All you need to know about Depression
In our current times, depression is one of the common mental illnesses all over the world.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people of every age group suffer from depression worldwide. Most institutions and experts count it as a significant contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
Depression is the root cause behind climbing rates of suicide cases in recent years. Around 800000 people take their lives every year due to depression, which makes it a grave concern.
So, let us understand depression in a little more detail.
What is Depression?
Depression can be described as a mental health disorder characterized by constantly depressed mood, loss of interest and aversion to activities, resulting in significant impairment of everyday life. It can adversely affect a person’s thoughts, emotions, behavior, mood, state of mind and sense of well being.
People in depression experience extreme sadness, despair, hopelessness, dejection, worthlessness, self – doubt and self – blame. They also experience difficulty in thinking, concentrating, decision – making, loss of appetite or high cravings for food leading to either drastic weight loss or weight gain, and insomnia or oversleeping. It negatively interferes in the sufferer’s life and adversely influences his personal life, work, health and relationships.
In recent years, authorities have noted that the incidents of extreme stress and depression are rising rapidly all over the world.
Symptoms of Depression
Mostly, different people react differently to depression. The symptoms of depression differ in men, women and children. It interferes with their mood, profession or work, personal life, health, relationships and other aspects of life.
People suffering from depression may experience episodes of intense sadness or may persistently feel blue. They may feel a lack of interest, hopelessness and dejection.Their motivation levels to perform any task, even the simplest ones, fell tremendously. Some people find it difficult to even get out of their beds.
People facing long – term depression or high – intensity depression may get suicidal thoughts. If you are also dealing with these kind of thoughts, we recommend you to seek support from your friends and family and get emergency medical help.
The most common symptoms of depression in people are –
- Feeling sadness, emptiness, hopelessness and dejection
- Loss of interest and lack or no pleasurable feeling in activities you once loved
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Irritation, agitation, frustration and angry outburst
- Lack of energy, tiredness or fatigue
- Reduced sex drive
- Changes in appetite – either decreased appetite leading to weight loss or increased food cravings and overeating resulting in sudden weight gain
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or oversleeping
- Difficulty in thinking, speech and body movements
- Feeling negative emotions like worthlessness or guilt frequently. Some people also fixate on their past failures and blame themselves
- Experiencing physical health issues like headaches or body pains
- Frequent thoughts about death or suicide, or tried suicide attempt
The symptoms of depression can cause noticeable problems in work, education, social activities and personal relationships. So, it is crucial to identify these if someone is going through depression. Most of the time, people experiencing these emotions or symptoms can not recognize or acknowledge that they are going through depression.
Symptoms of Depression in Men
As we have said earlier, the symptoms of depression in men can be a little different from that of women.
Typically, men with depression are less likely to talk about it than women. Also, they have higher tendencies to act out and quickly get angry, display aggressive emotions, engage in risk – taking activities, use drugs or excessively drink alcohol than women.
Some of the symptoms of depression in men include –
Mood – irritability, frustration, restlessness, anxiety, aggressiveness anger and rage
Cognitive Abilities – difficulty in thinking and concentrating, inability to complete complex tasks, slow body movements and delayed responses while conversing
Behavior – Loss of interest in jobs, lack of pleasure in enjoyable activities, seems to get tired quickly, risk – taking behavior, drinking heavily, drugs usage, and frequent thoughts about suicide or death
Emotional Wellbeing – Hopelessness, emptiness, sadness, and grief
Sexual Life – Lower sex drive, decreased sexual interest and low sexual performance
Sleep Pattern – Lack of sleep or insomnia, wake up a few times during the night or restless sleep, excessive sleeping during the day, or feeling tired and sleepy all the time
- Physical Wellness – Body pains, headaches or digestive problems
Symptoms of Depression in Women
Women play several significant roles in life like a mother, wife, employee, friend and caregiver. The complexity of her day – to – day life activities can create ups and downs throughout her life. Plus, women have a complex body structure. Changes in hormones during pregnancy or menstrual cycles can also impact her mood and behavior.
Women are more vulnerable to depression than men. Studies have suggested that they are twice as more likely to experience depression than men.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression in women are –
Mood – persistently sad, anxious, restless or irritated
Cognitive Abilities – can not think clearly, troubles in concentration and decision – making, difficulty in remembering things, delayed responses and talk more slowly
Behavior – loss of interest in daily activities, try to withdraw from social gatherings or social engagements, thoughts of suicide or death
Emotional Wellbeing – anxiety, sadness, emptiness and mood swings. Most women ruminate over their past failures, dwell on negative emotions, blame or doubt themselves
Sexual Life – lower sex drive, decreased sexual energy
Sleep Pattern – very less sleep at night, insomnia, or sleeping most of the time
- Physical Health – low energy, weakness, tiredness, fatigue, body pains, headaches, either feeling a too hungry or complete loss of hunger, either drastic weight gain or weight loss
The major differences between males and females’ behaviors going through depression are while women blame themselves for past failures and doubt themselves; men usually blame others.
Also, women feel anxious, scared and try to avoid conflicts as much as possible in depression; men act out, get angry, express aggressiveness, create conflicts and jump into risky situations.
Symptoms of Depression in Young Adults and Children
Although most people believe that only adults can experience depression in their lives, reality has suggested otherwise.
Physical changes in the body, emotional traumas, peer pressure, exam performance pressure, stress at school or home and other factors can create tremendous pressure on children and adolescents. Some of these factors contribute to developing signs and symptoms of depression in young adults and children. So, parents, guardians and teachers need to learn more about it to help their children or wards.
Some of the symptoms of depressions in children and young adults are –
Mood – experiences sadness, irritability, anger, mood swings and cry a lot
Cognitive Abilities – trouble concentrating on their school work, difficulty in memorizing and remembering things, a decline in school and examination performance, grades fell drastically
Behavior – withdraw from friends, siblings and family, refuse to go to school or other social gatherings, get into trouble at school, cling more to their loved or most trusted ones like mother or father, feel restless, and thoughts of suicide or death
Emotional Wellbeing – feel incompetent, helpless or worthless, self – doubt, experience persistent sadness or despair, and cry all the time
Sleep Pattern – difficulty in sleeping or oversleeping
- Physical Wellness – lack of energy, do not eat very well or overeat, avoid playing, weight gain or weight loss, and digestive issues
Causes of Depression
There are several factors such as genetics, biological, environmental, circumstantial and psychological that can play a role in causing depression in people.
Also, several illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases etc. can trigger depression in people. Sometimes, medications used to treat these diseases can contribute to worsening the depression symptoms.
The most common symptoms of depression are –
Family History of Depression (Genetics)
Those people are more likely to develop depression whose parents, grandparents or other blood relatives have experienced this condition. Several studies and research are going on to learn more about this subject.
Biology can also play a part in causing depression. It has been observed that people whose frontal lobe of the brain is less active are more at risk of developing depression. Also, changes in the function of naturally occurring brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters and the way they interact with neurocircuits play a significant role in causing depression.
Hormonal Changes in the Body
The hormonal changes in the body during periods, pregnancy, after delivery (postpartum), menopause, thyroid problems and other conditions can trigger depression in women.
Health Conditions or Diseases
Some chronic health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, insomnia, chronic pain, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can also increase the risk of depression in people.
People who get involved in alcohol or drug misuse or have a history of alcohol or drug misuse are more likely to develop depression.
Risk Factors of Depression
Depression can occur at any age. However, typically, people in their 20s or 30s experience it more often. Also, women are more likely to get depression than men. These are some of the factors that can raise the risk of depression in people.
Some other common risk factors of depression are –
- People with certain personality traits or characteristics such as those with low self – esteem, pessimistic nature, self – critical behavior or too dependent on someone are more likely to experience depression.
- Those who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic situation, such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse, death of a loved one, divorce, complicated relationships or financial problems are more vulnerable to depression.
- People who have a family history of depression, suicide, bipolar disorder or alcoholism.
- People with a history of mental health disorders such as anxiety disorder, eating disorders or post – traumatic stress disorder
- People who frequently participate in an alcohol or recreational drug abuse
- Those who are suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, cancer or chronic pain are more prone to developing conditions for depression
- Certain medications like sleeping pills or some high blood pressure pills can also trigger depression or make its symptoms worse
Complications of Depression
Depression is a severe condition that should not be taken lightly and can get worse if not treated properly. It can raise serious emotional, behavioral and health problems if not handled at the proper time.
The most common complications of depression are –
- Depression can lead to weight gain or obesity which can further elevate the risks of diabetes, heart diseases or metabolic disorders
- It can trigger anxiety or panic attacks in the sufferer
- It can lead to social phobia and social isolation
- Depression can take a toll on relationships and personal life too. It can lead to relationship troubles, marriage problems, family conflicts, and problems with colleagues or friends at work or school
- People suffer from pains or physical illnesses in depression
- Depressed people are more likely to get into the habit of alcohol or drug misuse
- The biggest threat of depression in people is self – inflicted harm, injury or suicide
Prevention of Depression
There are no sure ways to avoid depression since sometimes it is difficult to identify the exact reason causing it.
However, for those who have experienced a depressive episode or phase in their life, they should better prepare themselves by including healthy lifestyle habits, learning good strategies and coping mechanisms to prevent further bouts of depression in future.
Some of the methods and strategies to prevent depression are as follows –
Reduce Stress -
Although it is not always possible to avoid stress altogether, reducing or managing it helps in preventing anxiety and depression.
Typically, people who have chronic stress are more susceptible to developing depression. High stress also hurts mental health, life satisfaction and overall health.
To reduce stress in life, you should -
- Stop overcommitting at work or in personal life
- Learn to say ‘NO’ to extra demands from others
- Take enough breaks from work
- Exercise regularly
- Get proper rest and sleep
- Practice breathing exercises and meditation
- Learn to let go of things that are not in your control
Regular Exercise or Workout -
Regular exercise boosts both physical and mental health, and it also keeps depression away.
During a workout, our body releases a chemical substance known as endorphins that reduces stress and promotes a good mood. It also has a relaxing effect on our central nervous system. It is the reason that most people feel good after an exercise or workout session.
You can join a gym or a local sports team. This way, you will meet new people and become a member of a community also along with staying active.
Eat Healthy Foods -
A recent study has indicated that eating healthful foods can help prevent depression. Regularly eating high – fat foods can contribute to developing depression.
So, to prevent episodes of depression in future, you should eat a balanced and nutritious diet rich with proteins, vitamins and omega – 3 fatty acids. And try to limit the intake of high – fat, high – sugar and processed foods as much as possible.
Get Good Sleep -
Lack of sleep or insomnia can make symptoms of depression worse. Many experts strongly recommend taking a good night’s sleep to prevent stress and depression.
People who find it difficult to get a restful and peaceful sleep at night should -
- go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time every day
- make a habit to exercise regularly to tire themselves for the night
- avoid any screen for at least 2 hours before going to bed
- avoid caffeine intake in the evenings
A night of good, restful sleep helps to quiet a troubled mind, reduces stress and prevents depression.
Create Strong Relationships -
Strong relationships, robust support system and an active social life have a positive impact on our mental health.
So, if you have experienced depression in your life, you should stay connected with their friends and family regularly. Also, attending social events and finding new hobbies will help you in meeting new people and creating new relationships.
Avoid Toxic People -
Toxic people are those who try to make us feel bad about ourselves and fill our environment with negativity. Sometimes, it is an outright bully. Other times, they shrewdly and slowly put us down to feel better about themselves. These people always hurt our self – esteem and must be avoided altogether.
So, it is better if you can avoid and stay away from those people who make you feel bad about yourself, take advantage of you, talks badly about you, or spread false rumours about you.
Strictly Avoid Alcohol or Drug Use -
The excessive use of drugs or recreational drugs is linked with a higher risk of depression.
Commonly, it has been observed that most people who suffer from depression also have alcohol or drug abuse disorder.
So, people who have depression must try to strictly avoid alcohol or any other drug. Also, those who have problems at both ends must try to seek help for both conditions – depression and alcohol or drug use.
Reduce your Exposure to Common Triggers -
Avoiding factors that can trigger stress or anxiety can help in preventing depression.
Some of the common triggers are -
- Excessive exposure to news
- Frequently checking social media on your device
- Having very little sleep at night
If it is not possible to entirely avoid these triggers due to your profession or job, try to reduce their exposure to a minimum.
Manage your Chronic Conditions properly -
There are some chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases or cancer that also increase the risk of depression. Since it is not possible to avoid these conditions entirely, these must be adequately managed to prevent depression.
Make required lifestyle changes, take your medications on time and immediately consult your doctor if you feel that depression is coming back or its symptoms are becoming worse.
The Bottom Line
Everyone goes through the highs and lows in life. Feeling joy and sadness is a normal part of life.
Sometimes, due to some negative events or circumstances, we get upset or sad for some time. However, it becomes worrisome when we start feeling sadness, anger or grief persistently.
Depression can be a temporary, short – term or long – term challenge. It can make our regular daily life extremely difficult. So, it is crucial to identify the symptoms of depression and seek help at the right time.