What is Depression?
Depression is a common and serious mood disorder. It’s more than just feeling down or sad in response to life’s struggles and setbacks. Depression causes people to lose pleasure from daily life, can increase the risk of many health problems, and can even be serious enough to trigger a suicide. The disease must be given more attention and treated as a global public health priority. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7.6 percent of people over the age of 12 have depression in any 2-week period. Depression is also the second most common cause of disability worldwide after back pain, according to a review of research.
What Causes Depression?
The United States National Institutes of Health say that depression comes from the brain. However, scientists are still trying to find out exactly why it happens because the causes of depression are not fully understood so far. Generally, depression does not result from a single factor, but from a complex combination of factors that include genetics, biological, environmental, psychological and social. A lot of things can contribute to depression, and there are many theories about what causes depression; the possible causes include:
1. Life Events
What happens during the daytime may affect your mood at night. It’s apparent that continuous frustrations, strikes, and failures can make us feel down. Scientific research also supports a link between continuing difficulties and depression. Such difficulties may include having no job for a long period of time, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, always feeling lonely, and excessive stress from work.
2. Family History
Individuals who have a family history of depression are at elevated risk of having depression. Until now, dozens of genetic risk factors have been identified in depression, and some of the most significant include certain variants of the genes SLC6A4 (encoding the serotonin transporter), CRHR1, FKBP5, and BDNF. But like many other diseases, depression results from the combination of genetics and environmental factors. Having genetic risk factors or having a parent or close relative with depression doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get depression. In addition to genetics, there are many other factors contribute to depression.
Some people may be more at risk of depression because of their personality, particularly if they have a tendency to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative.
4. Certain Diseases
Some devastating diseases are hard to treat and can cause lots of sufferings. People with such diseases may have to receive intensive treatment for a long period of time, which can cause physical, mental and social stress that may result in depression.
5. Drug and Alcohol use
Drug and alcohol use can be not only the causes of depression but also the consequences of depression. It’s reported that lots of people both have depression and the problem of the abuse of a substance.
Symptoms of Depression
Although symptoms of depression vary greatly from one person to another, there are some common signs and symptoms. People often feel sad or down, and lose interest or pleasure in daily life. Depression is technically a mental illness, but it also affects your body and well-being. The person you are and the traits you possess can be altered dramatically if these symptoms persist and affect your life substantially. The most common symptoms of depression include:
- An inability to function normally in everyday life.
- An inability to enjoy activities you once loved, such as reading, playing video games, drawing, etc.
- Tiredness, lethargy, and the feeling of low energy.
- The feeling of blue, sad, or down for a prolonged period of time (at least 2 weeks), uncontrollable or frequent crying, and the feelings of anxiety, emptiness, worthlessness, self-blame and a lack of self-esteem.
- Sleeping much more or less than usual, or experiencing insomnia.
- Unusual weight gain or loss, overeating or appetite loss.
- Finding thinking or concentrating difficult, “foggy” thinking, inability to make clear decisions or forgetfulness.
- Pessimism — a mental attitude, a tendency, or a negative thinking pattern that causes an individual to see, anticipate or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes. Pessimists often think that life is hopeless, pointless and futile, which may result in a feeling of numbness.
- Body pains, cramps, digestive problems, headaches, and other aches that don’t go away with medication or treatment.
- Being irritable or restless for a long time.
- Thoughts about death or suicide, and attempts to suicide.
How to Deal with Depression?
Depression is actually a treatable mental illness. There are plenty of helpful solutions and effective treatments you can take to lift and stabilize your mood before things get worse. And the earlier treatment begins, the earlier you’ll feel better. Treatment commonly involves a combination of medication, therapy, and support.
- Support, ranging from discussing practical solutions and controlling stresses, to educating family members.
- Psychotherapy, also known as talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
- Drug treatment, specifically antidepressants which are available on prescription from a doctor. Drugs come into use for moderate to severe depression, but are not recommended for children, and will be prescribed only with caution for adolescents.
- Aerobic exercise, like running and biking, may help against mild depression since it raises the hormone endorphin levels and stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which is related to mood.
- Brain stimulation therapies – including electroconvulsive therapy – are also used in depression.Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation sends magnetic pulses to the brain and may be effective in major depressive disorder.
It takes time to overcome depression, and regain your joy of life. Remember that you can’t always identify the cause of depression or change difficult circumstances. The most important thing is to recognize the signs and symptoms and take actions to deal with it earlier on before it becomes excruciating. People do not seek treatment for depression because they do not recognize the signs or symptoms that something may be wrong, and many do not take the symptoms seriously enough until their lives get badly affected. We can not simply ignore this disease and hope it just magically disappears. No matter how you experience depression, left untreated it can become a serious health condition.