Depression is becoming increasingly common. Due to increased awareness, more people are beginning to realise that it is something that requires attention, and it ‘won’t go away by itself’ and is not something that can be treated ‘by being happy and positive’.

What is depression?

Depression is a serious mental health condition. One in every four women and one in every ten men experience depression at least once in their lifetime.

What are the signs of depression?

  • Feeling low, sad, irritable or angry for a prolonged period of time
  • Decreased interest in pleasurable activities
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, worthlessness
  • Low energy, fatigue
  • Unexplained physical symptoms
  • Decreased concentration and attention
  • Psychomotor retardation or agitation (decreased or increased physical activity)
  • Disturbed sleep or appetite
  • Recurrent thoughts and/or attempts of suicide or self-harm

Who can develop depression? 

Any person, irrespective of gender or age, can develop depression at any point during their lifetime.

What are the risk factors for depression?

  • Family history of depression/any mental illness
  • Women during postpartum period and menopause
  • Physical illness
  • Poor coping strategies
  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • Marital or familial disharmony
  • Death of a close one
  • Difficult life events
  • Stress

What is the cause of depression?

  • Neurotransmitter imbalance, particularly that of serotonin, is identified as the cause of depression
  • Genetic susceptibility: increased risk of depression in those who have a family history of depression or any other mental illness

Should you seek help for depression?

Yes. Feeling hopeless or worthless can make a person feel that there is nothing worth living for. This leads to an increased risk of suicide and self-harm. Also, there is significant social, functional and occupational dysfunction, leading to poor quality of life.

Is depression treatable? How?

With the right medication and counselling, depression can be treated. A psychiatrist should be consulted for that. In addition, lifestyle modifications with attention to nutrition and exercise should be incorporated to achieve a better outcome.