Depression: Symptoms, Causes, Risk-factors, Types, Treatment, and Prevention

What is depression?

Have you heard people saying, “Depression is all in your head”, well next time you hear someone saying that do note that it’s a myth? Someone who is suffering from depression can’t just let go the feeling or shut it off; people might also go to an extent and assume that the affected person is acting out as people only notice the emotional turmoil. Every person needs to understand that depression is a real disease, a mental condition that takes time to heal and treatments are available to cure it. Don’t just ignore your mental health with the thought it’s just a feeling; persistent feeling of low in energy, zero social interaction, self-isolation etc can be an indication that he/she is suffering from depression.

What is Depression?

Depression is a chronic condition that can get better with time and proper treatment. It can be regarded as a social, biological and psychological disorder. Anything can trigger depression or cause it, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a traumatic event. Feeling of worthless, loneliness, and sadness can be felt by anyone for a short duration of time. That can be regarded as a normal condition but with depression, such feelings stay with a person for quite a long time. A traumatic event in person life may increase the risk of depression to reach a severe level.

Yes, there lies a chance of developing depression if any of the family members previously had the disease but studies and researchers have found out that not much impact occurs rather only 10 to 15 % of the cases may develop depression. Most interestingly every person diagnosed with depression will not experience it the same way with the other person. Every depression condition carries certain differences due to hormonal changes, mood, physical issues, changes in the brain, and thought process. Men and women are equally affected by depression.

In the United States, men are four times more likely to commit suicide due to depression than women. Reports suggest that this increase of depression in men is due to certain factors like few men often are masked with the wrong notion that venting out the emotions is pathetic and silly, they also avoid treatment and therapy thinking that people will question their masculinity; all such things keep a lot of men from accepting the fact that they are suffering from depression and that they need help along with adequate treatment.

Symptoms of depression

Many people get confused with the feeling of sadness and depression thinking that both are same. Depression can arrive by a sad feeling that may last for a few days or extend to one year or more. The difficult part with depression is that unlike sadness depressing doesn’t wear off on its own. If depression is not treated in time it can lead to serious consequences like suicidal thoughts or in extreme cases may also lead to suicide. Therefore it is very important to know and understand the signs and symptoms of depression. The symptoms of depression in men, women, and teenagers differ; depression can also affect children.

Symptoms of depression in men include-

  • Anger issues
  • Memory loss, not able to remember minor details
  • Unable to go about with their day to day responsibilities
  • Feeling frequently tired
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia or changes in sleeping pattern
  • Suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Body pain or cramps
  • Lack of sex drive

Symptoms of depression in women are-

  • Constant guilt feel
  • Easily triggered to lose tempered
  • Getting detached from activities that she once enjoyed doing
  • Memory loss
  • Body pain
  • Hopelessness
  • Isolating self from all social interaction
  • Suicidal thoughts or in extreme cases suicide attempts

Symptoms of depression in children-

  • Low in energy
  • Facing difficulty in concentration
  • Frequent complains about suffering from stomachaches, headaches that don’t go away with medication
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Lack of appetite or eating too much than usual
  • Becoming sensitive to rejection
  • Sudden crying or vocal outburst
  • Lack of interest in participating in school activities or joining family functions
  • Poor performance in academics

It must be noted that not all children will undergo all such symptoms, some may experience a few while others may have a few add on like change in appearance (weight loss or tired look) or at times children may switch to using alcohol or drugs from the age of 12 years. Young girls can be emotionally very unstable while young boys might get into a fight very easily with others or harm themselves. If a child has a family history of alcohol abuse, sexual abuse or alcohol abuse than he/she carries a greater risk of such a strong mood or impulsive behaviour.

Symptoms of depression
Symptoms of depression

Causes of depression

The causes of depression can be regarded as biological as well as circumstantial. A few common causes of depression are-

  • Childhood trauma- past traumatic can leave lasting impressions on any person’s life, leading to causing an extreme amount of panic, stress, and fear; which can further develop to depression.
  • Medical condition- medical conditions such as insomnia, chronic illness or ADHD-attention-deficit hyperactive disorder may put a person at risk.
  • Genetic-if a person has a family history of depression or any other mental disorder; he/she might get affected by this chronic disease
  • Overuse of drugs-alcohol or drug abuse can also lead to depression
  • Stress-a chronic stress condition can lead to major depression

Certain risk factors can contribute to developing depression, a list of certain factors are-

  • Low self-confidence
  • Medications
  • Stressful events or economic/financial crisis
  • A personal loss like heartbreak or divorce
  • Being too self-critical

Treatment of depression

There is no set test-format to diagnose depression, all major depression cases are examined based on the symptoms the person is experiencing or any kind of psychological evaluation. At first, the doctor will start by asking about a few things about your mood swings, sleeping pattern, recent food cycle, thought process, activity level and recent interactions. Depression can also indicate other underlying health conditions that might have not been diagnosed yet.

Mental health conditions are extremely difficult to handle and depression can throw at a person serious hurdles. Treatments can reduce the effects and can also cure it. It is very important to openly discuss with your doctor about how you’re feeling and about the challenges that depression is causing. Doing so will help the doctor to guide and set for you an adequate format and medication to improve your mental health.

Depression can get better with a combination of lifestyle changes, therapies, and medications. The doctor may prescribe antidepressants, antipsychotic, and anti-anxiety medications. Having a conversation with the therapist can also help a lot to cope up with the feelings. A supportive family can tremendously improve the mental health of a person, try to make the depressed person feel loved and take care of them in little ways possible.

Did you know? There is also a therapy known as light therapy which helps to regulate the mood and get rid of the symptoms of depression. In this therapy the doctor or psychiatrist exposes the patent to doses of white light; this therapy is mainly used for people suffering from the major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern. Alternative therapies like meditation, acupuncture or herbal supplements might work for certain depressed patients.

Types of depression

Some of the types of depression that can affect any person-

  • Major depression

This kind of depression tends to show symptoms that last the entire day, accompanied by disturbed sleeping pattern, unexplained body aches, loss of interest in actively participating in social events or gatherings, lack of energy and loss of appetite. Major depression can affect relationships and hamper day-to-day activities.

  • Persistent depression

It can last for more than a few months. Persistent depression as the name suggests is a chronic condition where the person experiences a lack of concentration, memory loss, deep sadness, low self-confidence, and inability to enjoy things that he/she once experienced. Appropriate care must be taken as this kind of depression has been reported to last more than a year due to which patients often start to feel the symptoms as part of their daily life.

  • Bipolar disorder or manic depression

Bipolar disorder patients’ experiences alternate episodes of depression where the symptoms may last for a week or less. The symptoms of this kind of depression are similar to that of major depression. In severe cases of this type of depression can lead to experience delusions and hallucination which can be very disturbing.

  • Depressive psychosis

In depressive psychosis, there are chances that the person may lose in touch with reality along with hallucination and delusions. Symptoms of depressive psychosis include problem in sitting or movement issues.

How to beat depression?
How to beat depression?

Prevention of depression

Depression is a serious condition and is not a feeling that a person can “sleep-off”. Depression is not given attention and treatment can lead to major complications like frequent fights that may involve harming self or the other person, disturbance in balancing work-life with personal life and the worst part, it can lead to suicides or multiple suicide attempts. Depression is a mental condition that does not discriminate, if you’re thinking that only weak people are affected by depression that’s a thing that must be noted that no person decides if he/she can be depressed or not and it has nothing to do with physical strength.

Preventive measures might help a lot to build a healthy mental condition with good food and positive thoughts. Avoid drugs and alcohol; yes such toxic things can help to feel better only for some time but in the long run, such things only make things worse. Learn to say no, set your boundaries and give time and enough care for yourself. Do things that once made you happy, exercise, listen to some music, explore nature, take up a trip, talk to people with whom you feel comfortable with and most importantly think positive, as the famous quote says, “This too shall pass”.

FAQs

Que1. Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance?

Ans- Yes, depression-like clinical depression is known to be caused by a chemical imbalance.

Que2. Can depression change your voice?

Ans- Depression does not necessarily change your voice but it can change the way you talk

Que3. What part of the brain does depression affect?

Ans- Depression may affect the hippocampus that stores memories.

Que4. Does depression cause hair loss?

Ans- Depression can cause hair to become brittle, dry and break easily

Que5. Can depression make you gain weight?

Ans- During depression if a person experience symptoms like increase in appetite or overeating, it can lead to weight gain.

Que6. What is long term depression called?

Ans- Long term depression is also termed as a persistent depressive disorder.

Que7. Can you die from being too sad?

Ans- Untreated depression can lead to developing suicidal thoughts and at times suicide attempts.

Que8. What foods are good for depression?

Ans- Omega-3 fatty acids rich food like dark green vegetables, nuts, fatty fish, flaxseed etc are good for depression

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