You might have known by now that depression is a common mental health condition. In fact, it is so common that nearly 264 million people (kids, teenagers, adults, old aged) suffer from depression worldwide – according to WHO.
It is characterized by an immense feeling of sadness that persists for a relatively long period of time. The feeling of sadness keeps persisting for weeks, months, and sometimes for years. People with depression lose interest in any and all kinds of activities over-time.
They lack the motivation to do anything and everything. Even so, most of the people with depression may appear normal and are able to perform their day to day activities just fine. This is one reason why depression goes unnoticed most of the time and depression patients do not get treatment in time.
One thing leads to another and depression may turn into a mental disorder. Depression disorder is characterized by an inability to perform everyday tasks or live a normal life.
People who are diagnosed with a depression disorder needs immediate treatment. Else, they may develop suicidal tendencies and try to take their own life. The treatments may vary depending upon the nature of the depression disorder.
The most common types of depression disorders include:
Major Depressive Disorder
The major depressive disorder also known as clinical depression is a common mental health disorder affecting roughly 11 million adults in the US. It is a condition where a person experiences loss of interest, extremely low mood, and lacks the motivation to do anything for at least two weeks or more.
Adult females are more at risk of suffering from major depression when compared to adult males. Whereas young adults aged (18-25) are more likely to develop clinical depression in the age group- according to NIMH.
Bipolar Depressive Disorder
Bipolar depression also known as the manic disorder is a serious mental health condition where a person experiences extreme mood swings. They may sometimes experience emotional highs mania or hypomania or feel extremely low (depression).
The episodes of mood swings vary and may occur rarely or multiple times in a year. Some people may experience mood swings in between the episodes as well. Although it is a lifelong condition, it can however be managed by going under effective treatment.
The most common treatments for manic disorder include psychological counselling (psychotherapy) by a psychiatrist.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
The persistent depressive disorder also known as dysthymia is a chronic form of depression. Loss of interest, self-esteem, and productivity loss for years are some of the common symptoms of dysthymia.
It may severely affect one’s personality making them appear gloomy all the time. They may find it extremely difficult to have fun in life. Even so, it is not as serious as major depression and is easily treatable. Treatment may include counseling with medication.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder as the name suggests is a depression disorder caused by the change in seasons. It affects people mostly during the cold months when the days get shorter and the sunlight is scarce.
Symptoms of Seasonal affective disorder include irritability, foul mood, feeling low, upset stomach, lack of sleep, etc. The symptoms may last for a couple of days to a few weeks.
It is not life-threatening though if you compare it to major depressive disorder. In fact, the majority of people who suffer from SAD at some point in life do not even know that they are suffering from it.
The effective treatment of SAD include light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication.
Prenatal depression is gender-specific and only affects the women during their pregnancy. Especially those who are going to become a mother for the very first time are more at risk of developing prenatal depression.
It is common for pregnant women to experience emotional ups and downs during their pregnancy. They are highly sensitive and can easily overthink things.
Overthinking may soon take the shape of stress and anxiety which is then followed by depression. It is not something you would want your lady love with your child to go through now, do you?
How to care for your lady with child?
Women during their pregnancy need the utmost care and support from their life partner, family, and friends. It may not seem like it but they may constantly seek attention from time to time and when they do so, it is best that you never let her down.
If she tells you something just listen and do not argue if possible. And even if you do, let her win the argument. Winning can uplift her spirit and cheer her up. Another important thing to consider is that she eats all the essential nutrients for both the unborn child and herself.
Lastly, do not leave her alone if possible. Spending time alone during pregnancy is like spending weeks and months in isolation and solitude. If you have to leave her alone then make sure to call her every half an hour or so. This way she will not have time to overthink things.
And if you ever fail to take proper care of your lady with an unborn child and she is acting a little weird these days out of blues then look for these signs of prenatal depression.
Following are the symptoms of prenatal depression:
- Frequent mood swings,
- May cry easily over small arguments and things,
- May feel like eating a lot or nothing at all,
- Feeling of helplessness and hopelessness,
- Loss of sleep, etc.
If you see any of these signs and symptoms of depression listed above, it is time you act quickly and consult with a doctor. Treatment of prenatal depression is complicated since it involves the child in the womb as well.
Your doctor may suggest psychological counseling for the most part. Medication and the use of antidepressants are only prescribed by taking into consideration the health of the unborn.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Premenstrual dysphoric depression is common in women of childbearing age. It may account for up to 5% of the women of childbearing age.
PMDD is similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and occurs almost at the same time i.e. a week or two before your period starts. It can however cause more severe symptoms than PMS and the symptoms go away 2-3 days after your period starts.
The actual cause of PMDD is largely unknown. But research conducted till date points out that it has something to do with the hormonal changes that occur before your period starts.
Following are the symptoms of PMDD;
- Foul mood and irritability that may last for days affecting others around,
- May get periods of panic attacks,
- Frequent and crying easily,
- May feel sad and upset,
- Loss of interest in any and all activities,
- Food carvings,
- Suicidal thoughts,
- Sleeping difficulty,
- Lack of concentration, etc.
Treatment of PMDD includes counselling along with medication.
Depression in Children
It is hard to believe but depression in children is a real thing and affects hundreds of thousands of children across globe.
Childhood depression is often misread as natural emotions and psychological changes that occur as the child grows up. This is one of the most neglected depression cases of all. As a result, most of the children with childhood depression do not get any treatment at all.
So how do you differentiate between childhood depression and a child being sad or upset?
It can be quite a challenge as not every child who appears sad or upset is depressed. The thing with children is that they can act a little weird from time to time.
But depression is only when their sadness becomes persistent affecting their normal, social activities, academic grades, and their interests. You’ll also notice changes in their behavior, ones that are not normal for their age. They may act like adults with depression.
Keeping an eye no your children won’t hurt. Try spending some time with your children. That way your child will open up to you and you’ll get to know all the new side of your kid.
If you see any warning signs and symptoms make sure to consult a medical health professional ASAP. Remember depression if left untreated can destroy your kid’s childhood and even their adulthood.
Following are the signs and symptoms of childhood depression that you should keep an eye for;
- Is easily irritated and gets angry quickly,
- Refuses to go to school,
- Loss of interest,
- Decreasing grades at school,
- Social withdrawal,
- Aches and pain,
- Change in sleeping behavior,
- Gets tired more than usual,
- Change in eating behavior, etc.
Depression in Teenagers
Nearly 20 percent of teenagers suffer from depression growing up and the majority of them are girls. It is also the leading cause of suicide among teenagers worldwide. In fact, teen suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers in the US. This comes to show the seriousness of teen depression.
Teenage is the most critical stage of our life. It is when our body goes through some physical, psychological, and hormonal changes. These changes may cause teenagers to freak out if not guided properly.
Frequent mood swings and an urge for freedom can make them appear like outlaws. Their rebellious attitude can make things even worse. So when you look at them you feel like slapping then rather than giving them a tight hug.
You see your teenage kid as who they appear on the outside and you feel frustrated and disappointed in them. But what you actually need to see is their inside. Only then you’ll understand how vulnerable and weak they are.
It is a huge mistake from your side if you cannot penetrate the mud wall around your own children believing it to be unbreakable. If you do so then you’re just pushing your kids further away in the darkness.
Their rebellious nature and their feelings of hatred get fanned and soon they find themselves in an unknown realm. It is only then they fall victim to depression. What’s worse is that they’ve got no moral support and find themselves stranded.
Their feeling of hopelessness and helplessness reaches to a point where their mental health is compromised. At this point, the majority of teens are at risk of developing suicidal thoughts. It is medically termed as a major depressive disorder.
The signs and symptom of depression are similar to that of the older adults. However, they may also show some unique depression symptoms such as:
- Rebellious behavior,
- Loss of interest,
- Irresponsible behavior,
- Memory loss,
- Lacks concentration,
- Suicidal thoughts,
- Attempt to suicide,
- A sudden drop in grades,
- Change in sleeping behavior,
- Drug abuse,
- Sudden and frequent anxiety,
- A decreasing number of friends,
- Eats a lot or very little, etc.
Depression in Adults
The fact that anyone can suffer from depression anytime is frightening and the worst part of suffering from depression is that you’ll never admit it. Anyone can suffer from depression anytime and the worst part of all is that you won’t ever know that you are suffering from depression.
How do you know that you’re depressed?
It is quite common for people to moan over the loss of their loved ones or get hyped up when they land a dream job. The feeling of sadness or joy may last for days and sometimes for a few weeks and not more than that. But if it does last for over months and years, know that there is something definitely off here.
When sadness makes a home inside your heart and your thoughts are clouded know that you’ve fallen victim to depression. It is true for those who are in their celebration mood even after months have passed by. Over sadness or overjoy is the very first sign of depression. Later it is accompanied by a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.
People with depression are forced to live a life full of compromises. They struggle with even the simplest of daily chores. Their lives take a turn for the worst possible scenario.
Living with depression is not a choice but rather a necessity. You feel like fighting with your own self every single day and deep in your heart you know you cannot win. Depression can affect kids, teenagers, and adults alike.
The signs and symptoms however may differ depending upon the type of depression disorders, age, and sex.
So How Does One Suffer From Depression?
One of the common ways people develop depression is when they go through certain life circumstances that trigger sadness and pain. Events such as a breakup, loss of loved ones, job loss, separation, etc. often break up the spirit of the individuals.
They feel immense sadness and there is no harm in being sad over the loss of loved ones or something precious. But if the sadness in his/her heart isn’t cured over time, they may start to shape up. Much like a tornado takes shape within a calm ocean, depression takes shape within a sadist’s heart.
A tornado takes shape when the two air currents, rising air, and rotating horizontal breeze combine. The faster the wind blows the larger and stronger the tornado gets.
Similarly, depression takes shape when the sadness inside one’s heart gets fanned with the negativity within one’s mind. The stronger is one’s feelings for someone or something, the sadder the person gets. Too much sadness when fanned by increasing negativity, leads to depression very quickly.
Sadness inside one’s heart when it takes the shape of helplessness and loneliness, there is no mistaking it. It is an early sign of depression. The lonelier and helpless one feels the stronger is the feeling of despair. In no time, despair changes into depression, and the cycle continues.
With each complete cycle, depression gets an upper hand. And the longer it takes for someone to break the cycle, the harder it gets. Finally, depression wins the battle against time and you are no more what you used to be.
Your desire to live and thrive is overshadowed by your negative thoughts and emotions. You are thrown into despair with no hope of escape. Now there isn’t much that you can do on your own rather than to surrender to your despair.
You start thinking that you are nobody and completely useless. You start blaming your actions indiscriminately and take the blame for the things that you have done. And not just that but you blame yourself for the things and events that have nothing to do with your actions.
If nothing is done and your depression keeps growing and takes the shape of a disorder.
The following changes are seen in people who are suffering from some kinds of depression disorder.
- Feeling detached or lonely,
- Surrounded by Fear,
- Talks less than usual,
- Feeling of hopelessness and helplessness,
- Change in sleeping pattern,
- Smoking or drinking more than usual,
- Change in eating pattern,
- Sudden loss of interest in their favorite stuff and activities,
- Loss of concentration at work,
- Pessimistic and lack of self-esteem,
- Mood swing,
- Suicidal tendencies, etc.
Read our separate article on Depression Signs and Symptoms and how to detect them.
There is no exact known reason for what causes depression in the first place. Although studies suggest that a combination of a wide range of factors can cause depression in an individual. These factors include loss of loved ones, a major setback in life, personality, gender, etc.
Below is the list of factors that may trigger depression:
Loss of Loved Ones may Cause Depression in Some
Losing someone you love and care a lot is the hardest feeling in the entire universe. You cannot stop yourself from becoming sad and cry to your heart’s content. It is natural and there is no harm in moaning.
But it is also true that you are at a higher risk of becoming emotionally unstable. And if you show no effort to control your emotions, they may worsen your sadness and increase your chances of becoming depressed.
People often find it difficult to cope up with situations that involve the loss of loved ones such as family members or dear friends. They cannot break out of their emotional barrier and will do anything in their power not to let others break it for them as well.
Especially, those who are dependent upon others find it difficult to cope up with their situation. They feel as if their entire world has met its end and there is no one to support them. What’s worse is that they actually believe they have no place left to go which complicates things even more.
This feeling of helplessness and loneliness gradually clouds their mind. They cannot think for themselves and they believe there is no one left for them who will think for them. They feel moaning and grieving is the only thing left for them to do. And while they moan they start cursing and blaming themselves.
They strongly believe that everything that happened is all their fault and they need to punish themselves even if no one else will. It is extremely hard for them to realize the fact that everyone eventually loses someone important to them. And the best thing to do is keep that person in one’s heart and move on.
But not everyone is strong enough or mentally prepared to let go of things and move on with their lives. And those who fail to do so eventually pay the price.
Major Life Events May Lead to Depression
Your life is a combination of major life events. These events are what make up your entire life story. The events such as getting your dream job, marrying your dream partner, job loss, breakup, divorce, family conflict, moving out, etc. all can contribute to you developing depression.
It is thus not necessarily your bad emotions that always trigger depression. Sometimes over-excitement and joy can also trigger depression in some people.
People are emotional beings and the smallest of things and events can make them happy or sad.
Their body goes under hormonal changes whenever they feel happy or sad. And surprisingly enough there are a few hormones that are actually common such as dopamine and serotonin that get a boost whenever you feel happy or sad.
Now imagine the level of excitement whenever you encounter major life events such as you marrying your dream partner or you get promoted to the management team. Then again there are events where you break up with your partner or you get fired from your post and more.
No matter whether sad or happy moments, these life events are likely to get your dopamine and serotonin hormone skyrocket in no time at all. As a result, your emotions can go wild and you will find it difficult to subdue the effects of the event on your physical body as well as your mentality.
As the saying goes “certain things are less likely to stay the same forever” your body and mind are no more the same as they were before the incident took place. Thus you are more likely to grow emotionally unstable and chances are you may also fall victim to depression.
Abuse and Violence Are Linked With Depression
A person who has previously experienced some kinds of abuse and violence are at risk of developing depression. Furthermore, they are more at risk of suffering from anxiety which may also lead to depression.
Abuse be it physical or mental isn’t a natural phenomenon. There’s an ill mentality behind every abuser and no one with the right mindset will abuse someone else just cause they find it pleasing or exciting.
It is thus a cruel situation born out of one’s ill mentality and thinking. And when someone gets caught up in their cruel act, there is no telling how they will toy with them in the name of being right or amusement.
Incidents such as these can leave a deeper mark on the person who got abused. They find it difficult to believe that they were toyed by someone so evil which should have only existed in Hollywood thriller movies. The immense pain and suffering which they undergo while being abused forces their body and mind to undergo changes.
These changes are in response to the unnatural pain and suffering to help them stay safe and protected. Since these changes are a way of their body and mind preparing themselves to tackle similar situations, they make it hard when someone breaks free from their sufferings.
They cannot cope up with normal or say natural circumstances where they are abused no more. Their body and mind are so used to being toyed and receiving pain that not getting toyed or not receiving pain seems unnatural to their body and mind and they start panicking.
It is just like you spending time with your phone every day and suddenly one day your phone breaks down or gets lost and you start panicking. You cannot control your thoughts and stay that way unless you get another phone.
A person who has undergown immense torture and abuse for days, months or even years gets used to receiving pain and dealing with suffering. Not having to deal with the pain and suffering anymore puts even more pressure on their brain and body making it hard to function normally. They may soon find themselves under anxiety and eventually fall victim to depression.
Lifestyle and Personality May Also Cause Depression
It is proven that some types of personalities are more at risk of developing depression at some point in their life. Especially, those with introvert personalities and like to keep things to themselves are more at risk.
This is because of the fact that sharing how you feel about something and getting others’ opinions is one way of relieving stress. Failing to do so means you are bottling up on your daily stress and someday soon enough you will develop stress disorder and can even become depressed.
People who are socially detached and live a life of solitude are even more at risk of developing depression. People are social beings much like they are emotional beings. They need people around them to feel secure and relaxed. You cannot imagine living alone in the woods. In fact, the idea of you living in woods can leave you terrified and devastated.
Living alone in the concrete jungle is no different. It can leave you vulnerable. Your feelings of insecurity are at an all-time high which is one reason you grow stressed and anxious. And if the situation drags for a relatively long period of time, you fall victim to depression.
Genetics May Also Contribute to Depression
Having depression may also be related to different types of genes. A person who belongs to a family with one or more of their family members having depression previously may significantly increase their chances of having depression. It is not always the case though.
There are cases where someone who belonged to a family of depressed was never affected by depression once in life. And there are others who belong to a healthy family and still manage to fall, victim, to depression time and again.
It is thus not a certainty that if you come from a family of depressed then you’ll fall victim to depression over time. As humans evolve, so does their genes and so, it is all up to you to whether you will fall victim to depression or not. Genes, however, play a small role in the process which can be reverted by individual approach.
How To Treat Depression?
Depression muck like any mental condition can be cured. can be cured easily overtime by practicing depression management techniques.
If you are wondering about what should be done in order to cure depression, here’s a three-phase curing strategy.
Getting Help From Friends and Family:
Family and friends are the first points of contact for everyone. One finds comfort and love when they are with their friends and family.
When things get tough for you, they are the very first people to notice the change in you. They might even question you frequently to understand your situation better. You might get irritated at times when your state of mind is compromised.
But do not forget, they are your well-wishers and not your enemies to allow something bad to befall upon you. And so it is your responsibility to share things with them. The sooner the better. Keeping things to yourself might bring misfortune to you and it is true. Especially when those secrets are killing you from inside.
So even if you decide not to share anything with your friends and family and now find yourself in a troubling situation, make getting helps from your friends and family your first priority. It is better than not getting help at all especially with depression. Or any outside help that you may think will work.
Living With Depression:
It may sound awkward at first but when you fall victim to depression, the best thing to do is accept that truth and try making up with your situation. Acceptance is the first step towards getting your freedom back.
Falling victim to depression is similar to you getting locked up in a dark dungeon with no light and your hands and legs cuffed as well. Unless you can free your hands and legs your movements are restricted.
So in order to free yourself, you must first accept all the terms and conditions imposed on you. Only then your enemy may go easy on you and free your hands and legs which will give more leverage to you.
Until and unless you accept the fact that you’ve fallen victim to depression, there’s no escape for you. The harder you try to reject the truth, the worse your situation gets. Always remember your actions against an enemy you cannot see or believe exists is futile.
So you must first get to understand your situation better which is only possible when you make friends with your enemy. Making friends with your enemy i.e. depression, in this case, gives you more leverage to move and observe your surroundings. You then will see things in a new light and may even discover an escape way on the process.
Try Getting Back to Routine Life:
Once you accept your situation and your movements are no more restricted, its time you try and get back to your routine life. It may take some tike to grasp the situation you’re in even after you’ve accepted it. So, patience is the key here. Your patience will be tested like never before, you may feel the burden upon you getting heavier by the day.
Your burden might feel unbearable to you and might want to unload all of your burdens at once, which is practically impossible. This is when you feel like getting drunk and high. You may indulge yourself into drinking and abuse of substances.
You may find temporary relief when you are drunk or feeling high until the effects of illicit substances such as drugs ware off. And once the effects wear off, you’re back to where you started. You might then repeat your actions of drinking and abusing substances that provide you temporary relief.
Soon without you even realizing you become addicted which is even worse. Now even if you were to get all better somehow by a miracle, you’ll fall victim to depression once again and this time for good. Your addiction will drag you down to hell once more and your sufferings will never end. There will come a time when no amount of alcohol will make you drunk and no amount of drugs will make you high.
Your only bet to win is to try and get back to your routine life. Getting back might be difficult for you compared to finding temporary relief. But you must not give up your struggle, rather abandon your stupid desire for temporary relief and look at the bigger picture of life.
Soon you’ll find your burden being chopped off little by little with every effort that you make in living your routine life. You are now ready for medication which will further aid you with your burden and sufferings.
Medication and Counseling:
Not everyone has the will power and determination needed to escape the deep darkness of hell. And not everyone has a superhero friend who looks after them when in trouble. Most of us are just ordinary human beings with ordinary willpower and no connection with any superhero what so ever.
This is why most of the people who fall victim to depression need counseling. But counseling alone won’t work. It is just another way of giving your ordinary willpower a boost. It is you who needs to do everything and fight for your freedom.
In rare cases, medication might be the only way out for some of the people whose lives get stuck at one point. It is, however, difficult to determine what works best for you. Thus, your best way to find out what works best for you is to seek advice from professionals or specialists.
If they advise you to seek counseling, it is best for you to go for counseling sessions with experts in the field. And if that does not work for you, try consulting with them and seek further guidance. They may suggest you try some more counseling sessions before advising on medication.
Medication is your last option which is advised only if your quality of life is being compromised. So, do not come to a conclusion by yourself just cause a few counseling sessions did not work out for you and start medication on your own.
Phase II is where you actually see any change in your situation. It is where you’ve found your way back home and all you need to do is stay on the track long enough to reach your destination. It is comprised of activities that will help you stay focused and on track.
Participating in Physical Activities:
It may sound silly to you but a person under depression finds it difficult to complete the simplest of the tasks. Even the basic tasks of brushing their teeth, combing hair, bathing, etc. seem impossible to them. This happens mainly due to the lack of coordination between the body and the brain.
Struggle puts your body under stress and the body produces cortisol hormone that fuels the negative emotions and clouds the brain. As one’s thoughts get clouded, they take a relatively long time to process and so the body takes a longer time to act. It is true the other way around as well. As a result, a vicious cycle is formed.
Breaking out of this cycle is important and the best way to do so is by participating in some kinds of physical activities. Participating in physical activities be it as simple as going out for a walk or cycling and sightseeing can significantly improve the mood. It does so by relieving the stress hormone cortisol and promoting dopamine, the feel-good hormone in the body.
When you’re under depression, one of the major fear you have is the fear of rejection from society. Societies’ point of view matters the most to everyone. After all, we are social beings and need the protection of society in every aspect of life.
Socializing is the best way to get over your fear of rejection which is one of the major causes of depression. Meeting with as many people as you can and talking to them helps to gain confidence. You’ll need this confidence of yours in order to stay motivated and focused.
It also provides you with a rare opportunity to catch up on things that you’ve missed out on. You can utilize your time on socializing with your friends and people you know. Talk about the past good memories and fun stuff and how you used to have fun together.
You might as well want to relive your past memories together with your friends. These actions help to fill your body with much needed positive energy. You get motivated to push past your limits. And your motivation will help you to get back on your track in no time at all.
Practicing Mindfulness Meditation:
There’s nothing better than to take some time to sit back and meditate. It helps you to self actualize and forgive yourself for your past actions. As one’s guilt is another reason for someone to fall victim to depression. Forgiving oneself of all the past actions will actually help you to break out of your sorry state.
The mindfulness meditation technique works best for people who want to live in the moment. It is one way to have a better understanding of one’s emotions in their purest form i.e. without judging them. Understanding the emotions boiling inside you helps to keep your mind at peace.
A peaceful mind is a weapon against negativity and sorrow. You’ll soon learn to accept your situation which will put you at ease from your pain and suffering. You can totally liberate yourself from the grasp of depression and get back to living your usual life.
Practicing meditation on a regular basis prepares you for the worst and thus you grow bold and fearless.
If you are new to meditation, here’s something to help you get started on meditation: A complete meditational guide…
Phase 3 – Follow Up:
Once you’ve successfully overcome your depression, it is time to get back to your usual life. It can appear difficult at first but you will soon get used to it like before. But you should keep one thing in mind that this is not the end. In fact, it may be just the beginning of the worst to come if you are not aware.
Studies suggest that a person who has been through depression and recovered is subjected to mental disorder, one that is worst than the previous. It is thus important that you do not stop your counseling sessions and medication just because you feel a little better.
You also need to be open about your problems with your friends and families. This way you’ll not suffer another emotional breakdown that may cause you to suffer from another series of depression.
Eat a healthy diet, exercise daily, and take your time to meditate regularly. This way your hormones will be under control and you are less likely to get clouded by your negative thoughts.