- by Specialist Hospital
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- Apr 07 2017
Depression Lets Talk on world health Day 2017
Depression: Let’s talk.
The theme of our 2017 World Health Day campaign is depression. Depression is a common illness worldwide affecting people of all ages and in all walks of life. It is the leading cause of disability in the worldwide population. About 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide. Recently conducted health surveys show that at least 15% of the population of India suffer from depression in their life time and 5 % in a given year. More women are affected by depression than men. The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study projections show that depression will be the single leading cause of Disability Adjusted Life Years by 2020 in the developing world. Depression has become the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. Depression at its worst can lead to suicide. If it’s untreated it can become long standing and recurrent. Though effective treatments are available only few people receive treatment.
Let’s understand the hurdles for seeking treatment for depression. They are lack of awareness, lack of mental health resources, stigma, lack of family and social support or lack of trained professionals to identify the illness. So it’s better that we become aware and raise awareness among our fellow individuals to recognise and get treated at the earliest.
How can we identify depression? Symptoms of depression are low mood/sadness, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy leading to diminished activity for at least two weeks. Many people with depression also suffer from anxiety symptoms, disturbed sleep and appetite and may have feelings of guilt or low self-worth, poor concentration, death wishes, irritability, reduced interactions with family and friends and even medically unexplained symptoms like headaches, burning sensation of the feet, body aches and chest discomfort. Depending on the number and severity of the symptoms present it is diagnosed as mild, moderate and severe. During mild and moderate depressive individuals manage to do their daily household and work related activities. But this is not so in case of severe depressive episode where the individuals have difficulty doing daily chores, social and occupational activities.
Depression can have varied presentations depending on the age, sex and different stages of life cycle. Depression in teens presents more with Irritability, anger, and agitation are often the most noticeable symptoms in depressed teens—not sadness. They may also complain of headaches, stomach aches, or other physical pains .Depression in men tend to complain about fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, and loss of interest in work and hobbies. They’re also more likely to experience symptoms such as anger, aggression, reckless behaviour, and substance abuse. Depression in women more likely have pronounced feelings of guilt, excessive sleeping, overeating, and weight gain. Depression in women is also impacted by hormonal factors during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Up to 1 in 7 women experience depression following childbirth, a condition known as postpartum depression. Older adults tend to complain more about the physical rather than the emotional signs and symptoms of depression: things like fatigue, unexplained aches and pains, and memory problems. They may also neglect their personal appearance and stop taking critical medications for their health.
Types of depression are unipolar depression, bipolar depression when the depressive episodes with manic episodes in between and recurrent depression when there are more than 2 depressive episodes. All types of depression can become long lasting and can lead to self-harm behaviour if untreated. In Bipolar affective disorder the type of depression typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. Manic episodes involve elevated or irritable mood, over-activity, pressure of speech, inflated self-esteem and a decreased need for sleep.
Depression can be inherited as the biological relatives of an individual suffering from depression have higher risk of developing depression than the general population. At the same time inheritance is not the rule. It can also be caused by stresses, loss of loved ones, major life events, failures, lack of family/social support and substance misuse like alcohol consumption regularly. Thus it has multifactorial aetiology and results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors. People who have gone through adverse life events (unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma) are more likely to develop depression. Depression can, in turn, lead to more stress and dysfunction and worsen the affected person’s life situation and depression.
Depression and suicide Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only answer to end all the suffering. If you have a loved one with depression, take any suicidal talk or behaviour seriously and watch for the warning signs:
Talking about killing or harming one’s self
Bleak views of the future
Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends) Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy
Treatment Seeking professional help is important when individuals come to know that it’s not just sadness and it’s affecting all spheres of life or when it lasts longer.
There are effective treatments for depression. Mental health professionals offer psychological treatments (such as behavioural activation, cognitive behavioural therapy [CBT], and interpersonal psychotherapy [IPT]) or antidepressant medication (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs] and tricyclic antidepressants [TCAs]). Different psychological treatment formats for consideration include individual and/or group face-to-face psychological treatments delivered by professionals and supervised lay therapists.
Psychosocial treatments are also effective for mild depression. Antidepressants can be an effective form of treatment for moderate-severe depression but are not the first line of treatment for cases of mild depression. They should not be used for treating depression in children and are not the first line of treatment in adolescents, among whom they should be used with caution.
What else can benefit the individuals suffering from depression?
Seeking company from family and friends: Isolation adds on to depression, so reaching out to friends and loved ones, even if you feel like being left alone. The simple act of talking to someone about how you feel can be an enormous help. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix you. He or she just needs to be a good listener—someone who’ll listen attentively without being distracted or judging you.
Physical exercise: When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like climbing a mountain, let alone exercising. But regular exercise can be as effective. Take a short walk or put some music on and dance around. Start with simple activities and build gradually up from there.
Healthy diet: Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, Trans fats, sugar, and refined carbs. And increase mood-enhancing nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids.
Hobbies and nature friendly activities: Spend some time in nature, care for a pet, volunteer, and pick up a hobby you used to enjoy (or take up a new one). You won’t feel like it at first, but as you participate in the world again, you will start to feel better.
Dr.Chandrashekar.M. MBBS. DPM DNB. KMC 39712
Head- Department of Psychiatry
Talking about depression is the road to recovery
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