Sadness, a feeling of depression, loss of interest or pleasure from everyday activities are symptoms familiar to each of us.
But if they persist for a long time, having a significant negative impact on human life, then you should think about depression.
Depression is a mental disorder characterized by persistent, depressed mood, impaired thinking, and decreased motor activity.
To diagnose depression, its symptoms must appear for at least two weeks.
Depression is the most common mental disorder. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 350 million people are affected by depression worldwide.
Depression can change your thoughts, feelings and behavior in everyday life, having a negative impact on the ability to work, study, eat, sleep and enjoy life.
The feeling of helplessness, hopelessness and futility becomes intense and comprehensive, in rare cases alternating with periods of slight relief.
Some people suffering from depression describe it as “living in a black hole” or a sense of impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty and lethargic.
But regardless of the actual manifestations, without appropriate treatment, depression can manifest itself as a serious disease.
However, it is important to remember that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of depression and not an objective reality in the current situation. There are many ways to cheer up, overcome depression and bring back the joy of life.
Types of Depression
1. Major depressive disorder (major or clinical depression)
A major depression is characterized by constant feelings of sadness, hopelessness and futility that do not go away on their own.
Many patients experience only one depressive episode in their life, however, some people may experience recurring depressive states over a very long period.
Dysthymia can be described as a condition in which a person lives as if on autopilot. This is a constant bad mood for a long period of time: two years or more.
The intensity of this type of depression is lower than with major depressive disorder.
3. Seasonal affective disorder
It is caused by a lack of natural sunlight in people who are sensitive to insufficient lighting in the winter, and, as a rule, is accompanied by social rejection, weight gain and sleep duration.
4. Atypical depression
With atypical depression, there may be a feeling of heaviness in the limbs, irritability, problems in relationships, as well as a tendency to overeat and excessive sleep.
5. Bipolar disorder
It is also called manic-depressive psychosis, because it is characterized by the alternation of depressive episodes with manic (high mood) and normal state.
6. Psychotic depression
Sometimes depressive manifestations can become so intense that they are accompanied by hallucinations or disturbing false beliefs (delirium).
At the same time, a person can suffer from motor disorders, falling into a psychomotor stupor.
7. Situational depression
It is associated with the onset of an event that has a strong negative impact on human life. This event can be anything from losing a job to the death of a loved one.
8. Postpartum Depression
It can occur after childbirth, as a result of which a woman is removed from the newborn or fears that she can harm him.
The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression can interfere with young mothers’ daily childcare responsibilities.
Symptoms and Signs of Depression
- The constant presence of feelings of sadness, hopelessness, pessimism, worthlessness, helplessness, emptiness, guilt or self-hatred. A bleak prospect – nothing will improve, and it seems that nothing can be done to rectify the current situation. You criticize yourself sharply for errors that arise.
- Anger, irritability, frustration or anxiety. Your tolerance is low, and everyone around you is getting on your nerves.
- Impaired ability to think, concentrate, remember, or make decisions.
- Decrease in interest or pleasure from activities that used to bring joyful emotions, as well as the loss of sexual desire. You are no longer interested in past entertainment, social events, talking with other people, and relationships with the opposite sex. You have lost the ability to feel joy and pleasure.
- Inadvertent weight loss and loss of appetite, or vice versa weight gain, characterized by a change of more than 5% of body weight per month.
- Insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or hypersomnia (excessive sleep).
- Psychomotor agitation, such as pacing back and forth as a result of anxiety.
- Inhibited psychomotor reactions, such as slow-motion and speech.
- Fatigue, loss of energy, lethargy, and physical exhaustion. Your whole body may seem too heavy or awkward, and even small tasks will bore you or take too much time.
- Physical symptoms such as headache, abdominal or back pain, cramps, digestive problems for no apparent reason that cannot be resolved as a result of the prescribed treatment.
- Reckless behavior. Substance abuse, gambling, reckless driving or engaging in dangerous sports.
- Repeated thoughts of death or suicide, as well as other negative thoughts, for example: “I am a loser”, “It is my fault”, “There is nothing good in my life”, “I am nothing”, “Nothing good is waiting for me”, “This will never change ”,“ There is no reason to live on ”,“ People would be better off without me. ”
It should be noted that some people experience only a few of the above symptoms, while others may be characterized by the presence of many symptoms.
In addition to the characteristics of the body of each person, various stages of the disease can also affect the symptoms.
Causes of depression
Studies show that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
Thus, your lifestyle, relationships with other people, and your willingness to overcome life’s obstacles are no less decisive than your genetic predisposition.
Depression can occur in people of any age category, but most often it manifests itself in adulthood.
In children and adolescents, depression manifests itself mainly in the form of irritability, rather than in the form of depression. Many chronic mood disorders and anxiety in adults begin with a high level of anxiety in childhood.
Depression, especially in older people and middle-aged people, can be combined with other diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease or cardiovascular diseases.
There are cases when drugs taken as part of the treatment of these diseases could cause side effects that contribute to depression.
Understanding the cause of depression can be very helpful in overcoming it.
For example, if depression is associated with problems at work, the best way to resolve the situation may be to find a new job in another place, and not just take antidepressants.
If you change your place of residence and feel lonely and sad, then finding new friends can more effectively raise your mood than visiting a medical institution.
In such cases, depression is eliminated by changing the situation.
- Loneliness and isolation.
- Lack of social support.
- Recent stressful life events: loss of a loved one, divorce, problems at home or at work, financial difficulties or unemployment.
- Genetic predisposition, i.e. kinship depression
- Childhood trauma or past violence.
- Alcoholism or drug addiction.
- Health problems, past head trauma, chronic diseases such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease.
- Side effects of taking medications.
- Low self-esteem, perfectionism, self-criticism, pessimism.
- Hormonal factors due to pregnancy or childbirth, as well as due to problems with the thyroid gland and for other reasons.
Stages of depression
1. The first stage
At this stage of depression, a person usually thinks that he is just in a bad mood, tired, he did not get enough sleep, it turned out to be a bad day, or the weather is to blame.
There is a loss of appetite, lack of concentration and alienation from the outside world.
2. The second stage
The production of the hormone “happiness” —serotonin — decreases, insomnia occurs, weight loss, a sense of self-worthlessness, anger and irritability are present, and the ability to concentrate is almost completely lost.
At this stage, there is still the opportunity to overcome depression on its own by taking the necessary action.
3. The third stage
This is the most dangerous stage of depression because at this stage a person loses the meaning of life, he is seized with unrestrained anger or complete indifference to everything, and thoughts of suicide can also attend.
This stage requires medical attention and treatment, including the use of antidepressants.
How to get out of depression
1. Support for loved ones
Loneliness and isolation feed fuel depression, so be sure to seek support from friends and family, even if you don’t want to be a burden on other people. A simple heart-to-heart talk can be of great help.
At the same time, the person with whom you are talking should act as an attentive listener who will not be distracted, divert the conversation in an unnecessary way or condemn you.
2. Physical activity
In a state of depression, even trying to get out of bed can seem like a frightening undertaking, not to mention going to the gym.
However, in dealing with the symptoms of depression, regular exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants, because they increase your body’s production of endorphins, which improve your mood.
Take a short walk or turn on the music and dance to it for a while. Start with simple actions, progressively increasing physical activity, making sport a part of your life.
3. Go out into the world
Spend some time in nature, get a pet, come up with a new hobby, become a volunteer of a project, visit new interesting places and get new positive impressions.
4. Don’t drink alcohol
Alcohol can temporarily improve your well-being, but ultimately drinking it will only aggravate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
5. Take care of yourself
Allow enough sleep, eat healthy foods, take B and D vitamins, avoid toxic people, and don’t take part in activities that can worsen your mood.
6. Learn to prioritize and say no
Feeling depressed can worsen the symptoms of depression, so setting boundaries in your professional and personal life will help you feel better.
Meditation is an affordable and effective way to calm the mind, relax the body, fight insomnia, reduce anxiety and anxiety, and also a source of positive emotions.
8. Start keeping a diary
It is great to have close friends and loving relatives who you completely trust, but not everyone is able to do this.
For this reason, keeping a diary can be a good alternative, since the entries made in it can help you more clearly articulate your thoughts and also better understand yourself.
9. Realistic goals
Broken expectations can’t only aggravate the situation, but also cause depression.
Therefore, set realistic goals, stop demanding too much from yourself, loosen control and let go of the situation.
Depression is considered a well-treatable mental disorder. The condition of about 90 percent of patients suffering from depression improves as a result of treatment. Almost all patients receive relief from their symptoms.
Before prescribing treatment, the healthcare provider must conduct a thorough diagnostic assessment, including an interview and a medical examination.
In some cases, a blood test can be done to make sure that depression is not caused by thyroid problems.
To make a diagnosis, the existing symptoms, the medical history of family members, social factors, environmental conditions, etc. are examined.
With metabolic disorders of the brain, antidepressants are prescribed. They can contribute to some improvement in the patient’s condition within 1-2 weeks from the start of medication, but the maximum effect is achieved after 2-3 months.
It is very important that the patient informs the attending physician of a weak antidepressant effect or the occurrence of side effects, as a result of which the dose of the medicine can be changed or previously prescribed drugs are replaced with other antidepressants.
As a rule, patients continue to take antidepressants for 6 months or more after their condition improves.
Depending on the type and severity of depression, psychotherapy can be used as the only treatment or prescribed in combination with antidepressants.
Psychotherapy can be individual, family and group. Family therapy helps to solve the problems that arise in couples, and group therapy is carried out simultaneously for several patients with similar symptoms.
Depending on the severity of the mental disorder, treatment can last several weeks or much longer, however, in most cases, significant improvement is achieved in 10-15 sessions.
3. Electroconvulsive therapy
This type of treatment is used for patients suffering from major and psychotic depression, as well as a bipolar disorder if other methods have not had a positive effect.
Electroconvulsive therapy involves electrical stimulation of the brain when the patient is under anesthesia.
This treatment for depression can cause some side effects, such as confusion, disorientation, or memory loss.
Typically, these side effects are short-term in nature, but sometimes memory problems can persist for several months.
4. Light therapy
Exposure to white light doses helps regulate mood and alleviate symptoms of depression in seasonal affective disorder.
Complications caused by depression
- Overweight, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
- Bouts of pain.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
- Anxiety, panic disorder, social phobia and social isolation.
- Family conflicts, difficulties in relationships, problems at work or school.
- Suicidal feelings and suicide attempts.
Depression and suicide risk
The deep despair and hopelessness that accompanies depression can make us irrationally look at the act of suicide as the only way to end the suffering.
If there is a loved one in your environment who is depressed, take any conversation about suicide or strange behavior very seriously.
- A person speaks of suicide or self-harm.
- Expresses a feeling of extreme hopelessness or falling into a trap.
- Unusual death concern.
- He behaves recklessly, as if he is walking towards his death, for example, he deliberately drives a red traffic signal on a car.
- Calls or visits friends to say goodbye.
- He puts his affairs in order, distributes valuable things.
- Says something like: “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want to leave.”
- A sharp transition from intense depression to a calm and happy state.
Depression is a serious mental disorder that can cause significant harm to you and your family.
Depression can affect all areas of your life, while it tends to worsen if you let it go by itself, which will inevitably lead to negative emotional experiences and health problems.
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