Depression is a mood disorder with persistent feelings of sadness, anger or loss of interest. It interferes with a person’s everyday activities. Depression is different from the mood fluctuations that people experience regularly as a part of life. It may lead to a lot of emotional and physical problems.
The cause of depression if not known exactly. Depression can occur due to many factors and triggers. Possible factors involved are:
- Stressful or emotional life events
- Family history
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Life threatening conditions or illness
- Biological difference
- Changes in function of neurotransmitters
- Hormonal and physical changes
Depression occurs only once during lifetime, but some people may have multiple episodes. The symptoms of depression vary widely between people and it may persist for weeks, months or years.
- Feeling hopeless, sadness, emptiness, worthless, tearful, guilt-ridden, anxious or worried
- Slowed thinking or trouble in thinking, concentrating and difficulty in decision making, continuous sadness, intermittent angry outbursts
- Having low self esteem, suicidal thoughts or harming yourself
- Loss of motivation and interest in things, especially ones you were interested before
- Unexplained physical problems such as lack of energy, aches, pains, reduced appetite, sleep disturbances, constipation, low sex drive, changes to menstrual cycle
- Social impacts such as avoiding contact with friends, neglecting interests and having difficulties in home, work or family life.
- Suicidal thoughts, feeling life is not worth living
There are no actual physical tests for depression. Diagnostic tests such as blood test or urine test might be done to rule out occurrence of other conditions such as thyroid problems. Depression can be diagnosed by:
- Psychiatric evaluation
- DSM-5 (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – fifth edition) criteria for depression may be used by a psychologist or your mental health professional
There are no sure ways to prevent depression. Possible ways include:
- Take steps to control stress
- Find ways to improve self esteem
- Regular exercise, healthy diet, get enough sleep
- Reach out to family and friends in times of crisis
- Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem
Treatment depends on the severity of depression. It can be mild, moderate or severe. Watchful waiting may be recommended for mild depression which means wait and see. The condition may get better by itself. There are also exercises for depression.
Other methods used for treating depression includes:
- CBT- cognitive behaviour therapy, which is a psychosocial treatment method for mental health problems.
- Medications such as antidepressants are widely used in the treatment of depression.
- Brain stimulation is used to treat severe depression, usually when other treatment methods fail. There are different types of brain stimulation methods used to treat depression.
- Psychotherapy is also part of treatment for depression. It is the use of psychological methods to treat mental and emotional difficulties.
- Counselling is also a part of treatment for depression
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