What is depression?
Depression is not just a state of mind. It is related to physical changes in the brain and is connected to an imbalance of a type of chemical that carries signals in the brain and nerves. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.
Types of depression
There are two types of depression: One, which originates from bad or disturbing events in one's life and one, which appears without apparent cause. Out of the two the latter is the most common and the former type is easier to tackle because the cause is known. The first step is to deal with the event that set off the depression. The latter type is more difficult to deal with as the source is unknown.
Kinds of depression
The two kinds of depression are: The sad kind, called major depression, or dysthymia; and manic-depression or bipolar illness.
Dysthymia - Depressed mood for most of the day, for more days than not, as indicated either by subjective account or observation by others, for at least 2 years. Note: In children and adolescents, mood can be irritable and duration must be at least 1 year. Treatment involves psychotherapy or cognitive therapy (also known as "talk therapy") is used to alter people's self-defeating thoughts. . Behavioral therapy may help people learn how to act with a more "positive approach" to life and to communicate better with friends, family and co-workers.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy and ability to function. Manic depression can be treated and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.
Depression has no single cause. It often results from a combination of various factors. However, some people may feel like they know exactly why they are having these feelings of hopelessness. These could be because;
. Their partner just broke up with them;
. A loved one or a pet died;
. They just lost their job;
. They are being teased by their friends for some physical disability or something else.
Basically it is because of something sad that occurred in their life.
At other times, however, the reasons for such hopelessness is not quite as clear. There may not be just one cause for it but a various number of contributing factors that may accumulate over a period of time and subsequently lead to these feelings of hopelessness. You may not have any idea why depression has struck you. However, whatever the cause, some of the more frequent factors involved are;
. Family history of depression - it can run in families for generations and generations
. Trauma and stress - as mentioned earlier break-up of a relationship, the loss of a loved one etc.
. A pessimistic personality by nature - people who generally have low self-esteem and a negative attitude run a higher risk of becoming depressed.
. Physical conditions - medical conditions like cancer, AIDS, heart disease and other illnesses can contribute to these feelings of hopelessness, partly because of the physical weakness and stress they bring on. These feelings of hopelessness in turn can make the medical conditions worse, since it weakens the immune system and can make the pain harder to bear. In some cases, depression can be caused by medications used to treat medical conditions.
. Other psychological disorders - Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia Symptoms of depression
There can be emotional symptoms as well as the physical symptoms. Some of the emotional symptoms can be:
. A feeling of sadness or hopelessness throughout the day
. Recurring thoughts of death or committing suicide,
. Becoming irritated easily and having feelings of sadness
. Feeling that you are no longer worth anything,
. Problems in concentrating or making decisions,
. Loss of interest in doing anything even things that hold your interest,
. Having feelings of excessive guilt.
The physical symptoms can be:
. Feeling tired easily
. Drastic changes in appetite or weight,
. Body aches and pains,
. Pain in the back,
. Frequent headache and dizziness,
. Sleeping too much or too little,
. Digestive disorders.
Who is at risk?
These feelings of despair are said to be more common in women than in men. This is of course is on a worldwide basis. In the United States, depression is the main cause of disability in women and the ration is 2:1. One out of every eight women will experience major depression at some time in their life. One reason that the statistics are higher for women than for men is that it is underreported in men. The experts also believe that there may also be other, more complex reasons for women's greater vulnerability to depression.
The first step is being honest with oneself about changes in ones moods or the intensity of negative feelings as they occur. This will help to identify the possible sources of depression or stress. The sufferer should examine their feelings and try to determine what is troubling them - it could be various issues, relationships with family or friends, financial problems and so on. Sometimes discussing these problems with the people involved or with an understanding friend can bring about a resolution before a critical stage of stress is reached. Even the mild kind of depression should be dealt with if it interferes with your effectiveness.
The things that would help oneself in the midst of hopelessness are the same things that can help you avoid it.
. If you are on medication for it, stay on it. You should never assume you can stop the medication just because you feel okay at the moment. Don't change the recommended dosage or quit without talking to your doctor first.
. Maintain a regular program of exercise as this can both help lift and prevent depression.
. Maintain a healthy diet taking care to avoid junk foods.
. Develop several healthy relationships. Loneliness and isolation often feed depression.
. Maintain a healthy spiritual life.
. Try as hard as possible to have a positive outlook on life.