Depression is a complex condition that affects all facets of those affected. It can produce feelings of apathy, worthlessness, irritability, feeling overwhelmed and loss of hope. It affects relationships, and normal ability to function properly.
Clinical depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a difficult period of your life. It is a prolonged sense of despair that cannot be cured simply by snapping out of it, moving on, forgetting about it, or denying your feelings.
Depression is a serious problem. According to data from the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) in United States, 10.3% of the population will suffer from major depression in any given year. Women are two to three times more likely to develop a depressive disorder.
Depression comes in many forms such as dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder, major depression, secondary depression, postpartum depression, and substance-induced depression. Each person’s symptoms and history must be correctly identified in order to receive appropriate care.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of depression vary from person to person. It is important to identify any significant physical, mental and emotional changes from how you were before your depression began.
Symptoms of major depression last longer than two weeks and are identified as:
· prolonged inner sense of depression
· diminished interest in most or all activities that used to be enjoyable
· increased irritability
· significant changes in appetite or weight change (5% +- in a month)
· significant change in sleeping patterns such as prolonged difficulty in going to sleep, early wakening, or sleeping more than normal
· less interest in sex and relationships
· unusually restless or unusually sluggish
· unduly fatigued
· persistent feelings of hopelessness and inappropriate feelings of guilt
· diminished ability to think or concentrate
· recurrent thoughts of death or suicide (this symptom requires immediate treatment)
Why am I depressed?
Depressive symptoms can be triggered by certain life-changing events in our lives like the loss of a loved one. The resulting sadness and grief normally felt can develop into depression with some people. Early childhood tragedies or trauma or having depression in your family history may predispose some people to depression.
Chronic pain or having a serious illness such as cancer or A.I.D.S. can also lead to depression. Some hormonal imbalances like a thyroid condition may also cause depression. The prolonged use of certain medications, drugs or alcohol can worsen existing depression, although using these may seem to have provide temporary relief.
People suffering from depression will likely have an imbalance of certain chemicals (neurotransmitters) in their brain that regulates emotional response. Antidepressants are designed to specifically help re-balance this condition.
Proper treatment has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of depressive symptoms.
Treatment options may include psychotherapy and the use of antidepressant medication as prescribed by a doctor or psychiatrist. Many antidepressant medications can take 4 to 8 weeks to be fully effective. Therapy or some other form of monitoring is very important during this period.
Some antidepressants have side effects like nausea, dry mouth and drowsiness. These side effects often lessen after a couple of weeks. Speak with your doctor about persistent problems.
Research indicates that the combination of psychotherapy as well as asking prescribed medication has been found to be the most beneficial treatment.
If you or someone you care about its suffering from depression it is important to know that help is available.
Let someone know how you’re feeling. Speak with your doctor or another healthcare professional about what to do. You may feel too overwhelmed right now to provide yourself with appropriate guidance. You will feel better when you obtain more information and take the first step out of depression.
Give treatment time. Give yourself time.
You do not need to be alone with your depression.
Help for the Family
It can be a very difficult and frustrating experience understanding and providing support to a family member suffering from depression. It is important that you receive valid information and learn how you might be able to help.
Family relationships that may be abusive, rejecting or dependant may predispose individuals to depression. Family therapy can reduce the risk of relapse, regardless of which came first, the problem or the depression.
Grief is a normal emotional response to loss… typically loss of a loved one but can also be from loss of a job, financial losss, etc. The emotional impact can be directly attributed to the emotional investment you have in that relationship and varies from individual to individual… there are no rules to grieving!It is often helpful to set up a few sessions that will help with your understanding of what you are going through.
If you have lost someone as a result of depression here is a link to a booklet that may help you: