Depression is a real illness.
In depression person feels excessively sad, tired, devoid of energy, negative and hopeless most of the time. The severity and intensity of this may be disproportionate to the stress she is facing. Person may recognize that she is being unnecessarily negative but cannot stop from falling into the loop of negative thoughts.
There may be associated attacks of severe anxiety, with increased heart beat
This affects persons ability to carry out daily activities effectively. Every task seems like an effort.
Many times, the person may seem to go about her activities regularly and may even be smiling but for the person it is quite a task.
How is it different from sadness?
Sadness is a normal emotional reaction to unpleasant situations and passes with a little time. Sadness generally doesn’t affect the ability to perform activities.
You are not alone
It is estimated that in India 10-15% of people will suffer from depression in their lifetime. It can affect men and women and also children, adolescents, and the elderly.
What causes depression?
How we think, feel and behave is controlled by our brain chemicals. Depression is a medical illness related to imbalance in working of the brain chemical serotonin. Individual personality and stress can contribute. This can have a cascading effect on both mental and physical health.
Does Depression affect physical health?
YES. Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart disease, Psoriasis, Thyroid problems, Parkinsons have higher chance of depression and affects recovery.
What are the risks if Depression is not treated?
Depression is one of the most important causes of suicide (around 10%). Some people may increase use of drugs like alcohol/smoking as self medication. The loss of productivity, distress and loss of confidence can be significant
What is the treatment?
Treatment involves correction of the brain chemical imbalance by medications and addressing individual vulnerabilities, breaking the negative thought cycle by psychotherapy. Generally combination of medication and psychotherapy works best.
Newer brain stimulation modalities such as tDCS, rTMS are also now available to help stimulate the depressed brain circuits.
If you feel depressed
- Remember it is a temporary phase.
- Avoid any new mental tasks, postpone important decisions for few weeks.
- Focus on the present and not on the past or future.
- Seek Professional help from a licensed mental health professional.
How can you help as a relative/friend
- Be supportive and respect their distress.
- Let them know you are available when they need you.
- Avoid giving advice and suggestions.
Some myths and facts
– Depression is not just sadness. It is a real medical illness
– Depression are of different types and some may not need medication. Your doctor will help you decide
– Antidepressant medications are not habit forming
– These are not sleeping pills
– These don’t need to be taken life long
– Antidepressants are slow acting and need 2-3 weeks to take effect