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WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression is a common medical illness that negatively influences your emotions, thoughts and even actions. Though the common assumption is that depression affects the mind only, the fact is: depression affects both the mind and body. Depression is more than just about feeling sad. It is about feeling worthless, having no desire to enjoy life, feeling helpless and blaming yourself for having such feelings. Even in these dark moments, it is important to remember that depression is treatable and can be overcome given time and proper counseling.
Several types of depression can be clinically diagnosed. One of the most extreme being the Bipolar disorder, also called Manic depression.
This is a type of depression characterized by unusual mood swings and shifts in energy levels, hindering the patient’s ability to carry out normal daily activities. Changes in mood swings range from manic episodes where the patient is extremely elated and bursting with energy to depressive episodes of low energy, sadness, and feeling of despair.
Frequency and intensity of the occurrence of both episodes; and the time intervals between them vary between patients. Periods may last days or months, in severe cases losing touch with reality and developing suicidal thoughts. Some may experience an extreme high of manic episodes or moderate hypomanic episodes. Causes may be genetic, environmental factors or brain disorder. Treatment is long-term and requires a combination of both medicine and psychotherapy.
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
There is no specific cause for depression. Triggers vary from person to person. Sometimes the reason for being depressed may be apparent and easy to pinpoint, but other times the cause can be a mystery to the patient as well.
The following are common reasons that can be attributed to the development of depression:
• Frozen anger – this is anger that was not expressed when at the time of cause and became suppressed. Eventually, such anger bottles up and causes depression.
• Bereavement – losing a loved one is hard on everyone. But what leads to depression arises from how the loss is dealt with. Failing to grieve or expression of emotions can drive a moaner to despair.
• Adverse childhood experiences – emotional or physical abuse and other negative childhood experiences can still affect one as an adult if unresolved and be a contributor towards depression.
• Challenging life events – life has its challenges, but some such as loss of a job, divorce or financial problems when not properly handled can be a reason for depression.
• Social media life comparison – this is especially a contributing factor to depression among the younger generation. The constant comparison of yourself and your life with others on social media can become unhealthy when it leads to feelings of self-worthlessness.
HOW DOES DEPRESSION FEEL?
Just like the causes of depression, the signs and symptoms of depression also vary from one patient to the next. And most people fail to seek help for depression because they can’t exactly tell if they are depressed or not. If you are finding it hard to cope with your emotions and life itself, it is essential to seek help even without a self-diagnosis of depression.
If you identify yourself experiencing at least 5 of the following signs or symptoms, you could be depressed.
• Being easily irritable, agitated, restless and intolerant of others
• Being extraordinarily tearful or continuously worried and anxious.
• Being unable to concentrate, focus on a specific activity and unable to make sound decisions.
• Change in sleeping patterns; insomnia or oversleeping.
• Change in eating habits; overeating or loss of appetite..
• Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed; such as hobbies or social activities.
• A feeling of worthlessness, hopelessness and excessive guilt.
• Thoughts of committing suicide or suicide attempts.
• Unexplained and constant aches such as headaches or muscle aches.
• Inability to handle your usual responsibilities in work life or parenting life.
• Lack of motivation for living or even to carry out every day simple tasks such as getting up.
TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION
The most effective treatment for depression is Psychological therapy. This involves airing and discussing your feelings with a Psychological therapist. Sharing a problem is only half solving it. Therapist offer counseling and guidance towards self-improvement and happiness.
Successive sessions with a therapist breakdown the patient’s undesired emotion to their roots, and together come up with solutions and techniques for handling the problem.
Among other behavioral therapies, Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been helpful to the recovery process of depression patients.
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