Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Feb 13, 2017
Depression is a mental disorder that affects millions of people every year, and in severe cases, the patients end their own lives. Sadly, depression, like most mental disorders, is surrounded by stigma, and therefore patients are apprehensive about seeking treatment.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 264 million people of all ages around the world suffer from depression. There are 8,00,000 suicide-related deaths every year, and it is the second most cause of deaths in 15-29-year-olds.
Therefore it is essential for anyone suffering from even the mildest form of depression to seek treatment. It would be helpful if the friends and family of the depressed patient support and encourage him or her to seek treatment.
A little about depression
So what exactly is depression? When exactly do I go to seek help? Is it necessary? Will it be helpful? These are questions that run in most people's minds.
Depression is the continuous feeling of immense sadness that lasts for more than two weeks. A depressed patient does not find pleasure in performing any activities, and lacks the energy to do it; something he could normally do before.
A clinically depressed patient has a hard time maintaining a healthy eating or sleeping pattern. EIther he sleeps a lot more than usual or suffers from sleeplessness. The same goes for eating too. The patient is filled with a sense of hopelessness and finds himself unable to conjure any positive thoughts.
Why do people get depressed?
Depression doesn’t have an exact cause. But few of the factors that could lead to depression include:
Abuse: If the patient has gone through abuse in the past, he or she is more likely to acquire depression. This includes physical, sexual or emotional abuse the patient had to deal with in the past or present.
Medication: Certain medications could have depression as a side effect. Drugs like isotretinoin (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids, are some of the few said medications.
Personal conflict: When a person has conflicts with family or friends and is already biologically vulnerable to developing depression, he is more likely to be affected.
Loss of a loved one: When a person is undergoing grief due to a loss of a loved one, it could manifest into depression.
Genetics: If the person’s family has a history of depression, then there is a high risk of getting depressed. It isn’t a trait that is linked to a single gene but has many different genes affecting the chances.
Major Events: If a person is going through major changes in life, be it good or bad, like getting married or divorced, starting a new job, moving to a new place, retiring, etc. then the chances of getting depressed are more likely.
Other personal problems: Sometimes, a person going through various illnesses might be socially isolated, or due to some personal reason has been cast out by loved ones can contribute to the risk.
Besides that, some illnesses have depression as a symptom too.
People who deal with substance abuse are usually already clinically depressed. Even if drugs or alcohol provide temporary relief, they ultimately will make the depression worse. Current events: A person who is exposed to different bad news like murder, rape, troubles economy, oppression, etc., internalized such information and are then affected by it. The thoughts that follow this process contribute to getting depressed.
What is depression supposed to feel like?
Some of the obvious symptoms of depression include:
A visible lack of interest or pleasure in activities like sports, hobbies, etc. that the patient previously enjoyed.
There is a significant weight loss or gain due to the increase or decrease in appetite.
Insomnia or hypersomnia, i.e. the patient finds it hard to fall asleep or is sleeping more often than usual.
The patient is restless, unable to sit still, or is constantly pacing around and shows similar such symptoms; this is called psychomotor agitation. Or the complete opposite of it happens, i.e. the patient's movements are slow, is quieter than usual, or doesn't indulge in social activities.
The patient is in a constant state of fatigue. Daily activities like dressing up, going to the bathroom or similar such things are done at slower and in an uninterested manner.
The patient is unable to concentrate or think, and is often indecisive, easily distracted and is sometimes unable to remember things.
The patient is plagued with guilt or worthlessness for no appropriate reason.
The patient is usually considering the idea of death and may think about committing suicide. He or she either finds a new fear of death or is constantly planning or attempting to commit suicide.
What is happening in the body while depressed?
When a person is depressed, there is a decline in the production of serotonin, a hormone that is responsible for pleasure and happiness.
The hormone is responsible for helping a person deal with anxiety, manage his or her mood, and also fight depression. It also plays a part in making the person fall asleep, have an appetite, get aggressive, and even affects sex drive. Serotonin is essential for mood regulation, which is why most antidepressants aim to increase the level of serotonin.
How to increase the natural level of serotonin in the body?
There are many ways how a person can naturally improve serotonin levels in the body without making use of prescription drugs. The methods may vary from person to person, but worth trying. Some of them are:
Performing a random act of kindness: Certain research shows that willingly showing an act of service to others helps a person feel better about themselves, as well as improves the mood of the person who received the help.
Exercise: The body has a natural tendency to produce more serotonin and other kinds of neuropeptides that give you a feeling of satisfaction and happiness when you exercise.
Consumption of healthy fat: Our brain is composed of 60% of fat, thus increasing the intake of Omega-3 fats help boost a person's mood, and there is a balanced release of hormones.
Finding Purpose: Sometimes, depression is caused due to a feeling of existential crisis. When a person starts questioning his or her reason for existence, it is generally followed by depression. So figuring out your purpose or the activity that you feel you were meant to do might help you remain happy.
Keep in mind that the above activities may or may not improve serotonin levels in the body. But when you are feeling depressed, the wisest thing to do would be to seek psychological help from professional psychiatrists or psychologists.
What can I try to deal with depression?
Cognitive Therapy: This is a kind of therapy that is based on the idea that suggests that specific ways of thinking may trigger some health problems. Now, cognitive therapy is a way of employing a thought process that, instead of provoking problems, will counter depression. This kind of therapy is done with a professional, who helps you identify the harmful ideas and thoughts and guide you to think positively.
Connect With Your Friends: Most of the time, when a person is depressed, he or she tends to isolate themselves. One should try to fight the urge to pull back and instead, should start talking to more people and try to enjoy their company.
Get enough sleep: A person's sleep cycle has a significant effect on both mental and physical health. It is essential to regulate your sleep and ensure that you are getting the right amount of sleep.
Maintaining a journal: A journal is like a visual form of your thoughts. This helps you take a literal look at your thoughts, which would help you realise your problems, and probably might help you find a solution.
Jotting down the positive things of your day, might help boost your mood, and be more appreciative of stuff around.
Do not give up: No matter what happens, it is essential to remind yourself that you are not alone and that there is nothing the world throws at you that you can't handle.
Depression is like fighting with your mind, a battle. Remind yourself that the battle may be hard, but you must fight to win it.
The above information may help you fight depression, but even if you feel you are better on your own, a little professional assistance won't hurt. So if you're going through the mildest symptom of depression, seek professional help as soon as possible.
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