What is Depression?

Depression can be defined as a medical illness that leads to a continuous feeling of sadness or loss of interest. Depression basically affects the person’s thoughts, feelings, behaviour and sense of well being.

What are the causes of Depression?

The exact cause of Depression is still unknown.  A variety of factors leads to Depression. Some of the known causes of Depression are as follows:

  • Hormones: Hormonal changes can cause or trigger Depression. Hormonal changes can be caused due to thyroid problems, menopause in women or various other conditions.

  • Inherited traits: Depression is a common condition in people whose family members also suffer from the same condition. Researchers are trying to figure out the genes that may be involved in causing Depression.

  • Biological differences: People suffering from Depression have some physical changes in their brains. The cause of the same is still uncertain.

  • Neurotransmitters: they are brain chemicals that occur naturally and are directly linked to mood and are thought to play a direct role in causing Depression.

  • Life events: Life events are among the most common causes, which lead to Depression. For example: death or loss of a loved one, high stress, loss of job, divorce and financial problems are some of the reasons that can trigger Depression in people.

  • Early childhood trauma: Many events during childhood, like loss of parent or child abuse may cause permanent changes in the brain that can make a person more susceptible to Depression.

What are the types of Depression?

There are many forms of Depressive Disorders like:

  • Major Depression: it is a combination of symptoms that disrupt the person’s ability to sleep, work, study, eat, and enjoy the activities that once the person loved.  Major Depression basically disables and prevents the person from functioning normally.  People may experience Major Depression once in their life time, but at other times a person may experience multiple episodes.

  • Dysthymia: it can be defined by long term symptoms that may not be severe to disable a person, but can prevent the normal functioning of the person. People suffering from Dysthymia, may have experienced one or more episodes of major Depression during their lifetime.

  • Minor Depression: it can be defined by symptoms prevailing for 2 weeks or longer, but they do not meet the full criteria for major Depression. Without proper treatment, people suffering from Minor Depression are at high risk for developing Major Depression.

  • Some forms of Depression are different and usually may develop under some unique circumstances.

  • Psychotic Depression:  it usually occurs when a person is suffering from Depression and from some form of psychosis; like breaking with reality or disturbing false beliefs or hallucinations.

  • Postpartum Depression:  it is basically associated with social, chemical and psychological changes that take place when a woman is giving birth to a child.  The term postpartum Depression describes the range of emotional and physical changes that a women experiences while giving birth.

  • Seasonal affective disorder:  it is basically a mood disorder that occurs every year at the same time. In general the seasonal affective disorder starts in winter and ends in early summer. In some cases it starts in summer and ends in winter. 

What are the signs and symptoms of Depression?

The signs and symptoms of Depression include:

  • Feelings of unhappiness or sadness

  • Irritation or frustration on petty issues

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities

  • Reduced sex drive

  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping

  • Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements

  • Feeling of guilt or helplessness

  • Decreased energy or fatigue

  • Overeating or appetite loss

  • Suicidal tendency

  • Difficulty in remembering details or making decisions

  • Lack of concentration

  • Crying spells for no reason

  • Angry outbursts

  • Aches or pains, cramps or digestive problems

For some people, the symptoms are so severe, that it is obvious that something is not right, whereas some people feel unhappy or miserable without even knowing the reason behind it. Depression affects every individual in different ways, so the symptoms also vary from person to person. The age, gender or say even the cultural background play a crucial role in how Depression may affect a person.

What are the effects of Depression?

There are many effects on our body that are caused due to Depression.

  • Insomnia: the regular pattern of sleep is disrupted when a person is suffering from Depression. This tendency develops due to the restlessness and irritation.

  • Weight fluctuation: Depression leads to over eating or eating less, which gradually results in Weight loss or gain. At times overeating, with no physical activity also leads to fluctuation in weight.

  • Physical symptoms: headache, digestion problems, body ache and fatigue are some common symptoms that are associated with Depression.

  • Thyroid Disease: there is no fixed connection between Depression and thyroid disease. But the patients suffering from thyroid disease are more depressed than the average individual.

  • Depression affects according to the age: Depression affects people according to their age. For example, a child undergoing Depression may experience insecurity, irritation, restlessness, whereas the adults or older people may experience Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke or even chronic pulmonary disease.

  • Heart problems and blood pressure: if Depression worsens, there are increased chances of a person contracting a heart disease. Depression is also the leading cause of high blood pressure and stroke. Depression and stress are the main causes that lead to heart diseases.

Which consultant should be consulted if a person is suffering from Depression?

A person undergoing Depression should consult a General Physician or a Clinical Psychiatrist.

Can a person overcome Depression?

Consulting a Clinical Psychiatrist on regular basis for a “talk therapy” helps the person to deal with the illness in everyday life. There are many types of psychotherapy or “talk therapy”, that can help people overcome Depression. For people suffering from mild to moderate Depression, psychotherapy may be the best remedy available. But for people suffering from severe or major Depression, a combination of medication and psychotherapy may be the most effective remedy. Depression has to be treated systematically, which also requires active physical and mental participation of the affected person.

How can a person help him/ herself if they are depressed?

The following measures may help a person, undergoing Depression:

  • If a person is depressed, he/she should not wait too long to get themselves treated or evaluated.

  • One should educate themselves about Depression

  • Should replace negative thinking, with positive thinking

  • Go for a movie, a game or any event that once enjoyed

  • Spending time with people or a trusted friend with whom u can share your thoughts or problems.

  • Expecting your mood to improve slowly, not instantly

  • Do not isolate yourself

  • Breaking up bigger tasks into small ones

  • Setting priorities

  • Postponing important decision like changing jobs, divorce or marriage 

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