
Once you have identified the symptoms, do not leave yourself unattended. Find the right ways to come out of depression. Some basic but crucial action points have been listed below:
- Consult a psychiatrist.
- Follow prescribed medication and therapy.
- Talk to somebody you trust about how you feel.
- Try taking up a new hobby, even if it seems hard.
- Avoid being alone.
Does it seem like you are on the edge of going under depression? If yes, then you can try the following tips to avert depression. Preventing depression can be difficult at first but regular efforts can save you of further suffering.
- Pay attention to your feelings of sadness, anxiety and irritability.
- Get your headache cured: a warm oil massage can do wonders.
- Make your bed comfortable and sleep well. Sleep early, so you get enough sleep. Have a cup of warm milk before going to bed.
- Treat yourself to a body massage, a pedicure, a manicure, a bath salt soak or a new outfit.
- Try aromatherapy oils.
- Have a balanced diet; avoid aerated drinks and junk foods.
- Begin your day by listening religious audio CD that permeates peace.
- Stay away from cigarettes, alcohol or substance abuse.
- Stay in touch with friends.
- Take walks. Exercise helps fight depression.
- Join a dance class. It will keep you happy.
- Be positive. Say nice things to yourself.
- Join a laughter club or invest in a CD of a comedy TV series.
Consulting a psychiatrist helps
A visit to a psychiatrist is not just meant for a person with an extreme mental illness. It is very different from taking advice from your friends. Psychiatrists can help identify problems objectively with a professional outlook.
When we have a headache, we try everything we can to get rid of the pounding pain. But we ignore our moods, feelings and emotions that keep calling out for our attention. We easily take for granted the need of consulting a psychiatrist.
After consultation a psychiatrist may prescribe medication or even psychotherapy sessions, depending upon your condition. Speaking to a psychiatrist can help improve the situation to a great extent. Once you have come out of depression, watch out for the symptoms in future. Keep up the lifestyle you have embraced. After following these rules if depression raises its ugly head again, treat it before it becomes monstrous. Remember, your mental health affects your physical health and vice versa. Improve thequality of life by treating both.
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- The Indiaparenting Team