Depression:Symptoms, Causes and Treatment.

Depression: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment.

 

Depression is a very common condition which affects roughly more than one in ten people at any one time. Any of us, irrespective of age, gender or background can become depressed at any point in our life. Most people are able to overcome depression. With help, and early recognition, ongoing support, positive outcome are usually obtainable, especially in mild to moderate depression

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Do you feel very tired, helpless, and hopeless? Are you sad most of the time and take no pleasure in your family, friends, or hobbies? Are you having trouble working, sleeping, eating, and functioning? Have you felt this way for a long time? If so, you may have depression.

What is Depression?

Everyone feels sad sometimes, but these feelings usually pass after a few days. When you have depression, you have trouble with daily life for weeks without end.Depression is a mental health condition which affects a person’s thinking, energy, feelings, perception and behaviour. It can vary from mild to severe and can prove disabling in some cases, impacting on the individual’s family and work life. It is possible to minimise the impact of depression by accessing information and support, and by finding ways or strategies to manage the condition.

 

What should I look for?

Depression has many symptoms. If you experience five or more of these symptoms, lasting for a period of two weeks or more, you should speak to a mental health professionals. These symptoms are:

• Feeling sad, anxious or bored • Low energy, feeling tired or fatigued • Under- or over-sleeping, or waking frequently during the night • Poor concentration, thinking slowed down • Loss of interest in hobbies, family or social life • Low self-esteem and feelings of guilt

• Aches and pains with no physical basis, e.g. chest pain/headache/stomach pain associated with anxiety or stress • Loss of interest in living, thinking about death, suicidal thoughts

Difficulty coping with normal day- to- day life

 

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What are the causes?

Depression has a number of possible causes. In general, someone has to be ‘vulnerable’ to suffer from depression. For some people, it comes about as a result of a traumatic life event such as bereavement, failed marriage, relationship breakdown, loss of job, financial difficulties or bullying etc. In other situations, the person may have an inherent genetic tendency towards depression, and such genetic factors can be key in the case of bipolar disorder. This mood disorder involves not just periods of depression, but also periods of elation, where the person’s mood is significantly higher than normal. During these periods, he or she may have excessive energy with little need for sleep, may have grandiose ideas and may engage in risk-taking behaviour.

What should I do if I think depression is a factor for me or a loved one?

The most important thing to do is speak to a doctor or mental health professional in order to get a correct diagnosis. There are a number of treatments for depression, depending on the cause and severity of symptoms and a professional is best placed to decide which, if any, treatment is most appropriate. Talking through your concerns with someone who understands your problems (an empathic listener) can be quite useful. ‘Bottling up’ things in your mind and withdrawing to yourself, is not a good way of dealing with depression.

Categories of Depression

Mild Depression

Short periods of unhappiness is not usual with most people, especially, following a period of trauma or loss. However, when unhappiness is prolonged, it can lead to mild depression. The person typically experiences tiredness, some early morning wakening, indecision, impaired concentration and loss of confidence. It is important to note here that the person will not necessarily feel depressed.

Moderate depression

Most of the symptoms of depression listed above are present. The person may feel very down, extremely fatigued, and has marked sleep disturbance and appears to others to be depressed.

Severe Depression (Major Depression)

In addition to the symptoms of moderate depression, the person’s reasoning and judgement is significantly impaired in a severe depression . They may have an extremely negative and

 

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pessimistic view of their own self-worth and future prospects. They may believe that life is not worth living. Strong suicidal thoughts ,or intent, or plans to kill self may also be present.

Someone suffering from severe depressive episode may have delusions or false beliefs that they are evil, wicked, bankrupt or terminally ill, even when there are no realistic evidence for this. They may suffer from hallucinations such as hearing strange voices or having disturbed perception with similar themes. When delusions or hallucinations are evident, the depression is referred to as a psychotic depression. Such psychotic depressions cab be pathological extension of the negative thinking that is part of a mild or moderate depression.

Bipolar Affective Disorder (Manic-Depressive Disorder)

Bipolar disorder involves both depressive periods and their opposite, which are known as elations or manic periods. Symptoms of the depressed phase are the same as those of Unipolar depression described above:

• Feeling sad, anxious or bored • Low energy, feeling tired or fatigued • Under- or over-sleeping, or waking frequently during the night • Poor concentration, thinking slowed down • Loss of interest in hobbies, family or social life • Low self-esteem and feelings of guilt • Aches and pains with no physical basis, e.g. chest/head/tummy pain associated with anxiety or stress • Loss of interest in living, thinking about death, suicidal thoughts.

If five or more of the symptoms above are present for a period of two weeks or more, it is most likely a depressive episode and you should seek help from mental health expert.

Symptoms of Mania ( Elation mood ) are:

• Feeling elated, enthusiastic, over –confident, excited, angry, irritable etc • Increased energy, over-talkative or over-active, increase drive and motivation etc • Reduced need for sleep and marked difficulty in getting off to sleep • Racing thoughts, ‘pressure in the head’, indecision, jumping from one topic to another, poor concentration, poor judgement • Increased interest in pleasurable activities, new adventures, sex, alcohol, experimenting on street drugs, religion, music or art etc

 

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• Excessive and unrealistic belief in one’s ability, or having grandiose plans • Being unaware of the physical symptoms of illness such as asthma, having muscle tension at the back of the head or round the shoulders • Taking reckless physical risks and if thwarted, gets angry , argumentative. Could become distressed and suicidal in thoughts and feelings.

If five or more of these symptoms are present for more than two weeks, it may be a manic episode, and it is advisable to seek help from mental health professionals.

Treatment Options

In any case where depression is suspected, it is important that the individual talk to a qualified health care professional about their symptoms in order to get a correct diagnosis. There is usually the need to rule out any physical cause, such as hypothyroidism, or any chronic physical problems, which may cause symptoms similar to those seen in depression

There are a number of treatment options for depression and other types of mood disorder. The best and most appropriate treatment option depends on the individual case, the likely cause of depression and the severity of symptoms. Treatments usually come under different headings:

—Medication

— Psycho-social intervention—psychotherapies, solving social issues eg accommodation, finance, broadening the scope of daily activities which should include mild to moderate exercises , focusing the mind on positive things etc

—-Physical therapy eg ECT

In many cases, a combination of the above might be the most appropriate treatment plan for that individual.

Medications

called antidepressants are useful in treatment of depression. They can take several weeks to work. Now adays, some newer drugs use to treat psychosis has been observed to have antidepressant effects. examples are Quetiapine, olanzepine and Aripiprazole. info@abasihealthfoundation.org benbassey@hotmail.com Page 5

Antidepressants can have side effects including:

 

Headache, tension

 

Nausea—feeling sick or vomiting

 

Difficulty sleeping or nervousness

 

Agitation or restlessness

 

Sexual problems or difficulty


Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy has been of great help in the treatment of depression. Psychotherapy helps by teaching new ways of thinking and behaving, and changing habits that may be contributing to the depression. Therapy can help you understand and work through difficult relationships or situations that may be causing your depression or making it worse.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

For severe depression that is very difficult to treat and does not respond to medication or psychological therapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is sometimes used. Although ECT once had a bad reputation, it has greatly improved and can provide relief for people for whom other treatments have not worked. ECT may cause side effects such as confusion and memory loss. Although these effects are usually short-term, very occasionally they can linger.

There are support groups that help with ‘talking therapies’ for people who are depressed.

It is good to be aware that people who are depressed may resort to increase use of the socially acceptable substance(cigarette, Caffeine-chocolate, coca-cola drinks, alcohol, etc as a way of reducing the associated anxiety in an attempt to ‘treat’ the depression. A few people may use illicit substances such as cannabis. This is not a good practice and will usually make the treatment or management of the depression worse.

How can I help a loved one who is depressed?

If you know someone who has depression, first help him or her see a doctor or mental health professional.

 

Offer support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.

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Talk to him or her, and listen carefully.

 

Never ignore comments about suicide, and report them to your loved one’s therapist or doctor.

 

Invite him or her out for walks, outings, and other activities.

 

Remind him or her that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.


How can I help myself if I am depressed?

Remember that if you are taking an antidepressant, it may take several weeks for it to start working. As you continue treatment, gradually you will start to feel better. Try to do things that you used to enjoy before you had depression. Go easy on yourself. Other things that may help include:

 

Breaking up large tasks into small ones, and doing what you can as you can. Try not to do too many things at once.

 

Spending time with other people and talking to a friend or relative about your feelings.

 

Once you have a treatment plan, try to stick to it. It will take time for treatment to work.

 

Do not make important life decisions until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well.


If you or someone you know has symptoms suggestive of depression or seems to be in crisis, then

Get help quickly!  Do not keep your morbid mental experiences to yourself. Talk to somebody as soon as you can. You have to rise against stigma. Depression is an illness. It is not a sign of weakness!