Sorrow is a common part of human experience. Whether your loved one is facing a life-threatening condition or you are going through a terrible divorce, feelings of sadness and depression are a part of human repertoire of emotion.
For most people, feelings of sadness are quite short-lived. However, for others, these feelings can not only persist, but can become quite intense.
Depression or major depressive disorder is a mental health condition that is marked by an extended period of sadness and despair.
The condition affects how a person thinks, feels and acts, that is, all aspects of daily life. Depression is not the same as grief. Sometimes, the condition can be accompanied by thoughts of suicide.
Prevalence of the Disorder
The National Institute of Mental Health estimated that around 16 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. At the time, this made up about 6.9 percent of the population.
According to World Health Organization, depression affects more than 300 million people of all ages around the world. That’s around 5 percent of the world’s population.
Generally, depression accompanies a ‘deep feeling of sadness or marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities’. However, people suffering from depression can face a wide variety of other symptoms. Here are some of them:
- Irritability or restlessness
- Lower sex drive
- Difficulty in focusing
- Excessive sleeping
- Fatigue and persistent feelings of lethargy
- Unexplainable urge to cry
- Need to eat too much or too little
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Lower self-esteem
- Withdrawing from social situations and avoiding daily life activities
Scientists have disputes regarding the causes of depression. However, it is generally believed that imbalance in the brain’s chemistry can be responsible for the condition. Again, there is some debate as to what these imbalances are and what kind of signaling chemicals are involved.
Some of the other factors that can be associated with depression include certain life circumstances such as childhood trauma, loss of job, death of a loved one, etc.
The more agreed upon theory is that depression is caused by a combination of factors including genetic, biological, environmental and psychological.
To diagnose depression, questions about family health history, mood, behavior patterns, etc. can be asked.
To diagnose a person as having depression, five or more of the symptoms (mentioned above) must be present for a period of at least, 2 weeks.
Moreover, the psychiatrists have to rule out the possibility that the condition is being caused by another problem, such as thyroid issue, or if a drug problem is causing these symptoms.
According to Live Science, half of Americans suffering from depression do not get the help they require.
If the condition is left untreated, it can lead to a variety of social, emotional and health issues. Some of them include problems at work, alcohol or drug abuse, anxiety, relationship conflicts, etc.
Treatment of depression can include medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.
Antidepressants help change a person’s mood by impacting naturally occurring brain chemicals. These antidepressants include a class of drugs known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Some of these drugs include Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, etc.
Also known as counseling or talk therapy, psychotherapy has been known to help patients suffering from depression.
Some of the types of psychotherapy include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy, mindfulness techniques, etc.
Medication and psychotherapy, used in combination, can prove to be quite effective.
Some Ways You Can Cope With Depression
Now that we have covered crucial aspects of depression, let’s take a look at some tips to help you deal with depression in a more efficient manner:
Learn More about Depression
It is very important that you understand your condition well. Depression affects different people in different ways.
Being knowledgeable about the disorder will help you deal with it in a more effective way. From understanding symptoms to creating a treatment plan, it helps to have a clear idea about what having the disorder means.
Find Ways of Self-Expression
Whether it is a trusted friend or a journal, make sure you have an outlet for expression. With all your thoughts, feelings and emotions out in the open, you will feel a lot better.
Make sure you are absolutely honest in explaining yourself. This exercise can release pent-up emotions and give you some perspective on future course of action.
Find Ways to Enhance Your Self-Esteem
One of the major symptoms of depression includes having feelings of worthlessness. Not feeling good about yourself is the cardinal sin when it comes to depression.
It might be difficult to stay in a positive state of mind while passing through this rough patch. However, boosting your self-image is important if you are to get rid of depression. Exercising, having a healthy diet and spending quality time with friends can prove to be quite helpful.
Develop a Daily Schedule and Stick to It
Having your activities planned out can help when suffering from depression. It ensures that you stay focused and maintain a sense of equilibrium. When the chips are down, having a sense of routine can really help.
Keep Yourself Involved in Social Activities
Whether it is community service or going out with friends to a party, make sure that you are socially active.
This is because social withdrawal can intensify symptoms and will mean that you keep spiraling downward into the throes of depression.
Making social connections can really help. Go out with a friend to watch a comedy movie or have a small gathering at your house.
Make sure that your depressive symptoms do not keep you away from sleep. However, do not sleep too much.
Having 7 to 8 hours of sleep is essential for a human being. Set up a fixed time for sleeping and waking up. This will keep the energy levels in good shape.
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