Depression is a serious mental health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It can occur in teenagers, young adults, middle-aged individuals and the elderly, being equally common in both men and women.
When a person is depressed, the mood is negatively influenced, sometimes leading to unpredictable or extreme behaviour. Apart from being unable to engage in day to day activities with a normal approach, the depressed individual tends to feel gloomy, dejected and lose interest quickly. In severe instances, depression can even lead to suicidal thoughts and hence immediate medical attention needs to be sought when a person recognises any signs of depression. Also Read: Depression: Facts & Myths
The exact cause of depression is yet to be determined, but certain changes in bodily mechanisms are the underlying triggers. These include neurotransmitter modifications such as low serotonin levels, hormonal imbalances and even inherited genetic factors from either one or both parents.
Specific health conditions or life events may predispose a person to acquire clinical depression or major depressive disorder, such as:
- Traumatic circumstances, such as physical abuse, loss of a loved one or financial problems
- Chronic disorders affecting productivity and career like obesity, diabetes, heart disease
- Troubled personal relationships with parents, close family members, friends
- Low self-esteem
- Excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs
- The distinctive symptoms of depression comprise the following:
- Feelings of hopelessness, sadness and guilt
- Lack of interest in routine tasks as well as passions and hobbies
- Urge to hurt oneself or end one's own life
- Difficulty concentrating, with occasional forgetfulness
- Irritability and anger for even trivial issues
- Persistent anxiety, worrying about situations that happened in the past
- Being restless and tensed even in familiar surroundings
Diagnosis And Treatment
A psychologist conducts a complete physical exam, along with sampling the blood of the patient, to examine their thyroid hormone levels, body weight fluctuations and any other external indications of depression such as inflicting harm on oneself.
A psychiatric evaluation is then undertaken, to analyse the patient's responses, thoughts and emotions to various situations.
In addition to these mandatory procedures, the doctor also compares the symptoms exhibited by the patient with the ones enlisted in the DSM - 5 i.e. the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, for better accuracy of diagnosis.
Once it is confirmed that the patient is undergoing depression, the healthcare provider at first prescribes antidepressants, which include SSRIs i.e. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. The dosage of these prescription medications depends upon the severity of depression symptoms in the affected individual. Also Read: Escitalopram: Alleviating Depression
Along with strictly adhering to the schedule of consuming these medicines, the patient is also made to go through regular behavioural counselling sessions. The psychologist advises the patient on how to cope with stress and handle tough situations, so as to positively impact their daily productivity and help them regain interest in living life with happiness and enthusiasm.Furthermore, adopting a healthy lifestyle, engaging in yoga, meditation, getting a relaxing massage and talking to friends, family will assist in alleviating low moods and aid the patient in fully recovering from depression.