Depression- Causes & Symptoms

This blog is one of the most demanded and important of all. I will be discussing about the symptoms, causes, treatments and some interesting and unknown facts about depression. So stick with me till the end of the blog!

Depression causes and symptoms

It’s common but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

TABLE OF CONTENT

Definition of Depression

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a mental health disorder characterised by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.

It’s a mood disorder, commonly referred to as Major Depressive Disorder. A severely depressed mood that lasts for 2 or more weeks and is accompanied by feelings of worthlessness and lack of pleasure, lethargy, and, sleep and appetite disturbances. However, we will be discussing the causes and symptoms of depression in a little while.

Before that, there is an important thing that you need to know.

This is Important!

Depression and Sadness are not the same.

Sadness is something through which we all go through at some point in our life. It might last for a maximum of 1 week, but not more than that. The reasons for sadness could range from failure in an examination to not being able to go for a friend’s marriage anniversary party.

  • The basic difference between the two is that sadness always has a cause, whereas, depression may or may not have a cause.
  • Sadness peeps in when the unpleasant event has already taken place. In some cases, depression might occur in the anticipation of the future or something that may not have occurred yet.
  • There may not be any reasonable cause to be depressed.
  • Another major difference is that in sadness self-esteem is usually maintained, whereas in depression a person usually has persistent feelings of worthlessness.

People suffering from depression have a pattern of negatively biased thoughts. They enter into a vicious cycle of negative thoughts which poses certain serious problems and consequences for them.

Some important facts about Depression…

  • Research has shown that depression is more likely to affect women more than men, especially the women in the age-group of 40 to 60 (since at this time they tend to look back at their achievements and reflect upon their lives, also women of this age have hormonal changes due to menopause)
  • Research suggests that depression is highly heritable, i.e., if one or both parents suffer from depression then there are good amounts of chances that the child will suffer from depression as s/he grows up.
  • A person who has depression has a body that has low levels of neurotransmitters: norepinephrine and serotonin. Thus, certain drugs that help in increasing these levels might prove to be fruitful for some patients to battle with their depression. (However, one should always consult a Psychiatrist before going ahead with any form of medication)
  • Research studies have shown astonishing results stating that one in six people will experience depression at some point in their lives.

Major causes of Depression

There can be many reasons why someone might go into depression. And, it is also highly possible that there might be no visible cause of depression for some. However, there are some major and common causes of Depression as highlighted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). These are:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

It is extremely important to note that these symptoms must last at least two weeks for the diagnosis of depression.

Moreover, certain biological conditions like thyroid, brain tumor, vitamin deficiency, etc might mimic the symptoms of depression. Thus, it’s important to rule out the medical causes before classifying someone as Depressed.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Feeling worthless, guilty and hopeless
  • Feelings of uncertainty about future
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Overeating or loss in appetite (other than dieting)
  • Persistent and severe headaches and cramps
  • Problems in digestion which aren’t cured even after several medications
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicidal attempts
  • Sleeping too less or sleeping too much
  • Pessimism

Treatment?

It is a treatable disorder and research suggests that between 80 to 90 percent of people respond extremely well to treatments.

  • Medication via Professional

Sometimes antidepressants are prescribed to help modify the brain’s chemistry of the patient. These are helpful and not habit-forming. However, it is best to consult a professional before going ahead with any medications.

  • Psychotherapy

It is also referred to as talk-therapy. Sometimes it’s the only therapy used for patients, and it is an extremely effective therapy for mild depression. It helps a person to recognize the problem in thinking and then providing effective interventions that would help change the behaviors and thinking patterns.

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

It’s used with patients suffering from severe depression along with other mood disorders. A brief electrical stimulation is provided to the brain while the patients remain under anesthesia. Only trained Psychiatrists can go for this mode of treatment.

What can You do to cope up with Depression?

  • Regular exercise helps alleviates the mood and keeps one healthy. (preferably in open to get exposure to the fresh environment)
  • Taking enough sleep to improve distorted sleeping patterns. This relaxes the brain as well as the body.
  • Eating a healthy diet with more fruits and fresh vegetables.
  • Avoiding the consumption of alcohol and other drugs. Alcohol and drugs may seem fancy at first but they are extremely harmful to someone going through depression. This is so because these themselves are depressants and may contribute to increasing the levels of depression.
  • Talk about it with professionals. Help is readily available and all you need to do is take the first step of talking about your problem with someone qualified to treat it, i.e. A Psychotherapist or a Psychiatrist.

It is important to keep in mind that Depression is a treatable disorder and one should consult a mental health professional to be able to deal with their situation.

There is no shame, no harm and no taboo in consulting a mental health professional or in being diagnosed with depression or any other disorder. For as is said that “Mental Health is as important as your Physical Health.”

If you are not shy to visit a general physician or a dentist then why with a mental health professional who plays an equally important role in maintaining your well-being? 

So break the taboo and talk about your Depression! Visit a Mental health professional!

Spread the knowledge with the world to help make our society more sensitive towards Mental Health.

I hope today’s blog was useful as well as informative for you. Make sure to leave your comments below. I will be really glad to respond to them all!

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Author: Sakshi Kaushik

Hey, I am Sakshi Kaushik, a student of Psychology. I am currently in the 2nd Year of my Graduation. I have created this website to increase awareness about Mental Health and to remove the stigma that comes along with it. I hope that the blogs would be interesting for you. So let's dive into this endeavor together!