Depression is a common and serious mental health problem that negatively affects how one feels, thinks, and acts; fortunately, it is curable. Depression causes persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities you once took pleasure in. It can affect your emotional and physical health and decrease your ability to function normally at work and home.
A person is diagnosed as suffering from major depressive disorder only if he has these symptoms for at least two weeks. Symptoms of depression can fluctuate from mild to severe and may include:
• Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
• Changes in appetite-weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
• Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
• Loss of energy or increased fatigue
• Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g.,inability to sit still, pacing, hand-wringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
• Feeling worthless or guilty
• Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
• Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression affects an estimated one in fifteen adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can occur at any time, but on average, it first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. There is a high degree of her it ability (around 40%) when first-degree relatives have depression.
The death of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, separation, or breakup is challenging experiences for a person to go through. It is usual for feelings of sadness or grief to build up in response to any loss. Those experiencing loss might label themselves as being “depressed.” Feeling sad is not the same as having depression. Grieving is natural and differs from one to another, but it shares some standard features with depression. Though both grief and depression involve intense sadness and withdrawal from the usual activities, they also differ in many ways:
• In grief, painful feelings come in waves, often mingled with positive memories of the deceased. In major depression, mood and interest (pleasure) are decreased persistently.
• In grief, self-esteem is usually maintained. In major depression, feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are common.
• In grief, thoughts of death may surface when thinking of or fantasizing about “joining” the deceased. In major depression, thoughts are focused on ending one’s life due to feeling worthless or undeserving of living or being unable to cope with the pain of depression.
For some people, grief and depression can coexist, and in such individuals, grief lasts longer, and they also find it difficult to cope with grief. Once we learn the difference between grief and depression, we can assist people in getting the help, support, or treatment they need.
People suffering from depression don’t seek help for their mental issues as they have concerns about being treated differently or fear that they might lose their jobs and livelihood. That’s because stigma, prejudice, and discrimination against people with mental illness are still significant problems in our society. People with mental illness are side-lined and singled out in many ways, but understanding what that looks like and how to address and eradicate it can help. Stigma directly affects individuals with mental illness and the loved ones who support them.
NOT treating depression may lead to dreadful consequences.
Untreated depression increases the chance of risky behaviors such as drug or alcohol addiction. It can also severely affect one’s sleep patterns, leave one feeling hopeless and irritable, and even result in weight gain or loss. Treatment can include medication, counseling, psychotherapy, alternative therapies, or a combination to help minimize these symptoms. Counseling and psychotherapy can help patients to address negative thoughts and feelings. Group therapy is also essential; knowing that you are not alone and that there are others too suffering from depression helps heal. Lastly, family and community support can make a lot of difference in this journey with depression.
Early detection is crucial for rapid intervention, which can reduce the disorder’s amplification and rise.