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What is Depression?
The mental state at which an individual goes through austere unhappiness and sadness can be defined as Depression.
It can be perfectly normal for people to experience low mood and sadness every now and again within a short period of time and return to their normal self within a few hours or days. However, when depression sets in, the sadness and grief will continue for many weeks, months or even years without clarification of when it will be over.
Depression is deeper than brief unhappiness or being fed up about a certain part of life which shall pass within a short period of time. Depression is not just the feeling of sadness but a significant medical illness accompanied with real symptoms.
Recognising depression can be a challenge and one can easily presume the melancholy has nothing to do with depression as an illness but rather the result of difficulties in daily lives. Depression affects the sufferer in many ways that will bring disturbance to mood, behaviour and way of life. There will always be some symptoms present in the life of the victim which should assist in recognising the presence of depression. There are certain ways a victim will feel when depression sets in, such as loneliness, sensitivity and emotional exhaustion, feeling like a failure, being tearful and losing complete interest in activities they would normally enjoy partaking in, as well as anxiety.
The presence of any or all of these signs and symptoms can be indicators of depression. Recognising these symptoms early will help in starting the journey to a full recovery which can be made with the right treatment and support channels.
What is the Main Cause of Depression?
The main cause of depression varies greatly from bereavement to illness, from money worries to job loss, from divorce to genetics and many more factors. Identifying the type of depression you have is highly important in order to get the right help and support.
Presentation of signs and symptoms such as loss of interest in sexual intercourse, insomnia (sleep disorder), reduced appetite and unplanned weight loss, recurrent suicidal and thoughts of death, as well as suicidal attempts, are all signs and symptoms of clinical depression also known as major depression. Psychotic Depression can also be seen as a subordinate of clinical depression. The inclusion of psychotic events such as hallucinations and delusions differentiate Psychotic depression from major depression. The sufferer will notice about themselves a decline in self-care and lack of concentration. These are some of the symptoms of psychotic depression.
Dysthymia Depression also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder is another form of mild, chronic depression which can contain signs and symptoms seen in clinical depression. Symptoms such as poor appetite, sadness and avoidance of social activities are all some of Dysthymia symptoms which in turn present in clinical depression. Dysthymia is said to be less severe to that of clinical or major depression but years of suffering from Persistent Depressive Disorder can lead to Major or Clinical depression. Atypical depression is also a subsidiary of dysthymic depression. The symptoms are quite extensive and lots of similarities with that of clinical as well as dysthymia depression. The victim may experience, chronic sadness, weight gain and loss, loneliness as well as suicidal thoughts.
Bipolar Depression is another illness that can be classified as a type of depression. It involves changes in mood from one spectrum to another. There will be periods where the victim will be feeling huge sadness, periods of feeling low and exhausted (depression) and then to the other spectrum where victims will feel elevated and overactive (mania and hypomania). While the victim is in mania or hypomania episode, it can be confused as a state at which the person has come out of depression because of all the positive energy that will be sensed. Plans could be made, dreams could be projected and excessive purchases of things that are not necessarily needed could be present as well. These are all signs and symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and spotting these signs early enough will assist with prompt diagnosis.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder commonly known as winter depression or winter blues is another type of depression that affects the sufferer seasonally. It is most common during the winter period because the severity of the signs and symptoms are more conspicuous during the cold months. The sufferer could be feeling low mood, lacklustre, worthlessness as well as gaining weight. A cause of SAD is not yet discovered, but it is believed that a limited body exposure to sunlight could cause a decline in serotonin levels (mood), and increase the melatonin level (sleepiness) in your body and this could be a factor that contributes to SAD. This form of depression can be less severe if noted and treated very early.
Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression
Peripartum Depression is a form of depression that arises during pregnancy or after the childbirth. The sufferer will experience feelings such as tiredness, crying for no reason, feeling of harming the baby and also anger to their partner. The symptoms can also be extensive and include many signs similar to other types of depression. It should be noted that Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression is not the same as the ‘baby blues’ which only last for a few days or few weeks at most. It is a medical illness which will need to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. It can be assumed sometimes that men do not suffer from this type of depression but in fact, men are just as susceptible as women but perhaps are less likely to admit to an issue or be picked up by other local medical teams such as midwives and health visitors. The symptoms the man will experience are quite similar to the woman and can also include self-conflict as well as extramarital affairs.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder can also cause depression. This health problem causes anxiety, irritation, panic attacks as well as depression weeks before the start of a woman’s monthly period. The symptoms can be short-lived and disappear a couple of days before the start of a period. The cause of this disorder is unknown but changes in serotonin levels, as well as hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, could play a role.
There are many other types of depressions and disorders that each and everyone can suffer. There is no immunity for anyone and everybody can be potential sufferers to these illnesses. Recognising depression from the early onset is the key to recovery. Noticing unusual changes to your normal day to activities and behaviour and identifying anything in yourself (or someone else) that seems odd will assist in taking those first steps towards recovery. Speaking to your Doctor is essential as they will be able to diagnose, assess and manage the symptoms for you as well as signposting you to the relevant agencies that will use the right tools and programmes to help in conquering depression.
It is very important to remember that depression is not your fault; there are many factors beyond your power that contribute to the main cause of depression such as genetics, personality, and biochemistry as well as environmental factors. All types of depression affect people in different ways but the most important thing is being able to speak out and ask for support when something doesn’t feel right. Speaking out and asking for help is the biggest step to take when suffering from depression because the good news about depression is there is always a way out of it!
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