Throughout the course of our lives, we all experience episodes of unhappiness, sadness, or grief precipitated by unexpected events like a failure in exams, rejection by a loved one, death of a close one, personal tragedy or difficulty such as a divorce, loss of a job, etc., and may feel depressed (some people call this "the blues").
Most of us are able to cope with these and other types of stressful events. Over a period of days or weeks, the majority of us are able to return to our normal activities. This is called Normal Reactive Depression.
Types of Depression
The two main types of depression are:
Normal reactive depression as explained above, is different from medical depressive illness. Normal reactive depression requires no treatment. Just assurances, supportive empathy, and encouragement would be useful. It does not affect your day-to-day activities and routine life. You can bounce back within a few days.
Medical depressive illness is not a normal variation of mood. The symptoms of this disease last for weeks and months and may affect your regular pattern of living. It is the illness in the brain's nerve circuits that affects or changes your thoughts, moods, behaviour, activity, attitude, habits, and personality from what you normally are.
Hormones Related to Depression
Some neurotransmitters (messenger of neurologic information from one cell to another) like serotonin (a key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness), norepinephrine (improves energy and attentiveness) and dopamine (the feel-good hormone) are less in quantity in some parts of the brain, leading to dysfunction of the brain's neural circuits.
Hence, low levels of these neurotransmitters can lead to depression. Due to fluctuation in hormones, the depressive illness also fluctuates with a few normal days of functioning and mood.
You may feel better on a few days of the week but then the depressive symptoms prevail on most days and gradually the number of days of depressive illness increases.
Symptoms if You Are Depressed
A headache, back pain, body pains, and pains in other parts of the body especially in the hands and legs.
Weakness despite eating well.
Tiredness despite doing regular work.
Difficulty in falling asleep or dissatisfaction with sleep.
Decreased appetite without any cause
Gastric problems like acidity, constipation, and bowel problems.
Other psychological symptoms include:
Feeling sad or depressed.
Loss of interest in a job leading to decreased efficiency, changing jobs and in some, job loss.
Loss of interest in housework leading to an unclean, unkempt house, delays in washing clothes and dishes, and cooking food.
Loss of interest in day to day activities like brushing teeth, bathing, wearing non-ironed clothes and lacking interest in appearance.
Feeling tired most of the time despite doing regular or less than regular work, leading to the postponement of regular work, delayed bill payments, and procrastination.
Lack of enjoyment or pleasure in activities than before, leading to dropping of hobbies, avoiding socialization, going out, or watching movies.
Feeling lazy, lethargic, and being slow, leading to the postponement of work.
Decreased concentration, leading to memory problems and forgetfulness, resulting in poor academic performance or accidents.
Decreased confidence, self-esteem, self-worthiness, or feeling inferior to others.
Indecisiveness, fickle-minded, dependant, unable to organize, plan, etc.
Paranoia. Thoughts that other people are bad, thinking bad about themselves or ignoring them and will not help them.
Thoughts of worthlessness, being a burden to family members, unworthy of the love of near and dear ones.
Thoughts of guilt, self-hate, and frustration.
Hopelessness and helplessness. Thoughts that the current situation will not improve in the future, and thoughts of being alone in the whole world.
Decreased initiation, motivation, or enthusiasm than before.
More irritability, anger, explosive behavior than before.
Abuse and addiction. All these thoughts lead to sleep medication abuse, alcohol misuse, headaches/backaches (unexplained/no clear medical cause) and painkiller abuse, antacid abuse, etc.
Suicidal tendencies. Ideas, thoughts, plans of wishing to die, or suicide harming oneself.
Treatment includes medicines and counseling or psychotherapy which includes other treatments like cognitive behavior therapy (a therapy that helps you in recognizing negative or unhelpful thoughts and behavior patterns), supportive therapy., etc.
Medication. Your psychiatrist/doctor may provide antidepressants, antianxiety, and antipsychotic drugs based on your symptoms.
Psychotherapy. This is a therapy in which you can consult and talk with a therapist, who can help you learn the skills to cope up with negative feelings. You can also benefit from the group or family therapy sessions.
Light therapy. Exposure to the doses of white light can regulate your mood and help in improving depression symptoms. This therapy is usually used in depression caused due to seasonal or environmental changes.
Alternative therapies. Your doctor will prescribe acupuncture or meditation to help you control your emotions.
Exercise. At least 30 to 40 minutes of physical exercise, three to five times a week has proven to increase endorphins (hormones that improve your mood) in your body.
Avoid alcohol and drug use. Drinking and misuse of drugs can make you feel better for a while but in the long run, these habits result in depression and anxiety.
Take Care of Yourself
You must learn to say “no” whenever needed and a constant feeling of overwhelming can result in anxiety and depression.
You need to set boundaries in your personal and professional life that can help you feel better.
You should get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, avoid negative people and indulge yourself in activities you love.
You should reduce stress in your life and try to build strong relationships with others.
Depression is hard to recognize, which means preventing it is more difficult. But once you’ve experienced a depressive episode, you may be better prepared to prevent a future episode by learning which lifestyle changes and treatments are helpful. If your treatment doesn’t work, talk to your doctor and make a better management plan.
Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.