Depression is a common mood disorder which displays persistent feelings of loss of interest and sadness in things which a person once enjoyed. It can also display difficulty in sleeping, eating, thinking and memorizing. While it is absolutely normal to feel sad in a difficult situation such as loss of a loved one, divorce or being out of a job, if the feelings persist day in and day out, for more than two weeks, then the symptoms reflect a major depressive disorder. Depression is a mental health condition, which is often misunderstood. If left untreated, it can get worse and linger on for an extended period of time. Recognising the symptoms and providing prompt treatment can be very effective in controlling the symptoms of depression.
What are the Warning Signs?
If you are wondering if you might be depressed, knowing the common signs of depression and its effects, can help you in figuring out if you are experiencing something more than just a brief brush of the blues.
According to a 2017 study by the Journal of Active Disorders, no two people with the same type of depression display exactly the same symptoms. However, there are several signs which are common.The ten most prevalent are:
1. Persistent Low Mood
A person with a significantly depressed mood may show feelings of emptiness, sadness and hopelessness. Depression can also manifest in bursts of anger and irritability.
Some people with depression describe themselves as feeling numb.” They may have difficulty mustering up an emotional response to things that happen to them-whether good or bad” says Bethany Juby,a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Juby Clinical Services,LLC. (Bethany Juby,PsyD updated on June 7,2021)
2. Loss of Interest in Things you Once Enjoyed
If “what’s the point” is a phrase which crops up every now and then for a few weeks straight, then even the simplest of household chores like dusting, cleaning, gardening will begin to look pointless.
Hanging out in the coffee shop with friends or missing out on DIY projects which you energy enjoyed might not appeal to you if you have depression. You may not have the or the inclination to do them.
3. Feeling of Worthlessness
People who are depressed feel that they are failing to contribute anything worthwhile to the world and others don’t care a damn if they exist.
This feeling may have been precipitated by a dramatic real life event,like loss of job, financial loss or breaking up of a relationship. You might also experience low self-esteem and even loathe yourself at times.
Apart from emotional symptoms, depression can cause physical let-down as well by mimicking other health conditions. Symptoms may include feeling bone-tired and low in energy, despite getting enough sleep and rest.
This mental and physical exhaustion makes the person feel that things are moving in slow motion and experience catatonia, which gives the feeling of being perpetually in a “paused state of mind”.
5. Sleep Disturbance
A frequent symptom of depression is insomnia caused by the disturbance in the ratio of rapid eye movement sleep to non REM sleep.
A report published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience cites that 75% of patients who are depressed suffer from insomnia, and excessive sleepiness, or hypersomnia is present in 40% of younger adults.
Both symptoms lead to high distress,have a major impact on the quality of life and are strong risk factors which can lead to suicide.
6. Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal thoughts occur when depression leads to someone ruminate on not wanting to live anymore. Signs on contemplating suicide can come in the form of notes or drawings.
These are serious symptoms and should not be overlooked and indicate that it is the time to seek help.
7. Reckless Behavior
Some people who are depressed resort to compulsive gambling, or engaging in any other reckless activity like substance abuse or driving recklessly which can lead to serious consequences.
Ultimately,you may end up doing things you never thought of doing before like stealing money or running up huge debts only to satisfy your gambling urges.
8. Low Sex Drive
A primary symptom of depression is the inability to enjoy things which one normally did before, including sex.People suffering from depression who feel bad about themselves,also view their partner negatively,all signs that impact sex drive.
Says Jennifer Payne,M.D. director at John Hopkins,” Change in sex drive is a key symptom when we look at when deciding if someone fits the diagnosis for major depression episodes”.
9. Cognitive Dysfunction
Depressed persons display signs of cognitive dysfunction such as disturbance in memory, verbal fluency, attention and processing speed.
An Annual Review of Clinical Psychology report suggests that people who show symptoms of depression have difficulty in disengaging from negative thoughts and have deficits in cognitive control when processing these thoughts.
10. Digestive Problems
A 2015 study data indicates that emotional stress and depression may influence the development of gastrointestinal disorders. Discomfort in the chest or abdomen caused dyspepsia, irritable bowel movements and reflux esophagitis.
Depression also showed links with stomach ulcers and cancer of the colon and the stomach.
Why is Depression a Serious Problem?
Depression may be seen as a common mental disorder, but is the world’s leading cause of disability and contributes to a large extent to the burden of diseases worldwide.
If left untreated,the effects of depression can last over a long period of time and can drastically affect the ability of a person to live a fulfilling and rewarding life.
Even though psychological and pharmacological treatments are in place to treat depression, support services are often unavailable or undeveloped in low and middle-income countries.
It is estimated that there are more than 75% people with mental disorders in such countries that have no access to treatment at all.
● Depression is a common mental disorder
● 5% of people globally are affected
● More women are affected than men
● Depression can induce suicidal thoughts
● Mild, moderate and severe depression can be treated effectively
Effective Ways to Treat Depression
Medication and Psychotherapy are two effective ways to treat depression. Psychotherapy,also known as talk therapy provided by clinical psychologists,such as cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT). Meditation, especially antidepressants, are commonly prescribed for depression. Nowadays, these treatments are all available online for only a fraction of the cost.
A Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation therapy for treatment of resistant depression carried out by the University School of Medicine at Stanford University placed a coil on the head of the patient which creates a magnetic field that sends electric pulses through the skull.
The remedy is a type of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation called “Stanford neuromodulation therapy” which applies magnetic technology to up the dose of the stimulation.
Scientists say they have developed an approach that is more effective and works as much as eight times faster than the current approved methods of depression treatment.