A 24 year old woman in America started losing interest in all activities of daily life.. A trip, family time and even labrador, nothing could make her happy or excited anymore. Nothing could make her feel something anymore. She waited and waited for something to come along to spark joy in her life but all in vain.
After one and a half years, she was clinically diagnosed with depression.
This story sounds familiar, but the end is generally anti-climatic. Help is seldom sought and treatment is rarely followed through.
A term used commonly, but how many of us do actually know its meaning?
According to APA, Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
Depression is not just a bout of blues, it is not just feeling upset or sad; Depression is serious. It is when you see yourself in the mirror but don’t recognize the person staring back at you. It is when you are there, but not really present. At its worst, it could present itself as the belief that life is not worth living and you have nothing to look forward to, a conviction that death must be better than life, which is just a series of unfortunate and tragic events.
Depression is not preventable, it can happen to the best of us. It is always lurking in the shadows waiting for its chance to sneak up on us, but terrified of the light that shines within.
- Depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 264 million people affected.
- The median age of depression onset is 32.5 years old.
- The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode is highest among individuals between 18 and 25.
- 11.3% of adults who report two or more races have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.
- 8.7% of women have depression.
- 5.3% of men have depression.
- In India, the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 reveals that nearly 15% Indian adults need active intervention for one or more mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffers from depression.
- In India, only around 1 out of 10 people who screen positive for depression seek treatment.
This mirrors the situation around the world, where only a small fraction of people who meet criteria for a mental illness seek formal help.
There are 9 major categories in which depression can be categorized in-
- Major Depression/ Major depressive Disorder
This is fairly common, unipolar, classic depression. People suffering with this disorder experience symptoms everyday. Some people struggle with this for months or even years, whereas for others, it may last only for a single episode.
- Persistent Depression
This is less severe and may last upto two years or more. It’s also called Dysthymia or Chronic Depression.
Some people also have episodes of major depression before or while they have persistent depressive disorder. This is called double depression.
- Manic Depression/ Bipolar Disorder
- Depressive Psychosis
- Perinatal Depression
- Premenstrual Dysphoric
- Seasonal Depression
- Atypical Depression
SADNESS AND DEPRESSION- KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
- Normal human emotion
- Passes with time
- Relief from venting, crying
- Low mood for less than 2 weeks
- Mental disorder
- Treated clinically
- Experience symptoms for more than 2 weeks
RISK FACTORS AND CAUSES
Being aware about what puts us at-risk can help us be more prepared for the time when depression creeps in on us.
Some risk factors include-
- Genetics/ Family History
- Death or severe loss
- Emotionally traumatizing conflicts
- Physical or/and Emotional Abuse
- Substance Abuse
- Gender (Women are more likely to experience depression)
- Other illnesses like anxiety or ADHD
- Childhood Traumas
- Low Self Esteem and excessive dependency on others
Most common symptoms have been mentioned below. If you experience a combination of more than 5 of these, then visit a doctor and get tested.
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, loneliness and hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, even on petty matters
- Loss of interest in activities one used to find exciting
- Anxiety and agitation
- Disturbance in Sleep
- Significant fluctuations in weight
- Reduced appetite
- Frequent thoughts of death, suicide
- Feeling worthless and guilty
- Unexplained Physical Pain
- The first step to any treatment is acknowledging the presence of a disease.
Therefore, it is essential to visit a doctor to get clinically tested and follow the procedures and treatments prescribed by the doctor.
- THERAPY is instrumental in treating depression. The various types of therapy used include Psychotherapy (depends upon the technique the therapist is trained in), Light Therapy ( Exposure to white light improves mood and can alleviate depression), Alternative Therapies like Meditation, Acupuncture, etc.
- NATURAL TREATMENTS
- Exercising regularly helps people maintain a healthy dose of serotonin
- Reducing the consumption of Alcohol and other drugs
- Inhaling the scent of wild ginger
- Chamomile and Rose Oil have a calming effect on being inhaled
- Increasing the intake of Vitamin B and Vitamin D
However, it must be noted that a person should not self administer a treatment and should always consult a doctor and follow the guidelines provided by the professionals.
Must know that you are not alone in your fight, in your struggle and in your distress. There are a lot of people like you, fighting tooth and nail against the darkness that is ready to engulf them whole; and there are a lot of people who have come out on the other side too. They are alive and happy and glowing. Be one of them.
Depression is not something to be ashamed of, so reach out.
- JEEVAN AASTHA HELPLINE- 1800 233 3330
- AASRA : 09820466726 (Hindi and English)
- One Life Foundation : 7893078930
- SUMAITRI : 011-23389090 ( NEWDELHI )
- KIRAN MENTAL HEALTH ( GOVT ) – 18005990019
- For immediate assistance, in case you are afraid you might harm yourself, Contact the police immediately.
Also, in case you know someone who is suffering from depression or going through a hard time in their lives, let them know you are there for them. Be extra kind, go the extra mile.
To end the inexhaustible and essential discussion on depression, I would like to end with a quote by Stephen Fry –
“Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”