9-15 October 2015 #779

The silent scream

About 350 million people in the world are affected by depression, and most will never seek treatment
Anjana Rajbhandary

We all feel sad once in a while, and usually these feelings fade within a few hours or days.  However, feeling down can sometimes be more than just a passing phase. Depression inhibits the ability to function within daily life, and causes grief to your loved ones as well.  Treatment should be sought for this common, but serious illness.

World Health Organization estimates that about 350 million people in the world are affected by depression. Depression can cause isolation and keep you from getting help. But it does not have to rule your life. With proper treatment and support, you can effectively treat depression, and regain control of your life.

Major depression is extremely debilitating. The ability to work, concentrate, sleep, and simply enjoy life is hindered. While you may only experience major depression once in your life, it is typically marked by multiple occurrences.

Persistent Depressive Disorder is characterised by consistent feelings of sadness and worthlessness for two years or more.  Bouts of major depression are intermittent with periods where it is less severe.

Disruptive Mood Regulation Disorder is indicated by a loss of temper multiple times a week accompanied with an irritable and angry mood.

Certain other forms of depression occur in specific circumstances.  

Psychotic Depression is severe depression with some form of psychosis, including delusions and hallucinations. Postpartum Depression happens to some women after giving birth due to hormonal and physical changes, and responsibility of taking care of a new baby. It is more severe than regular ‘baby blues’.

Another type, Seasonal Affective Disorder, occurs when a person feels depression in the winter months due to lack of natural sunlight.

Depression is most likely caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors. If someone in the family has depression, you may be more susceptible.  It is also possible to have depression if it doesn’t run in the family at all.

Circumstances such as the loss of a loved one, compromised financial security, a difficult relationship, or other emotional traumas may cause depression.

There is a wide range of signs and symptoms experienced by individuals with depression, and it differs from one person to another. Frequency and length of symptoms may vary depending on the individual.

Common signs and symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, hopelessness, guilt, irritability, restlessness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, headaches, digestive problems, overeating or loss of appetite, and thoughts or attempts of suicide.

The effects of depression may be different from one individual to another. Not everyone diagnosed with depression will feel the same effects.  Some more common effects may include physical health problems, weakened immune system, self-harm as a way to cope, suicidal ideations or attempts, loss of self-confidence, increase in high-risk behavior, substance abuse, learned helplessness, loss of social network, end of relationships, and work or school-related problems to name a few. Depression also affects the loved ones of the individual in various ways, such as increase in stress, change in financial responsibility due to job loss, and, end or loss of relationships among others.

Depression can be managed. The most common treatment for depression is a combination of medication (antidepressants) and psychotherapy. Inpatient treatment provides patients with the necessary time and space to healthily manage their depressive disorder. With the right treatment, support of loved ones, and a healthier lifestyle, it is possible to heal from the emotional, psychological and physical effects of depression.

October 10 is World Mental Health Day.

Read also:

The depression battle, Buddha Basnyat

End pain, not lives, Anjana Rajbhandary

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