Depression - Major Depressive Disorder
When bad vibes take over one’s life to a point that you no longer remember how it has first begun, you may feel like you are depressed. Depression is so common and commonly known among people that most people take mild signs of stress as depression. Most of the time, it is not as bad as depression or otherwise known as major depressive disorder. How exactly will you recognize depression or major depressive disorder? What can you do about it?
What is Major Depressive Disorder?
Major depressive disorder, otherwise known as depression is a mood disorder. It is a common but also a very serious situation. The symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder affects thinking, decision making and the general quality of life. Those with depression find it difficult to enjoy life and be happy. In other words, it becomes a significant part of one’s life and affects the overall function, negatively. Some of the daily happenings that might not function properly by depression due to depression are eating, sleeping, walking, concentration, energy, mood, happiness, positivity, etc. If these situations persist without treatment, situations are common where depressed individuals seek suicide.
Different forms of depression
There are different types of depression, based on the time they have lasted, the symptoms and other factors.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
A depression-related state that has been so without a change for at least two years can be diagnosed with Persistent Depressive Disorder. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may experience events of significant and noticeable depression as well as times when the symptoms are much less severe in effect. However, to be diagnosed with this disorder, the symptoms should have remained for at least two years.
Mild depression during pregnancy and after giving birth is normal. This can take place due to the rapid body changes, mood changes and all the new challenges including anxiety about childbirth and the incoming new life. However, Postpartum depression is not that. Some women experience major depression just after they give birth, making them unsuccessful carers to their newborns and even to themselves. This depression can take place either during delivery or soon after. Due to this situation, new mothers feel extremely unhappy, sad, exhausted, unfit and anxious.
This situation can occur if the person is also suffering from some sort of a psychotic issue. Psychotic people suffer from delusions and hallucinations which mess with their ability to interact with the real world. Most psychotic patients that understand they are hallucinating suffer due to their sickness, making them easily susceptible to depression. They also often suffer from guilt, hearing imaginary upsetting words that affect their mood, other illnesses causing psychosis.
This is a common occurrence for most women that they experience just before their monthly period. The hormone rise and fall can cause irritability, mood swings, unhappy for no reason among other signs. This is a temporary situation and goes away when the period starts.
This is very similar to major depression but much worse in symptoms. Those with Atypical Depression find themselves being very tired, weak, lethargic, getting more and more sleep and eating without engaging in any exercise. They are likely to put on a lot of weight and be extremely sensitive to others opinions.
Seasonal Affective Depression
Feeling better and worse depending on the seasons is seasonal depression. For those with this problem, winters and summers may feel good while autumn and spring trigger their depressive symptoms. These symptoms are usually the normal depressive symptoms which involve lethargy, fatigue, too much sleep or no sleep, eating disorders, etc.
This is not necessarily a type of depression. Rather, any type of depression that a professional clinician diagnosis falls under this category. However, this is not a term anyone uses very often anymore.
10 Noticeable Symptoms of Depression
Below are some of the most common and noticeable depressive symptoms.
This is one of the striking features of someone who is going through depression. In their eyes the world does not make sense, everything is going bad and nothing will get better again. They do not believe that better days are coming and are likely to have a bleak and dead outlook on life without any hope.
they may have a strong sense of feeling not good enough. Also, they believe they are worthless and are very hard on themselves. They also believe that they do not deserve good things.
Losing interest in life
They are likely to be distant in association and overall happenings of life. They are no longer taking an interest in things that used to enlighten them and excited them. Sex, hobbies, people they love, hardly matter anymore. It is almost as if joy is no longer a part of their life.
One sign of depression is either overeating or not eating as much as they used to. Severe and significant appetite changes is another sign of depression. For no apparent reason, they may either stop or overeat which will change their body weight drastically.
Insomnia is another sign of depression. However, just like in the case of appetite, oversleeping is also a sign of depression. An unexplainable change in your/ your loved ones sleeping cycle coupled with some of the other symptoms could suggest depression.
Depressed people are likely to be very easily irritable. A very small incident can trigger them greatly. They are always ready to get violent, mad, angry or agitated and are very difficult to associate due to this.
Fatigued and lethargic
A significant and clear drop of energy is present in those that are going through depression. They are unlikely to take part in activities and are more likely to sleep all day or stay on a couch without much interaction.
Those with depression can have trouble paying attention to detail. They can no longer succeed in school or work because they are likely to doze off and not focus on their responsibilities. If you notice a sudden drop in your child’s performance at school or your loved one losing the job they used to love, you may need to pay attention to their mental health.
Bodily pains without an explanation
even though depression is a mental health problem, signs can sometimes appear physically. Unexplained body pains and aches that do not have an explanation or a clear way of origin could be a depression indication.
Those who have depression have very low regard for life. They are already hopeless and feeling worthless so they will take a jump at risky behaviour, substance abuse, speeding or engaging in risky sports.
What can cause depression?
Pay attention to the below factors that are most likely to be the reason behind depression according to research.
Like many other disorders, depression can run in the blood. If one’s parents, siblings or close relative is suffering from depression, there is a chance that the rest of the family can have it. However, someone who is perfectly happy and content is going to be depressed out of nowhere just because of their genes. If this does become a problem, that is due to a trigger.
Stress and life issues
This is the most common reason for depression. Lasting stress can develop into depression with the continuous strain it has on one’s mental health. When difficulties such as poverty, unemployment, fights, abuse, isolation and loneliness and stress at work for a long time can cause depression. Those who are in relationships where their significant other does not care are also prone to being depressed. Add to this are the sudden or significant events that take place in one’s life such as a death of a loved one, losing a job, divorce, being diagnosed with a serious or incurable disease are at a better chance of getting depressed. If the genetic factor is already there, these things can be very easy triggers.
Drug/ Alcohol or Substance use
This can happen in two ways. Those with alcohol or drug addiction are likely to be already depressed and have started using these external and temporary escapes when life got too hard. However, drug and alcohol abuse can lead to depression as well. This can be due to family problems, social problems, work-related problems etc.
Unhealthy life habits
Eating things that one should not consume too much, not getting any exercise or being active, drug or alcohol usage, are some of the unhealthy habits that can lead to depression. Being overweight and underweight or attracting illnesses due to the lack of exercising can take a toll on someone physical health and ultimately their mental health.
Long term use of medication
Medications have a lot of side effects which are most common to their kind depending on the illness. Some of these are fatigue, drowsiness, appetite loss, etc. Long term usage of such medications can lead to someone suffer from permanent, drowsy, sleepy, and generally inactive and uninterested in life. Also depending on the illness the stress of medication can change. For example, a person diagnosed with psychosis knows that they are only able to stay in touch with reality if they take the medication on time. This puts a strain on ones mental health by making one feel permanently sick and abnormal.
Grief and loss
Experiencing a sudden and significant loss can also turn someone world around in a heartbeat. When that happens they may have a hard time getting through the pain and coming back to their life. In other words, they are going to be in a cycle of moaning and grieving causing depression. Examples for this situation can be finding out your long term partner cheated, the sudden death of your pet, the death of a parent, sibling or a loved one or if the patient is somehow indirectly or directly involved in these deaths.
How depression varies based on age and gender.
Men are less likely to acknowledge or get help for their depression. However, this in no way means that they are less likely to suffer from depression. According to research, men’s suicidal rate is 4 times higher than that of women. Suicide becomes a choice when you do not receive or reach out for help as soon as the symptoms come into notice. Social norms of toxic masculinity where men can not ask for help in the fear of looking weak plays a huge part in this problem. When men are going through depression, they are more likely to be angry, hostile, distant, and get into drug or substance abuse.
Women are more likely to get help for their symptoms which are mostly oversleeping, weight gain, guilt, overeating, etc. As opposed to men, hormones play a huge role in depression women might experience. For example, pregnancy, postpartum depression, post and premenstrual depression and menopause.
Teenagers are prone to mood swings and other behavioural changes with the rapid transition they go through at this age. Their depression is mostly caused by rejection or feeling unwanted, which can lead to hopelessness, feeling unworthy, which will come out in the form of anger, agitation and bodily symptoms such as headaches or body aches.
While the smallest children refuse to go to school, are clingy, agitated, sad and cries too often, the oldest adults are more likely to distance themselves from society and spend a lot of alone time. They are also more prone to bodily symptoms of depression.
Who is at risk of developing Depression?
Depression is most of the time a result of a mix of different causes than a single factor. In other words, if you just lost a loved one, got kicked out of your job and also got diagnosed with a serious disease such as cancer, the stress may have you drinking and getting high to escape the pain, which ultimately leads to being distant from family and friends. The combination of these elements could lead to depression.
Below are a few seasons that can make an individual vulnerable and an easy target for depression.
Living a lonely life
Social support and having a circle one can go to or at least talk to on a daily basis is essential. Loneliness can make one feel isolated and will have them bottle up everything with nobody to share them with. This can eventually lead to depression. However, those who are going through are more likely to spend time on their own and withdraw from the rest of the world. Thus, if one does get depressive symptoms due to loneliness, others can hardly know because they are going to stick to being lonely.
The scary side to being in a committed relationship is the fact that a big and important portion of your mental health can depend on your partner’s behaviour and conduct. Thus, if a relationship starts to fall apart, if one side starts pulling back, cheats or show indifference and stop caring, it can take a toll on the person who is still willing to commit. They can start feeling unwanted, unworthy, angry at the world, and are likely to focus on drugs and alcohol. Usually, they put in the extra work to make the other stay, and are likely to end up alone, which will make things worse. Also, abusive, troublesome and mentally and physically draining relationships also cause depression. When one side of the commitment is going through abuse by the other, there is no happiness but rage, sadness, and heavy negative feelings.
Going through a stressful time in life
When life hits you with stressful situations, again and again, the negative feelings can overwhelm you to the point you give up. If an individual is going through either one or more stressful situations, he or she can get depressive symptoms unless they take care of their mentality with more attention.
When one has had a family history of this issue, they are more likely to have depression genes, which can easily make them a victim of depression. Thus, if one has had such a family history, they need to be extra careful with their mental health to make sure they do not succumb to depression. In other words, making good lifestyle choices, being mentally and physically healthy and having hobbies that relax them can eliminate the problem before it has a chance to happen.
If one tends to worry too much, has anxiety, is very sensitive etc. they can be more prone to depression than the others. Due to these traits, they are more likely to be vulnerable to incidents, no matter how small or insignificant they are.
Can depression be treated?
Is depression treatable? Yes. Can depression be cured? That part mostly depends on those who are depressed and if they are willing to put in the work or not.
Medication, counselling, psychotherapy and brain stimulation therapy can significantly reduce depressive symptoms in people. However, all of these methods include at least 70% that need the effort of the person who wants to not be a victim of depression. If that work is not put forth, none of these methods can help to their full potential.
Tips to avoid depression
Follow these basic steps to make sure that your mentality never hits the rock bottom.
- As soon as you notice depressive symptoms, reach out for help. The faster you get help, the easier it is to treat it.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. Eat right, get good sleep and sleep enough. Engage in exercise, and be physically healthy.
- It is impossible to avoid stress. However, try your best so you can avoid at least a few scenarios.
- Practice yoga and other mindfulness-based therapy and exercises. Like mentioned before, we must deal with stress. However, by maintaining a calm and soothing mind, you can come out of stressful situations without being very affected.
- Adopt a few healthy hobbies and maybe a puppy! Pets have proven to be very effective stress controllers.
- Do what you love. Be it painting, singing, dancing, or even working out or going for a run. Don’t let your life get dull and routinely. Change and mix up a few things here and there so every day is exciting.
- Take it slow on the alcohol and drugs. Remember, if you are looking to avoid depression, none of these substances will help. If you feel like you are already addicted, work on taking things down a little. You will not be able to stop overnight. However, if you keep working on controlling it, you will be able to stop before it is too late.
- Maintain a close and healthy circle. Keep in touch with your family. Do not let yourself get lonely and settle into isolation. Visit a friend, go for a night out and keep your life interesting.
- If medication and other therapy are prescribed, make sure you attend those without failure. By keeping up with those you will be free of depression before you know it.
- Maintain a positive attitude towards life. While you work out, think of how good you will look because of it. While you eat healthy food, tell yourself that your body is healthy and unlikely to be sick anytime soon. Have meaning and purpose to everything you do so you won’t get tired of doing them.
- Celebrate. Love yourself and take pride in your achievements. be happy for others as well. Good vibes and good moods take you very far from being depressed.
How can we help?
We at Epsychiatry are armed with professional and trained clinicians who are looking forward to helping you with your mental health. If you have forgotten how to be happy and the simple joys of life, we have methods and techniques that will remind you and help you become yourself again.