Ref: CHB/HB/039/15                                                                 


What is Depression?

Feeling sad, or what we may call "DEPRESSED", happens to all of us. The sensation usually passes after a while. However, people with a depressive disorder - clinical depression - find that their state interferes with daily life.
For people with clinical depression, their normal functioning is undermined to such an extent that both they and those who care about them are affected by it.
Depression can lead to emotional and physical problems. Typically, people with depression find it hard to go about their day-to-day activities, and may also feel that life is not worth living.
The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million people throughout the world suffer from depression. They state that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Types of Depression:-

There are several forms of depression (depressive disorders). Major Depressive Disorder & Dysthymic Disorder are the most common.

  1. Major depressive disorder (major depression) 
  2. Dysthymic Disorder (dysthymia) 
  3. Psychotic depression
  4. Postpartum depression (postnatal depression) 
  5. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
  6. Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness)

Signs & Symptoms of Depression:-

Depression is not uniform. Signs and symptoms may be experienced by some sufferers and not by others. How severe the symptoms are, and how long they last depends on the individual person and his illness.

Below is a list of the most common symptoms:


  1. A constant feeling of sadness, anxiety, and emptiness
  2. A general feeling of pessimism sets in (the glass is always half empty)
  3. The person feels hopeless
  4. Individuals can feel restless
  5. The sufferer may experience irritability
  6. Patients may lose interest in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed
  7. Levels of energy feel lower, fatigue sets in
  8. Many people with a depressive illness find it hard to concentrate, remember details, and make decisions
  9. Sleep patterns are disturbed - the person may sleep too little or too much
  10. Eating habits may change - he/she may either eat too much or have no appetite
  11. Suicidal thoughts may occur - some may act on those thoughts
  12. The sufferer may complain more of aches and pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems. These problems do not get better with treatment.


What causes depression?

Nobody is sure what causes depression. Experts say depression is caused by a combination of factors, such as the person's genes, their biochemical environment, personal experience and psychological factors.

The Stanford School of Medicine:-

Says that genes do play a role in causing depression. By studying cases of major depression among identical twins (whose genes are 100% identical) and non-identical twins (whose genes are 50% identical) they found that heritability is a major contributory factor in the risk of developing depression.
An article in Harvard health Publications:-
Explains that depression is not caused simply by the level of one chemical being too low and another too high. Rather, several different chemicals are involved, working both within and outside nerve cells. There are "Millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life."
An awful experience can trigger a depressive illness. For example, the loss of a family member, a difficult relationship, physical sexual abuse.
Lifestyle changes are simple but powerful tools in treating depression. Sometimes they might be all you need. Even if you need other treatment, lifestyle changes go a long way towards helping lift depression. And they can help keep depression at bay once you are feeling better.
Lifestyle Changes that can Treat Depression:-
Exercise: -
Regular exercise can be as effective at treating depression as medication. Even a half-hour daily walk can make a big difference. For maximum results, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity on most days.
Nutrition: -
Eating well is important for both your physical and mental health. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings.
Sleep: -
Sleep has a strong effect on mood. When you don't get enough sleep, your depression symptoms will be worse. Sleep deprivation exacerbates irritability, moodiness, sadness, and fatigue. Aim for somewhere between 7 to 9 hours each night.
Social support: -
Keep in regular contact with friends and family, or consider joining a class or group. Volunteering is a wonderful way to get social support and help others while also helping you.
Stress reduction: -
Make changes in one’s life to help manage and reduce stress. Too much stress exacerbates depression and puts one at risk for future depression. Take the aspects of one’s life that stress you out, such as work overload or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to minimize their impact.

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