Feeling depressed is not the same as feeling sad. It is a persistent state of sadness or feeling low that does not change even after a few days, and in fact, may even last for weeks or months on end. A large percentage of people suffer from this without even realizing it!
Is Depression the same as feeling sad?
It is quite normal to feel sad and miserable about things that have been upsetting you. Mostly, these feelings soon disappear after a week at most. Most of us can easily cope with such sad feelings.
Depression however is different. It is not the same as having a ‘bad’ day. It is a persistent state of sadness or feeling low that does not change even after a few days, and in fact, may even last for weeks or months on end. Depression prevents you from leading a normal life. Depression makes you feel very low and in addition, it makes it hard to enjoy things or feel happy.
What is Depression?
Depression is a form of illness that develops in a person’s mind rather than body. It affects a person’s feelings and mood. People who develop this mental illness usually report having a sad and low mood all the time, accompanied by loss of interest and low energy. They also say that they almost never feel happy.
What are the signs of depression?
The most common signs of depression include:
- Experiencing sadness and low moods
- Experiencing feelings of hopelessness and feeling that things will never get any better
- Experiencing feelings of emptiness
- In some cases not experiencing any emotions
- Blaming yourself for everything; guilt
- Having low self-esteem
- Not liking the things that you once liked
- Overeating or not eating enough
- Not finding it easy to fall asleep or oversleeping
- Experiencing feelings of tiredness and feeling run down
- Experiencing feelings of restlessness and not being able to sit still
- Experiencing pains and aches that are not related to any known health problem
Why does a person become depressed?
Sometimes, the reasons for feeling depressed are obvious and plain to see. Things like disappointments and setbacks in life, frustrations, and losing something precious can all make a person feel depressed. Depression can also be caused by multiple reasons including:
- Life events / Negative Circumstances
- Physical illnesses; Cancer and other illnesses that threaten the very existence of a person can cause depression; Prolonged and painful illnesses are another reason for becoming depressed
- Under-active thyroid can cause depression
- Some people are more likely to become depressed because they are more vulnerable to this mental health problem
- Alcohol: Consuming too much alcohol regularly can lead to feeling depressed
- Gender: Women are more likely to experience depression
- Genes: Depression can run in the family and so if one of the parents was affected, then there is big chance that the offspring can also be affected
When does a person become affected by depression?
Depression can affect a person at any time, but there are certain periods when a person is more likely to experience depression. People who are stressed or very upset are more likely to become depressed. Losing a loved one or a job can also make a person feel depressed. Depression may also occur along with an existing health problem. There are two special types of depression, including:
- Postpartum depression which occurs just after a woman gives birth to a baby
- Seasonal Affective Disorder which occurs at particular times of the year, especially during the winter season
It pays to keep in mind that depression is not your fault and that you should not blame yourself for it.
How to cope with depression?
When should I seek professional help?
Do not feel shy about seeking professional help, especially if you suffer from the following symptoms:
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Crying frequently
- Suicidal thoughts
- Lack of interest
- Not wanting to do anything
- Feeling guilty
- Reduced emotional response
If you should notice some of the signs mentioned above, and if you find that feelings of depression and loss of mental and physical energy are taking over so that daily life is disrupted, consult a psychiatrist. If the person seems to give up responsibility for himself/herself and is barely able to care for his/her own basic needs, and if any ideas of suicide are expressed or suspected, seeking help must be immediate.
This is a very effective treatment for depression. It involves making the person talk about his or her problems with a skilled counselor who then tries to teach him or her skills that will allow him or her to deal with their problems more effectively. If you do not know of a counselor, then ask your doctor or medical health practitioner to help you find one.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
This form of treatment aims to check and reduce the symptoms by teaching the person to first identify the symptoms and then correcting cognitive distortions. It also teaches new, alternative thinking about their condition and behave that paves the way for reducing psychological distress.
Short Dynamic Psychotherapy
This form of treatment aims to address existing conflicts, which are thought to be nothing but manifestations of difficulties experienced in early childhood relationships with important attachment figures in the person’s life that lead to disrupted relationships.
Depression can occur because of some changes in neurochemicals of the brain and also lead to it. To rectify these changes, your doctor or psychiatrist will prescribe medications such as anti-depressants.
Anti-depressant medications help to stabilize as well as normalize the working of the brain’s neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters regulate your mood, although it is not clear how they do this. The most common anti-depressants include SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and SNRIs or Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors. They are more often prescribed because they cause side effects.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
If your depression cannot be cured through medication or psychotherapy or a combination of the two, then your doctor may recommend electroconvulsive therapy or shock therapy. ECT administered correctly by trained doctors following recommended guidelines has proven to be effective in very severe depression.
Join Support Groups
It helps to connect with other people who are also experiencing depression. Your doctor or counselor can help you find a good support group with whom to share your problems with. You can also ask others in the group as to how they dealt with their depression. Group emotional support and motivation greatly help you to recover faster from depression.
Certain herbs as well as vitamins are known to help in the treatment of depression. Your doctor or medical health practitioner can help you find out which alternative treatments work and also which ones do not.
Taking care of yourself
It pays to take good care of yourself. Simple things like getting enough sleep at night, relaxing and exercising every day, as well as eating healthy foods can all help you deal with your depression. Avoiding alcohol and drugs is also very highly recommended. Taking a holiday, opening up to family or friends, taking interests in hobbies and other leisure activities can provide relief from immediately negative circumstances.
Is full recovery from depression possible?
Whom should I speak to for help if I feel like committing suicide?
The best person to talk to about is a doctor or mental health practitioner. Alternatively, you can also contact a crisis Helpline to find out more about why you’re depressed and how you can deal with your suicidal thoughts and depression. Suicide is a very real possibility in depression. So, be alert for any signs of suicidal thoughts or intentions that occur repeatedly in your mind. Reach out for help immediately.
If you are feeling severely depressed then you might certainly give direct hints of wanting to die, or you may be seen to be making preparations – making a will, giving away belongings, collecting sleeping pills etc. Guilt and self-blame, feeling of worthlessness and emptiness are more common in those attempting suicide. Suicide is especially common when an alcoholic or drug addict has to deal with a broken relationship. Suicide is more likely in those who have tried it before, especially if precautions were taken to try and avoid discovery and if violent means were used – e.g., fire. Suicide is more common when someone close to the person has died, specially a person losing his or her spouse, mother losing her only son. Old age, unemployment and physical illness make suicide more likely. When a dependent person loses his or her support, suicide is more likely. Whatever the reason that makes you feel like ending your life don’t do anything drastic like attempting suicide! Help is available if you seek it. Solutions can always be worked out with support and understanding.