Depression can take various forms. Some people lie in bed all day, others weep constantly while many people feel as if a large black cloud hovers overhead. Yet others are affected with physical symptoms and are left feeling exhausted by the simplest of acts and have insufficient energy to take a few steps. There are even reports of depression causing blindness.
Depression is often difficult to diagnose and the usual treatment, on diagnosis, is the prescription of mind altering drugs, some of which have been found to be extremely addictive. Counselling is now a popular treatment, including cognitive behavioural therapy. Such treatment needs to be undertaken on a regular basis which is not always available to some patients due to a lack of funds and counsellors. Private treatment is, of course, always available but at a price.
Counselling can be extremely effective when carried out regularly and has the added benefit of being drug free. A counsellor will listen to the patient's problems without being judgemental. He or she then gently guides the patient to view his/her problems from a different perspective, thus enabling the patient to cope more efficiently. For someone who has experienced a major life changing event such as losing a home, counselling may not always work. Being asked to view that experience from a different perspective is sometimes easier said than done. Losing one's home is a traumatic event and no amount of counselling will help the patient to view it as anything other than disastrous, let alone trivial. The only comfort available from such counselling sessions for the patient may be in the realisation that many others are in the same boat. This knowledge alone can help the patient to understand that he/she is not completely isolated thereby sometimes helping the patient to feel less vulnerable which can be of considerable benefit.
Everyone should be aware of certain symptoms which may indicate depression. You may feel constantly tired, irritable or lack motivation. Loss of energy or changes in sleeping habits such as experiencing difficulty in sleeping, sleeping too much or waking too early can all signal the onset of depression. In addition, feelings of guilt and low self-esteem are particularly common as is the inability to make decisions. Suicidal tendencies and thoughts of death are almost always indicative of depression. `Post Partum depression is a type of depression which sometimes occurs in women who have recently given birth but can take up to a year to manifest itself. The symptoms are typical of most depressive disorders. Often there is no single cause of depression as it often results from several factors. Many people are unable to pinpoint a particular reason for feeling depressed. We know that during depression physical changes take place in the brain which proves that depression is not all in the mind.
Research has established that there is a chemical imbalance which affects the way in which signals are transmitted to the brain and nervous system. The chemicals involved are known as neurotransmitters. We also know that relationships, the death of someone close and financial problems can all contribute to depression. So also can life changing events such as marriage, employment and moving house which is reputed to be one of the most stressful events in life apart from death and divorce. Severe health problems can be another factor which can lead to depression due to stresses and strains which accompany ill-health, thus weakening the immune system.
Depression can strike at anytime and makes no distinction between rich and poor, young and old although women are twice as likely as men to succumb to depression. Hormonal changes in women caused by adolescence, the onset of periods, pregnancy and the change of life are thought to play a large part in the incidence of depression. Men suffer considerably less from depression than women but men often refuse to seek help. Consequently the condition frequently remains undiagnosed. This often leads men to turn to drug or alcohol in an attempt to conceal the condition. It should give us serious pause for reflection to learn that men are 25% more likely to commit suicide than women.
Elderly people are also prone to suffer from depression but they often attribute depressive symptoms to the ageing process. They are therefore at considerable risk of not receiving suitable treatment to alleviate their feelings of depression.
It is important to emphasise that anyone who feels depressed or down for more than a couple of weeks should see a doctor as the symptoms could point to a depressive illness. Many different drugs are available today which can help enormously in the treatment of depression and are free from the addictive effects associated with previous drugs. Overcoming depression can take time and effort and may seem insurmountable at times but please believe me it can be done. I know from personal experience that depression can be conquered so, however low you may be feeling right now you must never give up. There is a light at the end of the tunnel no matter how dark it seems at this moment.