Depression is a mental state that is characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity. Personal and physiological factors can cause depression, making you feel sad and down. Some of such factors can be failure to secure your dream job, a breakup in your relationship, loss of a loved one, and sickness, etc. Most feelings of sadness are always short-lived, but depression is much more than just a feeling of sadness. It can be suicidal at times.
Depression is a medical condition that is characterized by feelings of hopelessness, sadness, rejections, grief, and failure – and it may be as short-lived as it may be long-lasting. This condition is often associated with both physical and mental changes. Depression can have very negative effects on several aspects of your life: personal, family, professional, and social life. According to statistics, one out of five women experiences depression, and one in ten men experiences depression at some points in life within the United States; and depression occurs more in adults than in children.
Types of Depression
Different types of depression exist; and the method of diagnosis adopted is determined by the nature as well as the intensity of the symptoms associated with the depression. Some major types of depression include:
- Clinical depression: This may be the most serious type of depression known today. This is because of the intensity of the symptoms that come with it. The symptoms and severity can differ from individual to individual. This type of depression does not really inspire suicidal thoughts, but it affects various aspects of the patient’s life like the energy levels, eating habits, and sleep pattern.
- Dysthymia: This refers to all moderate depression cases that last up to two years, or longer. The symptoms of dysthymia are not as severe as what is obtainable in clinical depression cases, though people with this type of depression can develop clinical depression in the course of treatment.
- Manic depression: This is also known as bipolar disorder. It includes high and low mood swings, and several other very significant symptoms that are not associated with other types of depression.
- Other types: Other less common types of depression include seasonal affective disorder, depression with psychosis, and postpartum depression.
Causes of Depression
- Childbirth: Postpartum depression is known to start a few weeks after childbirth. Do not confuse this with baby blues that occur between 24 and 72 hours after childbirth: this is a temporary subtype of depression caused by hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and after childbirth.
- Chronic medical conditions: Depression can come as a result of some very chronic health conditions that affect the individual’s quality of life and general well-being.
- Family history and beliefs: Depression can run in some families, which makes its occurrence more likely in some individuals. Negative thoughts and beliefs can equally trigger depression issues.
- Imbalance of brain chemicals: Some chemicals are saddled with the responsibility of sending messages in the brain. These chemicals are also helpful in the regulation of our thinking, beliefs and emotions. An imbalance in their levels can cause resultant depression.
- Other causes: Some other causes of depression include use of certain drugs. Excessive intake of alcohol or opium can cause both short-term and long-term depression.
Symptoms and Complications of Depression
Some major symptoms of depression include:
- Prolonged sadness
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Loss of energy
- Insomnia or chronic oversleeping
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Loss of concentration
- Recurring suicidal thoughts
- Breaking into tears easily
- Avoiding loved ones
- Body pains and aches
Diagnosing depression involves your doctor asking you relevant questions about the symptoms you experience mostly and their severity when they occur. Medical tests will be performed to make sure no underlying medical causes of those symptoms exist in your body.
Treatment and Prevention of Depression
- Medical examination: Your doctor will help you develop a treatment plan based on the type of depression you have and the symptoms associated with it. You may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist for treatment.
- Anti-depressants and psychotherapy: Most depressions are known to respond to a combination of anti-depressants and psychotherapy treatments.
- Serotonin reuptake inhibitors: Certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine, citalopram, paroxetine, and escitalopram are quite effective for treating depression.
- Herbal remedies: According to studies, certain herbs like St. John’s Worth can be effective for treating minor cases of depression.