Depression is one of the most underestimated illnesses out there. Moreover, it is one of the major causes of suicide deaths all over the world.
Depression is not just about being unhappy or experiencing the blues. It is way deeper than that.
Mabel (not real name) never understood why she was always in tears. She could start crying for no reason, then stop abruptly. Getting out of bed every day was a nightmare. Mabel preferred sleeping long hours and having herself in oblivion. To her, real life sucked.
Mabel had a good job, a loving husband, and two beautiful kids. Yet she was always sad.
Her husband, friends and family did not understand her. They felt she was just an ungrateful human being. Sometimes, they even called her lazy. Her husband would try to placate her, then threaten her with divorce when there is no change.
Nobody around Mabel realised she was very sick. They did not know she was suffering from depression. They did not realise it was not her fault that she was dejected every time. Her friends wanted her to ‘just become cheerful’. They did not understand why she could not just do such a ‘simple thing’ as being happy and cheerful.
Until the day her husband came home and found her suicide note.
There are so many people around us suffering from depression. We tend to misunderstand them more often than not. We call them ungrateful, lazy, and even arrogant.
Do you have such a person around you that you have tagged this way?
Are you even the one being tagged?
Depression is a mental illness. It occurs when there is imbalance in the neurotransmitters in our brains.
Depression is not the same as just being sad. It is not the same as feeling under the weather.
Depression is way worse than these.
It is a disorder that comprises of continuous feeling of sadness, hopelessness and incapability. Even though there may be situations that trigger depression,Most times, the sufferer do not have a particular reason for being depressed.
There are several types of depression. They include:
Major Depressive Disorder
This is also referred to as Clinical depression. The sufferer loses interest in activities they usually enjoy. They are continuously sad and teary. They feel like there is no hope and they can never stop being sad. They feel always tired and do not ever want to leave their beds. If symptoms as these last continuously for more than two weeks, such a person is suffering from clinical depression.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
PDD is also referred to as Dysthymia. It is a mild form of depression, but it may last for years. A person with persistent depressive disorder is usually dejected. He does not get excited for happy situations. He is constantly in a low, irritable mood.
Dysthymia makes the sufferer gain or lose weight drastically within a short time. They may also sleep excessively, or find it difficult to sleep at all.
This was initially known as Manic depression. It is a disorder that alternates depressive episodes with manic episodes. The sufferer feels so sad and hopeless for some time, and cries excessively. Then, suddenly, they go manic. They start doing impulsive things, like making dangerous sexual decisions, or spending money unreasonably. They become loud, irritable and energised.
It is normal to have some mood swings after birthing a baby. This is due to fluctuations in the hormonal chemistry of a new mother.
However, if the ‘baby blues’ persist for more than two weeks, we might be looking at a case of postpartum depression.
In this type of depression, the new mother does not feel excited about her changed condition. She is constantly sad, irritable and feel stressed up. She cries a lot and sometimes gets aggressive. She may try to hurt herself or her baby. She feels ashamed of her body, her thoughts. She may transfer the aggression to the child. If not immediately taken care of, postpartum depression may lead to psychosis. This will add delusions and hallucinations to the mix.
What causes Depression?
Depression can be caused by physiological, environmental and psychological components inherent in an individual.
Some of these causes include:
If a family has a history of depressive disorders, it is most likely that an individual from such family will have sets of genes that may trigger depression in them.
Faulty brain chemicals
Sometimes, the neurotransmitters in the brain just decide to go haywire. This may cause depressive moods or other psychiatric disorders
Major life changes
Life changes like getting married, graduating from school, being diagnosed of a chronic illness, or having a baby may cause an individual to feel so overwhelmed. This may also cause depressive moods.
There are some medications that actually have adverse effect of depression. Discuss with your health care provider, to be sure that your depression is not caused by a medication you are on.
Alcohol and drug addiction
These could also interfere with the brain chemistry and trigger depression. Avoiding the use of alcohol and drugs to ‘cure’ problems will go a long way.
What are the signs and symptoms of depression?
- A feeling of intense sadness, most times for no reason
- Fits of crying
- Feeling of being alone
- Avoiding staying around other people
- Suicidal thoughts
Treatment of Depression
Depression should be taken seriously to prevent complication of suicide.
If you or someone around you have symptoms of depression, get medical help as soon as possible.
Depression can be treated with medications and psychotherapy.
It is also important to be surrounded by a firm and understanding support group. The support group can consist of the healthcare providers, family, partner, friends, colleagues, and even online support groups.
Do not try to deal with depression on your own. Get help.
Getting help does not make you weak. In fact, it shows how courageous you are, in wanting to fight for your happiness and your life.
You matter. Never forget that.
Read also: How to be effective in reducing stress.