Depression is serious, needs attention and has treatment!

Sadness, like joy, is part of our daily lives. Who has never been through a day of sadness, where everything seemed gray and hopeless? These moments are normal in the life of every human being and are quickly overcome. But what happens if these periods of melancholy last for days, months and even years? People living with prolonged sadness suffer from depression, a disease that affects more people each year. Today I will talk a little about this disease, the causes, symptoms and most importantly, how it can be treated.

Depression is one of the most common and most serious mental health problems today. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression will become, in 2020, the second leading cause of disability in the world, behind only ischemic heart diseases (heart attacks, heart failure and stroke). In 2000 it occupied the fourth place. Around the world, the health sectors are struggling to reduce the rates of this disease, which is increasing more and more.

In today’s text we will address:

  • What is depression?
  • Sadness x depression
  • Causes
  • Depression and women
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment 
  • Prevention
  • Seek help

What is depression?

Depression is a very common chronic psychiatric illness that is characterized by profound sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, as well as feelings of guilt or worthlessness, sleep or disturbed appetite, tiredness and lack of concentration. It can impair the patient’s performance at work and leave him unable to cope with everyday life. In its most severe form, it can lead to suicide.

Sadness x depression

The term depression is often used as a synonym for sadness, however, they are two different things. In fact, sadness is often a symptom of depression, but that alone is not enough for the diagnosis. Sadness is a normal and expected reaction to many situations, such as the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, loss of job … It is normal to spend a few days or weeks after sad loss situations. This is not considered a major depressive disorder.

In the case of depression, the picture of sadness is much greater than normal. It interferes with daily activities, reducing the ability to take care of oneself, preventing relationships, impairing professional duties. If you lose a family member and feel sad for weeks, this is normal.

But if this sadness is so intense that weeks after the loss, you cannot return to your basic life issues, such as work, maintaining personal or domestic hygiene, this can be a sign of depression.

Causes

As with many psychiatric disorders, there is no single, specific cause that causes depression. It is a multifactorial disease, that is, several aspects can influence its appearance.

Among the causes, the following factors stand out: genetic (heredity), biochemical (neurotransmitters in the brain) and psychological (conceptions and ideas of each person).

  • Some types of depression are seen in several generations of a family, but it can appear in someone without a family history of the disease. In addition, some childhood or adulthood traumas can be decisive in the onset of depression in the short or long term.
  • There are stressful events that a person can experience and trigger depression such as the death of a close relative, family breakdown, diagnosis of an incurable disease, stress at work and even social isolation.
  • Alcohol and other drugs can influence the onset of depression, as well as systemic diseases.

Depression and women

Women are more likely to experience depression compared to men. Some studies show that one in five women suffers from this disease, while the proportion of men is one in ten. One of the causes is related to the influence of female hormones that change throughout life and appear at puberty, days before menstrual periods, postpartum and  menopause.

Symptoms

Depressive disorder is a condition that can manifest itself in several ways. The most common form is called major depressive disorder, also known as depression. Another fairly common one is chronic depression, which is called dysthymia. Other types of depression that can occur are bipolar disorder, seasonal depression, reactive depression, atypical depression, postpartum depression and minor depression.

Major depression usually has at least five of the nine symptoms listed below:

  1. Sadness during most of the day, especially in the morning.
  2. Loss of interest in daily activities.
  3. Significant changes in appetite and / or weight (may increase or decrease).
  4. Insomnia or excessive sleep.
  5. Restlessness or lethargy.
  6. Persistent fatigue or loss of energy.
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  8. Inability to concentrate and indecision.
  9. Recurring thoughts of death or suicide.

To be considered a major depressive disorder criterion, the symptoms listed must be daily and must be present for more than 2 consecutive weeks.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of depression is made preferably by a psychiatrist and is based on the symptoms, duration and overall effects they cause in the patient’s life. There is currently no laboratory or imaging test to identify depression, although some blood tests can be done to rule out other illnesses with similar symptoms, such as hypothyroidism, for example.

Treatment

The initial treatment for depression should include antidepressant medication and psychotherapy, which can be done with a psychiatrist or psychologist. Studies show that combined treatment (drugs + psychotherapy) is more effective than treatment with only one of the two options. Psychotherapy and antidepressant medications are equally effective, but psychotherapy is more relevant in the long run, as it helps the patient to develop new ways of dealing with symptoms and a greater ability to rationalize and adapt to life’s problems.

You should always keep in mind that it can take about a month for antidepressant drugs to start working in the body. In addition, they should be taken according to medical advice, even after the period of depression, thus avoiding possible relapses. In addition, the abandonment of the medication must be progressive, in order to avoid any problematic symptoms in the person.

Like any medication, antidepressants have some side effects. They vary from person to person, but can be reduced if medical recommendations are followed correctly.

Prevention

There are no specific guidelines for preventing or preventing depression, but there are things you can do to make your life happier and healthier, so it will be more difficult to fall into depression. Here are some tips:

  1. Exercise – When we do physical activity, the level of endorphins in our body increases. These hormones allow you to feel joy, well-being and act against the sensation of pain.
  2. Find alternative forms of stress management – There are many ways to deal with stress and balance. The most common are meditation, yoga and physical exercises.
  3. Express emotions – In life, it is essential to have friends and family that you can trust when you need to talk about your problems or express a concern.
  4. Look for a group or activity – Keeping busy and concentrating your energy on some activity is essential to avoid being overwhelmed by depression and anxiety.
  5. Write- To lift your spirits, there is nothing better than expressing feelings and emotions. If you are suspicious and there is no one around you who you can trust to tell you what ails you, grab a notebook or diary and start writing. It is a good way to release negative thoughts.
  6. Seek spiritual tranquility – A method to combat depression and anxiety is to spend time in contact with nature, meditate, pray or take refuge in a religious environment. These activities allow you to connect with something specific and channel your problems or pains to find comfort and tranquility.
  7. Find out what makes you happy – What motivates you daily to reach your goals? What makes you feel good and relaxed? This is what you should ask yourself, especially when you start to feel depressed or anxious. If you haven’t figured it out yet, try different activities.
  8. Help others – Signing up for voluntary causes is a good way to channel your feelings into something positive, in addition to increasing your self-esteem. This is because this type of activity helps to understand and learn new values. Helping others brings a sense of physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.
  9. Learn to spend time with yourself – When you experience anxiety or depression it is essential that you focus on doing something that makes you feel better. Watch a movie or series, walk your pet, eat something you like or read a book.
  10. Adopt a mascot – In the beginning it may be extra work, but adopting a pet can keep you company and you will end up focusing your attention on it. Animals always provide unconditional love and can be useful in times of depression.
  11. Try to maintain a good mood – It is essential that you always maintain a good mood because this action is therapeutic. Laughing makes your spirits lift and gives you a simpler perspective on life, without overwhelming you with problems or unpleasant situations.

Seek help

When we are depressed, we feel drained, helpless and hopeless, and doing something to help ourselves seems to be very difficult. Do not give in, seek the help of a professional. You need to realize that these feelings are part of the depression and do not reflect real circumstances. As treatment progresses, negative thoughts will subside and you will be happy again.

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