Depression is a mental health issue that affects about 10 – 15% of people all over the world. Up to 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Depression takes various forms, including post-natal depression, bipolar disorder, manic-depressive illness and seasonal affective disorder. Sometimes, depression is also linked to other mental illnesses like anxiety and psychosis.
Having depression does not mean that you’re going mad. The causes of depression are still being studied. However, there are many options to manage this condition. Depression is often treated as a taboo subject, and many people are embarrassed to even talk about it.
What causes depression?
There is no one cause of depression. For some people, their depression is triggered by one very traumatizing event, such as the loss of wealth or property, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job and the like. Depression is more than just a feeling of sadness.
Usually, depression doesn’t go away easily and you can’t ‘just snap out of it’. It usually feels like a sadness that doesn’t go away no matter what you do. Depression isn’t something you should hide. The first step to overcoming it is to acknowledge the condition, and start opening up to help.
In some people, depression is caused by a change in hormones. One example of this is post-natal depression that some women experience after giving birth. More often than not, post-natal depression is ignored and these women suffer in silence.
Post-natal depression happens because certain female reproductive hormones are re-adjusting their levels after a pregnancy and birth. Contrary to popular belief, women do not have control over what they experience during this time.
Interestingly, statistics show that women have a higher chance than men of being diagnosed with depression. When it comes to age, those between 18 and 22 form the highest number of depressives in the world. Experts have attributed this to the stress associated with being an adolescent.
What are the common signs of depression?
Depression symptoms can vary from person to person. Not everyone will have the same experience and this list functions only as a guide. In some people, depression can take the form of a deep sadness, whereas for others, it displays itself as anger. Remember that these symptoms have to be experienced for a very long period of time, before a formal diagnosis of depression can be given.
Lack of Interest
This symptom is sometimes described as a ‘heaviness’ which makes you feel weighed down. You will feel a significant lack of motivation to carry out daily activities, such as going to work or school. Even waking u and getting out of bed will become a chore. Eventually, activities that used to give you joy will cease to be attractive and hobbies may be abandoned.
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People with depression often sleep too little or too much. In some cases, depressives are not able to fall asleep at night and this is called insomnia. This leads to them sleeping in the day time and unable to go to work or function normally.
Irritablity and a Short Fuse
Depression doesn’t always come out as sadness. In some people, depression can manifest itself as anger management issues. This includes getting angry and worked up very easily, losing temper at people over small things and becoming abusive. If your depression comes out like this, you may find that your relationships with your friends and loved ones become strained. You may even burn some bridges and hurt people.
Sometimes the pain becomes so deep and unbearable, you feel like there’s only one way you can end it all. These type of thoughts can be caused by depression, and they often occur repeatedly. Some people may even start to research and plan. These types of actions are dangerous and suicidal sentiments should not be ignored. If you know anyone expressing these types of thoughts, whether online or in person, please persuade them to get help.
Feelings of Hopelessness
Depressed people find it very hard to see the bright side of things. They always feel that they’re not good enough, nobody loves them and there’s nothing to live for. All these may not be true, but it’s very hard for them to see the truth.
Eating Too Much or Too Little
Some people who undergo depression will overeat, causing sudden weight gain. Others will lose their appetite and lose a lot of weight in a very short time, which is a cause for concern as both these weight issues can carry other health problems in the future.
What can you do if you or your loved one has depression?
Depression is never easy to overcome. It’s really challenging and many people succumb to it because they feel it’s just too hard. Although it appears to be an uphill battle, here’s what you can do to:
- Reach out for help. Speak to someone who won’t judge you. If you can, reach out to a professional, such as a counselor, therapist, clinical psychologist or other mental health practitioners. There are also hotlines you can reach out too for those who are feeling suicidal.
- Don’t shut yourself away from the world. There’s no need to push yourself and attend all the social events out there, but you should at least go out and mingle once or twice a week. Keep that option open.
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- Adopt a pet that you can care for and love. Pets are very therapeutic and provide plenty of love, support and acceptance. They also have a very calming influence on those that suffer from anxiety.
- Join a support group, so that you will be among people who understand and can relate to what you’re going through. You’ll also feel less alone.
- Keep yourself healthy. Eat balanced meals, exercise and get sufficient sleep.
- Remove as much stress as possible from your life. This may mean distancing yourself from toxic people or persons, changing jobs or moving away from the city.
- Learn to take breaks. Go on holidays, have a quiet time alone to reflect.
Remember that you are still love and cherished, and one day things will improve and become better for you as long as you don’t give up the good fight.