Everything You Need To Know About Depression

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photo credits jade rose

What is depression?

depression is also known as major depressive disorder and it is a very common and serious illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed and sometimes you may feel as if life isn`t worth living.

what causes depression?

abuse: past physical, sexual or emotional abuse may increase the vulnerability to clinical depression later in life.

conflict: everyone is built differently, and sometimes one might be biologically vulnerable to depression than another person, in this case the person who is biologically vulnerable to depression may easily get depression from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.

certain medications: some drugs such as isotretinoin (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, oral contraceptives, high blood pressure drugs and even statins that treat high cholesterol can increase your risk of depression by altering brain chemicals in some way.

death or loss: when you lose someone or something close to you through death, divorce, breakup, it is normal to experience grief. But sometimes grieving can take over your life, causing helplessness, feeling of being unworthy and suicidal thoughts, this is depression.

genetics: a family history of depression can cause you to have depression as well. A British research team isolated a gene that appears to be prevalent in multiple family members with depression. The chromosome 3p25-26 was found in more than 800 families with recurrent depression. Scientists believe that as many as 40% of those with depression can trace it to a genetic link.

major events: isn’t it worrying that even good events such as graduating, getting marries, starting a new job, moving to a different place can cause depression? So can losing a job , getting a divorce, these events can cause stress and stress can cause depressive symptoms.

serious illnesses: a serious illness is a condition that lasts for a very long time and usually cannot be cured completely, these may cause a lot of stress and hence depression to the patient. Many people with serious illnesses experience depression, in fact, depression is one of the most complications of serious illnesses.

substance abuse: substance abuse and mental health disorders such as depression are closely linked, and while some substance abuse can cause prolonged psychotic reactions, one does not directly cause the other, if you are at risk of depression, substance abuse may push you to depression. Some research has shown that certain abusers of marijuana have an increased risk of psychosis, while those who abuse opioid painkillers such as fentanyl are at a greater risk of depression.

personality traits: depression may be caused by personality-based factors with actual episodes generally triggered by social stressors.  According to scientist Gordon Parker from Australia, Research has identified a number of personality styles that put people at risk:

  1. those with high levels of general anxiety who are at risk of depression because of their worrying, catastrophising propensities, and their tendency to take things too personally.
  2. “shy” people who are often this way due to having been bullied or humiliated in their early years. They often view social interactions with others as threatening in comparison to the safety of their own company.
  3. those who were neglected or abused in their early years and those who therefore have low basic self-worth. They often repeat such cycles of deprivation and abuse in their adult relationships, and so readily become depressed.
  4. those who are “hypersensitive” to judgement by others. This could be praise or feeling (perhaps inappropriately) they are being rejected or abandoned. These people often respond by sleeping ore and craving certain foods that may settle their emotional dysfunction.
  5. “self-focused” individuals who are hostile and volatile with others, blame others when things go wrong, and prioritize their own needs. When depressed, they tend to show a “short fuse” and create collateral damage for those around them.
  6. perfectionists who are prone to self-criticism and a loss of pride. They may also have a range of adaptive strategies to stress.

is it depression?

symptoms of depression:

Behaviour:

  • not going out anymore
  • not getting things done at work or at school
  • withdrawing from close family and friends
  • relying on alcohol and sedatives
  • not doing usual enjoyable activities
  • unable to concentrate

feelings

  • overwhelmed
  • guilty
  • irritable
  • frustrated
  • lacking in confidence
  • unhappy
  • indecisive
  • disappointed
  • miserable
  • sad

thoughts

  • i am a failure
  • it`s my fault
  • nothing good ever happens to me
  • I’m worthless
  • life`s not worth living
  • people would be better off without me
  • I am stupid

physical

  • tired all the time
  • sick and run down
  • headache and muscle pains
  • churning gut
  • sleep problems
  • loss or change of appetite
  • significant weight loss or gain

types of depression:

  1. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

this is commonly referred to as clinical depression. Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder characterised by feelings of worthlessness and guilt, fatigue, depressed mood, changes in sleep, lack of interests in activities in your day to day life, changes in weight, diverted attention, thoughts of death and suicide. if a person experiences most of these symptoms for a period longer than two weeks, they will be diagnosed with MDD/clinical depression.

  1. Persistent Depressive Disorder

it is also called Dysthymia. It is a form of continuous (chronic) depression. Although symptoms of dysthymia maybe less severe than other types of depression, they are longer lasting in duration. Persistent Depressive Disorder can begin in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. This type of depression is more common in females than in males. You may lose interest in your day to day activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, lack self-esteem and have an overall feeling of inadequacy. These feelings last for years and may interfere with your relationships, school, work and daily activities.

3.Bipolar disorder

This is a mood disorder characterized by periods of extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). The exact cause of bipolar disorder isn`t known, but a combination of genetics, environment, and altered brain structure and chemistry may play a role. when you become depressed you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest and pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania, you may feel euphoria or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgement, behavior and the ability to think clearly. Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, but can be treated with medications and psychotherapy.

types of bipolar disorder

  • bipolar disorder I. you have experienced at least one maniac episode that may be followed by hypomania or major depressive episodes. In some cases, mania may trigger a break from reality. (psychosis)
  • Bipolar ii disorder: You have had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but you have never had a maniac episode
  • cyclothymic disorder: you have had at least two years or one year in children and teenage years of many periods of hypomania symptoms, though less severe than major depression.
  • other types: these include, for example, bipolar and related disorders induced by certain drugs or alcohol or due to a medical condition such as Cushing`s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke.
  1. postpartum Depression

pregnancy can come along with major hormonal shifts that may affect a mother’s moods. Depression can begin during pregnancy or following the birth of a child. It can range from a persistent feeling of sadness and anxiety that requires medical treatment all the way up to postpartum psychosis, an episode in which the mood episode is accompanied by confusion, hallucinations or delusions. Those who develop postpartum depression are at risk of developing major depression later in life.

5.Atypical Depression

This type of depressions characterised by mood reactivity accompanied by two or more of the following symptoms

  • increased appetite or weight gain
  • hypersomnia or excessive sleep
  • leaden paralysis (heavy feeling in arms and legs)
  • a strong sensitivity to interpersonal rejection that leads to significant social or occupational problems.

6.Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

The common symptoms of PMDD are fatigue, anxiety, moodiness, bloating, increased appetite, food cravings, aches, breast tenderness among other pms symptoms. In cases of more pronounced PMDD the patient will experience extreme fatigue, feeling sad, severe feelings of stress and anxiety, mood swings, often with bouts of crying, irritability, inability to concentrate and sometimes binging and food cravings.

7.Seasonal Affective Disorder

This is a mood order characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year. The patient will have normal mental health through most of the year before SAD. The symptoms include no interest in usual activities, excessive sleep and binge eating. It is believed that the reason why most people experience SAD during winter is because SAD is triggered by a disturbance in the normal circadian rhythm of the body, light entering through the eyes influences this rhythm, and any seasonal variation in day/night pattern can cause disruption leading to depression.

Treating Depression:

If you think you may be having depression, visit a psychiatrist, who will diagnose and prescribe a suitable medication or therapy.