Depression affects about 280 million people worldwide. The disease worsens the quality of life, and in severe cases it can lead to a sad outcome. What do the symptoms look like and what are the treatments?
- What Is Depression?
- How to Recognize Depression?
- What Causes Depression?
- How Is Depression Treated?
- What to Do if You Think You Are Depressed?
- How to Help a Loved One With Depression
- What Are Some Myths About Depression?
- Depression Is Just a Bad Mood
- A Depressed Person Is Easy to Recognize
- Depression Comes From Idleness
- Alcohol Helps With Depression
What Is Depression?
Depression is a mental disorder, listed in the International Classification of Diseases. It’s diagnosed by a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.
Depression can occur in people of all genders, ages (the disease occurs even in children) and statuses. In such a condition, for at least two weeks, a person notes a general loss of strength, a feeling of sadness, irritability, feelings of emptiness, and a loss of interest in any occupation.
When depressed, the body reduces levels of neurotransmitters, most commonly serotonin, which is called the happiness hormone. There are several versions of why the balance of neurotransmitters is disturbed, but scientists do not yet have a definitive answer.
How to Recognize Depression?
The presence of the following signs may indicate the need to see a specialist:
- A constant feeling of emptiness, uselessness and helplessness.
- Excessive Tearfulness.
- Loss of interest in work, hobbies, family, friends and everything that used to bring pleasure.
- Changes in appetite or weight in one direction or another.
- Constant feeling of fatigue for no apparent reason.
- Problems with concentration and difficulty making decisions.
- Insomnia or increased sleepiness.
- Obsessive thoughts of suicide or death.
Of course, it’s normal to experience any of these conditions sometimes. You can feel sad, even if you have lost some pennies at Bet22 or your relative hasn’t answered you for a while. The difference is that with depression, these symptoms are prolonged and significantly impair a person’s quality of life. You should see a doctor if you have answered some questions positively and any sign is present in your life for longer than a few weeks.
In general, the symptoms of depression are not limited to those listed above, and the manifestation of the disease varies from person to person. Sometimes depression can be masked by atypical symptoms: for example, some have increased irritability.
Depression comes in varying degrees of severity and form:
- A persistent depressive disorder that lasts for at least two years.
- During this time, symptoms may be relieved.
- Postpartum depression.
- Psychotic depression in which, besides typical depressive symptoms, hallucinations or delusions are observed.
- Seasonal depression, which most often occurs during the cold season.
There is no need to self-diagnose and self-treat depression. If you think you are experiencing depression, see a psychiatrist.
What Causes Depression?
It’s unknown exactly. Depression can occur spontaneously, for no apparent reason. It has been found that if a depressive episode occurred once, there is a risk that it will recur.
Many studies show that depression is caused by genetic predisposition. 269 genes have been linked to the risk of depression, but other factors also influence the development of the disorder. Those who have experienced life upheavals (e.g., unemployment, loss of a loved one, psychological trauma) are at particular risk.
There is also a relationship between depression and physical health: cardiovascular disease can lead to depression, and depression can lead to cardiovascular disease.
How Is Depression Treated?
Even the most severe cases of depression are treatable. Doctors usually prescribe medication, psychotherapy, or both, depending on the severity of the illness.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and supportive counseling are effective in treating depression.
Antidepressants help restore balance to neurotransmitters. They are used to treat not only depression but also other disorders: obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Antidepressants have a cumulative effect and do not begin to work immediately, but after several weeks. Even if your condition has normalized, you should not stop taking the pills as recommended by your doctor. Depression in such cases may return, and abrupt cessation of intake may cause withdrawal syndrome. Antidepressants should be abandoned after consultation with a psychiatrist after gradually reducing the dosage of the drug.
What to Do if You Think You Are Depressed?
If you find it difficult to assess your mental state, use the Beck Depression Scale. The questionnaire helps you determine the level of depression with high accuracy. If the results suggest a disorder, it’s best to seek help from a psychiatrist as soon as possible.
How to Help a Loved One With Depression
Sometimes it is difficult to know how to behave properly with a friend, relative or loved one who is depressed. Try to be a good listener: this is much more important than giving advice. Show that you are there for them and tell them that you are willing to listen without judgement or devaluation. Be attentive and patient: the person with depression may isolate and walk away from the conversation.
You can start a conversation with someone you want to help with simple phrases: “I’ve been worried about you lately” or “I’ve noticed a change in you lately. How are you feeling?”.
You can continue the conversation with the following questions:
- How long have you been feeling depressed?
- Has something happened that has affected your condition?
- How can I support you right now?
- Have you thought about seeking professional help?
Phrases like “Someone else is worse off,” “Think positive,” and “It’s all from idleness” will only make a person’s condition worse and make them feel guilty.
What Are Some Myths About Depression?
Depression Is Just a Bad Mood
Many people are used to saying “I’m depressed,” when what they really mean is a bad mood or the usual short-term depression. So the stereotype has taken hold that depression is not an illness, but a temporary loss of energy. But clinical depression and moping are not the same thing. Although depression may wax and wane periodically, it won’t go away without treatment.
A Depressed Person Is Easy to Recognize
A person who is depressed does not always look sad. From the outside, he may appear happy, hiding his condition behind a smile, so it’s hard for others to guess that the person is experiencing problems.
Depression Comes From Idleness
A person with depression may be mistaken by others for a slacker, so they often suggest “getting off the couch and doing something.” But with depression, motivation and interest in favorite activities disappear, and it’s difficult to get out of bed. When a person is sick, he sees no point in doing what he did before.
Alcohol Helps With Depression
Some people mistakenly believe that alcohol can alleviate depression and lift your mood, so they drown out the symptoms with alcohol. In fact, the opposite is true: alcohol is a depressant, after which the condition only worsens.