Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness, loss of joy, anger and emptiness; it is a mood disorder that can interfere with a person’s daily activities and work. It causes a person to lose interest in things they once enjoyed, have slower productivity, poor relationships and even have problems with eating, thinking, sleeping and memory.
Although people experience depression differently, it is clearly different from grief. It is normal to get sad or feel down when upsetting events happen; however, when you constantly feel down and can’t pinpoint what is wrong, you may be suffering from depression. Without treatment, depression can get worse and become life-threatening.
The specific cause of depression is not fully understood, but several factors can contribute to or trigger it.
- Psychological and social factors.
- Changes in the brain’s neurotransmitter levels.
- Lack of social support.
- Changes in hormone levels.
- Brain chemical imbalance.
- Brain structure, such as a less active frontal lobe.
- Other medical conditions such as bipolar disorder, chronic pain, stroke, etc.
Symptoms of Depression
The general symptoms of depression can sometimes happen in our everyday life due to certain events that are inevitable; however, when these symptoms happen for unexplained reasons, when they are persistent and uncontrollable, you may be depressed.
- Being easily irritated or frustrated.
- Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping.
- Feeling very sad, worried or hopeless.
- Not enjoying the things you used to like.
- Having low energy or fatigue.
- Eating too much or too little which will result in weight loss or weight gain.
- Physical problems like stomach pain, headache, and sexual dysfunction.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering things or making decisions.
- Harbouring thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Depression is one of the few mental disorders that can be treated completely, especially when detected early. Approximately 85% of people who seek treatment for depression eventually respond positively to treatment. So here are the treatment options available:
- Medication: Antidepressant medication can help change the brain chemicals that cause depression.
- Psychotherapy: This involves talking with a mental health professional who can help identify and change unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviours.
- Brain stimulation therapy: This is done in cases of severe depression or depression with psychosis. Examples of brain stimulation therapies are vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
- Complementary medicine: These are additional treatments given along with regular medical treatment for faster results; they can include massage, acupuncture, biofeedback, and hypnosis.
Some other things that can improve the symptoms of depression include: