One in every ten people suffers from depression within a year. Feeling sad or down is nothing compared to depression. Being unhappy is a typical feeling which everyone feels every once in a while. But for those with depression, they feel bouts of anxiety, negativity, hopelessness and helplessness which will take a long time before going away. This condition can happen to anyone, at any age. Patients who were diagnosed with depression will experience it only once but other patients will suffer from chronic depression. Recovery period ranges from six months to one year or more. Dealing with depression is very hard for the patient’s family and friends.
Symptoms of depression
If the person should experience at least four of the symptoms listed below, every day, continuous for two weeks, then he should seek help from a doctor:
- Lethargy or tiredness
- Feeling sad for a long time
- Low self-esteem loss of confidence
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Does not enjoy the things that he once found interesting or pleasurable
- Avoids other people even family and friends
- Feelings of hopelessnessand helplessness
- Have severe sleeping problems
- Feels guilt and sometimes worthlessness
- Finds it difficult to function at work or school
- Lack of appetite
- Have sexual problems or decreased sex drive
- Physical pains
- Thinks about suicide or death
- Self-mutilation or harm
Causes of depression
This condition can happen without warning or as a result of traumatic childhood experiences, physical illness, loss of a loved one, unemployment or family problems which alters the otherwise normal life of the person. Chronic illnesses which have been linked to depression are cancer, back pain, pituitary damage which follows head injuries, and heart diseases.
Often, there are no apparent reasons for having depression so it is very important that the person should be aware of what had triggered his depression.
Types of depression
Several types of depression are included in the list below:
The negative feelings are limited to affect your life like the person may have difficulty concentrating in his work or at school or he may have a hard time motivating himself to go about his normal routine every day. It can also cause some form of severe depression but this can be treated almost immediately.
This is a condition which affects the person’s ability to cope up with his daily life. He may have problems eating, sleeping or in other daily activities. Some patients will experience depression just once in his life but some people will have chronic depression throughout their lifetime. Being able to recognize the symptoms of depression can be helpful in preventing the disorder from becoming severe.
Bipolar disorder or manic depression
The person will have erratic mood swings ranging from depression to mania. They may feel down, hopeless and suicidal at one time, then they become hyperactive, elated or euphoric the next. The extreme range of mood swings makes it hard for the person to have a stabilized state of mind. During severe bouts of bipolar disorder, the person may become delusional and experience hallucinations. They will have difficulty recognizing reality from not. This condition is a long-term disorder.
New mothers experience the ‘baby blues’ wherein they may feel anxious, depressed or down for no apparent reason. These negative feelings usually last for a couple of days to weeks. On the other hand, post-natal depression is a more intense form of depression than the ‘baby blues’. The new mothers may feel inadequate and unable to cope with the caring of the new born. They have trouble sleeping, have panic attacks and become too fearful of dying. New mothers who have been diagnosed with this condition should not be left alone with the new born because she poses danger to herself and to the child. It affects one out of ten new mothers after two to three weeks after giving birth.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
This kind of depression is related to the period where winter starts until spring, particularly during the season where there are longer days than nights. The mild form of this condition is called the ‘winter blues’. SAD makes the patient feel anxious, depressed and stressed out. It affects the person’s mood, as well as their eating and sleeping patterns.
Take control of your depression
Being depressed will make the patient feel hopeless and helpless. To be in control of your thoughts will have a positive effect on your psyche. Consult your doctor to talk things through could help but the patient could also do activities like exercise or taking new forms of hobbies to relax himself. Joining support groups could also help. If the patient is not comfortable talking to his doctor alone, he could take someone who knows him well along during the therapy. There are a lot of treatment options available for the patient which are dependent on his condition, his coping capacity and his ability to manage his symptoms.
How the patient sees himself
The way the patient sees himself affects his thoughts and his frame of mind. It is very common for patients to feel guilt or worthlessness during this period but trying to be aware of these negative feelings can help you prevent them. Think positive thoughts and see yourself from a different perspective instead of just wallowing in your depression. Consult your doctor should this be the course of action you want to take.
When a person is depressed, he will have trouble socializing with other people. Being alone can make matters worse so it important to stay in touch with family and friends. Being around people who care about you will help decreased the feeling of being isolated. Apart from your family and friends, you could also look for support groups in your local community. Support groups are made up of people who have the same troubles as you. They will share their thoughts and advice you what to do to cope up.
Concerns about money, work, or legal situations
The patient should not be made to feel overwhelmed by his responsibilities or work because he should feel in-control of his surroundings to give him confidence. Take time off for yourself every once in a while r spend time with your family and friends. This takes off stress from the patient and makes him feel loved and secured. Consult a doctor to help you cope up with these feelings. Medical professionals may be able to help you review your commitments or work schedules so that it will not get affected by your depression. The local social services department and the Citizens Advice Bureau can advice you about your benefits if you are unemployed because of depression. But it is highly advised that the patient should keep a job whenever possible to keep your mind and body busy with other things. Having a job could lead you to socializing with more people and having a sense of achievement when you have accomplished your task.
Having problems with your family or friends can be devastating. This could affect how you feel and how you view the world. If your depression is causing strain in your personal relationships or if your relationship is causing you to be depressed; you should consider calling Relateat 0845 456 1310. This is a marriage guidance group but it also helps singles who are in need of advice. Aside from calling Relate, the patient could also discuss this with his doctor or his close friends.
Exercise can do wonders to uplift a person’s mood. It can distract the patient’s mind from depression and can even stimulate the brain to release endorphins, which are chemicals that make a person feel happy and relaxed. If the patient has been diagnosed with mild depression, his doctor would normally recommend doing regular exercises. The aim is to do a 50 minute exercise scheme about three to five times in one week. You could change the scheme according to your needs and to fit your daily routine. The patient can also suggest things about the exercise to his doctor if he thinks that it could help.
The food that a person eats could directly affect his moods and his predisposition to depression. But there is not enough evidence to prove this is true. Scientists say that eating foods that are rich in essential fatty acids, normally found in fish oils, could relieve the symptoms of depression. Salmon is a good source of fish oil rich with fatty acids. Whether proven true or not, eating the right diet could give the person enough energy to fight off depression and do exercise.
Avoid excess alcohol and drugs
Alcohol depresses the brain and if the person drinks high amounts of alcohol, his brain’s activities would slow down and lead him to be depressed. If the person is suffering from depression, he should refrain from drinking alcohol as much as possible because it would only make him feel worse. To break the habit of drinking for temporary relief from your depression can become a vicious cycle so avoid it. Recreational drugs are to be avoided as well.
Depressed people will also experience anxiety. Managing your anxiety could help you prevent depression from sinking in. Discover the things that would make you anxious and try your best to avoid it or to remedy it in some way. You could do regular exercise and eat a proper diet to stave and control anxiety away. Massage and going yoga practices can help the person feel relaxed especially if the person has mild depression.
St John’s Wort has been linked to improve the conditions of patients with mild depression. But this drug is known to have interactions with other drugs so consult your doctor before trying it.
Consulting your doctor is the first thing that the patient should do under normal circumstances. The doctor would ask the patient some questions and from there assess the severity of depression and its effect on the patient’s physical and mental activities.
The first meeting with the doctor may be hard for the patient so it might help if he wrote down what he has experienced so far with the condition. Some patients find it helpful if they come to the meeting along with a close family member or a friend. The doctor and the patient should reach a consensus about their approach for the treatment.
Be open to the doctor and tell him what you have been feeling and the symptoms that you think has affected you the most. Your doctor might recommend you to see a specialist like a mental health nurse, a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
Medication is not recommended for those with mild depression because the risks outweigh the benefits. The doctor would give the patient a list of how to treat mild depression and recommend that the patient wait until the depression goes away, if it will. Surgery may be an option which the doctor could recommend.
Talk therapies that use cognitive behavioural principles work best for depression. But this therapy may not be available for some areas so this is a limitation of the treatment. If you want to proceed with the talk therapy, you should wait and see authorities in the NHS. You may also opt to pay if you want to see a private doctor about your condition.
Severe depression is treated with prescribed anti-depressants by the doctor. Anti-depressants work well but they have nasty side effects. Taking a combination of treatment like talk therapy and taking in anti-depressants is a very effective approach in treating severe depression.
Taking in medication is not the first choice especially if the patient only has mild depression. A number of prescribed medicines are readily available and it works well depending on the severity and type of depression that the patient has.
It takes a couple of weeks before the effects of the drugs could be seen. If the drug does not relieve the symptoms, it is wise to consult your doctor first before proceeding to shift to a new drug. The doctor would recommend that you wait a couple of weeks before prescribing another drug. The patient should take the medicine in the recommended period the doctor has advised him or else relapse could occur. For the treatment to become really effective, the patient should wait from six to nine months of continuous treatment to see results. Shifting to a new drug or treatment should be done gradually or it may lead to harmful effects.
A number of anti-depressants are available on the market. Some drugs are made for specific types of symptoms while some have a general effect on the condition. There are new and old drugs so better consult your doctor if you want to take anti-depressants.
About talk therapies
Talk therapies explore the underlying reasons of your depression. This helps by letting the patient work out the causes of the depression and learning new ways to deal with it effectively. A lot of studies have indicated that talk therapies do work for a large number of patients. But there is a waiting list for patients who want to try talk therapy in the NHS.
This is a treatment where it lets the patients talk about their feelings and emotions or the possible reasons why they are depressed. The counsellor provides advice on how the problems could be solved.
Cognitive behavioural therapy analyzes the underlying causes of depression and challenges the patient to change his attitude on how he perceives himself and his surroundings. Having a sound mind and outlook in life helps to keep depression at bay.
This is a kind of intensive and frequent therapy that delves into the patient’s past experiences that may be considered the reason why depression has set in. Interpersonal therapy concentrates on how he patient relates and behaves towards other people. These kinds of therapies help the patient have a much better self-image and to communicate well with others.
Other talk therapies available to treat depression are the following:
- group therapy
- family therapy
- art therapy