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Depression has been described in several meaningful ways and words, but its deep repercussions are simply impossible to scribble in just a few sentences. None of the definitions can even come close to this mental health condition which affects an individual’s thought process, behavior and outlook towards life and relationships.
Interestingly, The World Health Organization defines depression as a common mental disorder which is characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep, erratic appetite, feeling of tiredness and poor concentration.
However, in these fast paced, technology driven times its meaning has taken a lot of bashing. Even a couple of bad days on personal front are described as depression, which is not the case. Although it is tough to recognize the onset of depression especially with such a complex lifestyle, depression can definitely occur with virtually all forms of psychiatric and physical diagnosis.
Moreover, its effects on men and women, young and old, can be quite unique and individualized. It also means these individuals display symptoms of this clinical malady in dissimilar manner. Catching this illness at an early stage improves the chances of complete and lasting recovery and the re-establishment of that person’s reputation and character. The idea is to identify these recurring, troubling behavioral attributes.
If depression symptoms are ignored or left unattended, it could lead to complete fallout. The result could be disastrous for relatives and friends, not to mention the impact it will have on the concerned person. It can ruin the affected individual by snatching away happiness, health, relationships, career and success.
Depression is a progressive disease which makes it even more difficult to recognize during the early stages. Unfortunately and rather ironically, in the clinical world, depression is also known as the “common cold” of psychiatry which is true to a certain extent, as most of us at some point in time do face this illness in its mildest form. However, most of us manage to bounce back when the compelling phase ends.
However, it is not always the case. Some of the powerful triggers do not allow individuals to bounce back. As mentioned above, a depressive episode or a trigger can occur with virtually all psychiatric and physical diagnosis. It is a by-product of many varying mental illnesses.
All of us face social and economic turbulent times. However, some cope up with the abrupt change rather easily while others fail to do so. Stressful life events, bereavement, divorce, employment and financial loss and death of close ones are some of the triggers which can result in psychiatric disorders, especially depression. Persistent abnormal behavior and change in personal attributes are some of the symptoms of depression. They are a manifestation of an underlying serious illness.
Incidentally, even chronic physical illnesses can trigger depression. This could happen to young as well as older patients. In the case of the latter, the chances of a person slipping into depression increase significantly due to lack of motivation, support system and weak physical being. While in younger people the tendency to turn to alcohol as a quick getaway from the trauma is a more common reaction. Addiction actually aggravates the depression further, leading to more an increase in the severity of the condition and in extreme cases, can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Life Changing Events
Loss of close friends and family members, job and/or monetary loss, divorce and parenting troubles can all lead to depression. These are stressful events for anyone to experience and can often require professional counselling and psychiatric advice. If left undiagnosed or untreated, the early symptoms of depression can quickly snowball and lead to the development of acute depression.
Illnesses, whether chronic or otherwise, can trigger bouts of mood swings. Life threatening illnesses such as cancer, heart conditions and head injuries can really take a toll on a person’s mental and emotional health. Unlike cancer and coronary heart illness, chronic illnesses have also been found to cause self imposed social isolation in patients. The associated fatigue and lack of interest and motivation create the perfect breeding ground for depression, which sets in silently. On the other hand, severe head injury can simply trigger several behavioral changes such as extreme mood swings, headaches which results in emotional repercussions.
Family History of Depression
As mentioned above, personality traits which are hereditary in nature can be a relevant factor in an individual’s propensity for depression. Family history plays an important role in the way a person handles stressful events. Individuals belonging to families with a history of depression have more chances of falling into that same illness than others. Research has proved this beyond doubt.
Some women are particularly vulnerable to depression after pregnancy. This is called postnatal depression. Although this form of depression may sound less threatening, the fact is for some women it a question of life and death. The depression symptoms are not too obvious and one needs to take a closer look. Unlike other forms of depression, postnatal depression often causes a distinct lack of affection for the newborn and/or motivation to care for it.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Alcohol and drug abuse can easily cause low self-esteem and bring about social isolation. It can also lead to job loss, monetary loss, breakups and chronic illnesses. These are some of compelling events and situations which can push an individual into the abyss of depression as a result of alcohol and drug abuse.
Depression is not only complex in nature but varies in intensity. Mentioned below are some of them, based on the magnitude of effect it has on individuals. Incidentally, the five warning signs that a person is suffering from depression lie within these depression “Types”.
Mild depression typically has a non-threatening impact on life. So what does this mean for the person who is suffering from mild depression? It simply means lack of focus, irritation, sleepless nights, fatigue and a dip in confidence. All of this could lead to mild confrontations and difficulties in daily life. However, it doesn’t seriously impact life per se.
Moderate depression can significantly alter life. Moderate depression includes all the above symptoms plus behavioral changes as well. This often includes sudden irrational behavior and intense/unpredictable mood swings. The signs are ominous in this case.
Severe depression literally snatches the rational powers and hinders with daily activities. Severe depression makes life a living nightmare as the individual’s judgement is seriously compromised. Accomplishing daily chores turns into mission impossible. A small percentage of people show signs of suicidal inclination. Those suffering from severe depression often experience extremely low morale and motivation. Their view tends to be pessimistic in nature all the time with little or no break from overwhelming sadness or fear.
Extreme depression can lead to delusions or beliefs which are fabricated and based in paranoia. Extremely depressed individuals may consider friends and relatives to be their enemy as they hear nonexistent voices and whispers or even have visions of conspiracies. Delusions and hallucinations are also a part of extreme depression, although it occurs in a small percentage of people. Such illusionary feelings can turn into psychotic problem.
As the name suggests, this form of depression occurs in women after they have a baby. As usual, doctors treat such patients with the same degree of attention and seriousness because depression is something which can spiral out of hands quickly. Support groups are recommended, one-on-one talk with a therapist and anti-depressants are also suggested. This form of depression is very common but highly stigmatized so can be even more threatening to the health and well being of both mother and baby unless treated.
Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) has nothing to do with chronic illness or the life threatening triggers mentioned above. It is an illness in itself, just like any other. Depression symptoms in bipolar disorder include extreme behavior, similar to those displayed in other forms of depression. A typical symptom of bipolar disorder is swinging from extreme positivity and high energy levels to extreme negativity and low energy levels with little or no warning. The intense mood swings can result in serious repercussions, including harmful behaviour towards self and others.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
This is also called winter depression. The mood swings and behavioral changes mostly occur during winters. The change in weather and shorter days have a strong effect on the patient’s mood and outlook. Even in these cases doctors prescribe the regular medicines and therapy to over this short term illness.
Depression is often shunned and ignored, and at times laughed upon, but the fact is more and more individuals are getting sucked into its vortex. Timely intervention and raised awareness is only possible through recognition of the symptoms and an understanding of the causes. Look around! Do you see anyone who needs help?
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