Feeling sad isn’t always a bad thing, but the overwhelming feeling of depression can make you feel like your world is ending. Depression is a mood disorder, which is characterized by emotional sadness, behavioral modifications such as mood swings and an occurrence of random negative thoughts.
If you feel like you’re experiencing the blues on a consistent basis, don’t be discouraged; you’re not alone. Depression is becoming a common condition with more than 3 million people dealing with this mental condition every year.
Depression often results in a feeling of hopelessness. Various factors have been known to cause depressive disorders, including life events such as tragedy, death in the family, persistent disease, menopause or physiological factors.
Whatever the case may be, depression often results in complete isolation of an individual, interferes with their normal functioning, decreases performance and alters the life-work balance of the individual.
Types of Depression
Depression can often become debilitating, but figuring out which form of depression an individual has might serve as a basis to help cure the condition. The types of depression include:
- Major Depression: When you have recurring episodes of depression
- Persistent Depressive Disorder: When depression lasts for more than two years
- Bipolar Disorder: Involves cycles of depression alternating with extreme highs or mania
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: When your mood is affected by the seasons or if you’re more likely to be depressed during the winter
- Postpartum Depression: Occurs in mothers after childbirth
- Psychotic Depression: When major depression or bipolar disorder is accompanied by hallucinations, paranoia or delusions
Causes of Depression
Various factors have been known to cause depression.
Various neurological disorders, physiological conditions and fatal diseases have been indicated in the development of depression.
2. Life Events
This is one of the major causes of depression as life can be hard at times, full of traumas and tragedy. While some people are able to cope with the events, others fall into the void of deep shock or major depressive disorder. The events may be physical abuse, sexual exploitation, death, loss of a relationship, non-requited love and bereavement.
3. Drugs and Medications
Various drugs and medications are known to cause depressive symptoms in a majority of the patients. Treatment of hepatitis with interferon is one such example.
Symptoms of Depression
Symptoms vary from person-to-person, however, some of the most common symptoms associated with depression are:
- Persistent sadness and lack of interest in daily activities, including work, leisure and alone time
- Irritability and short-tempered behavior
- Lack of hope and increased pessimism
- Fatigue and loss of energy for activities
- Decreased affection toward peers, family, friends and spouse
- Altered eating habits, leading to either over-eating or under-eating
- Cramps, joint pain, stomach disturbances and constipation (rare)
- Lack of sleep (insomnia) and other sleep-related disorders
- Increased thoughts of suicide or suicidal attempts
- Self-harming behavior
- Increased aggressiveness
While some of the symptoms are manageable with drugs and therapies, other symptoms such as thoughts of suicide or aggressiveness should be met with utmost care and expert therapies. Patients should be constantly monitored for their actions and behavior. Early diagnosis and therapy/treatment are most effective in both severe and mild cases.
How to Treat Depression
Various clinical medications and physiological therapies have been indicated. However, it is pivotal to identify the cause and symptoms prior to initiating any treatment regimen.
Drugs for Depression
Antidepressants fall into two categories, which include: tricyclic antidepressants and atypical antidepressants. While the former function as sedatives (nortriptyline and imipramine), the latter are found to be associated with increasing the activity of the brain, triggering production of mood-altering hormones. Some of the atypical antidepressants include mirtazapine, vilazodone and trazodone.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
Unlike antidepressants that cause severe adverse effects on mental health and libido, these SSRIs and SNRIs are associated with fewer side effects. They include:
- Venlafaxine (SNRIs)
- Paroxetine (SSRIs)
Although not convenient, the behavioral and physical modifications play a critical role in elevating your mood, decreasing the feeling of loneliness, thoughts of suicide and inculcate new direction in life. Various strategies are:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Abstaining from drugs, smoking and alcohol
- Exercise and physical activities
- Interaction with peers, family and friends
Depression or major depressive disorder not only affects the individual but also causes coping problems for the immediate family, colleagues and friends. Additionally, the disorder causes long-term complications if left unattended. Some of the common complications are:
- Obesity and eating disorders
- Coronary heart disease and various other vascular disorders
- Anxiety, phobia or complete isolation from human interaction
- Drug addiction and alcoholism
Natural Remedies for Relieving Depression
Various natural remedies and therapies, other than the conventional health treatment strategies, have been indicated in depression. These include:
Herbal Treatment: Two supplements, SAMe and 5-HTP, are used in treating depressive symptoms. These supplements are safe and do not cause any adverse events.
Hypnosis: This is usually rare and is practiced in various developing countries.
Massage Therapy and Meditation: It can promote relaxation and feeling of enlightenment.
What Foods Should You Eat When Dealing with Depression?
Research has shown a shocking connection between depression and the food that we eat. Certain foods can trigger depression while others may help elevate your overall mood. Listed below are foods that can help prevent future headaches and keep depression away:
Final Words for Those Struggling with Depression
While some can handle the struggles of everyday life, some fall victim to the seemingly never-ending cycle of sorrow. Depression is a major mood disorder, which is characterized by a loss of hope, a feeling of guilt or loneliness and persistent sadness. Early diagnosis and treatment are effective in managing the symptoms and decreasing suicidal attempts.
Family and community support are imperative during this time. A growing number of people have found that alternative remedies such as yoga and meditation are extremely effective when coupled with conventional medicine and can help manage and even cure this mental condition. Make sure you speak with your doctor to ensure these alternative remedies are beneficial for you.
How many people are depressed in the US?
According to healthline.com, 16 million people in the U.S. suffer from depression or experience at least one major depressive episode during their life.
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