What is Depression?
- A mental disorder that presents with feelings of extreme sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, and poor concentration.
- It can affect people regardless of age, gender, race, religion, and socio-economic status.
- Often comes with symptoms of anxiety.
Causes of Depression:
- Exact cause is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetics and life experiences.
- Difficult life experiences, i.e. loss of a parent in childhood, death of a loved one, termination of employment, or chronic illness, may increase the risk of depression.
- Certain personality patterns, i.e. difficulty handling stress, low self-esteem, extreme pessimism, may be contributing factors.
- Lack of support system may increase the risk for the disorder.
Normal Sadness and Depression:
1.1 Normal Sadness – Natural adaptive reaction to adverse life events; transient feeling that easily passes; and a person may feel bad, but continues to cope with life.
1.2 Depression – “Dysfunctional” response to adverse life events; can linger to weeks, months, or even years; person with clinical depression may feel overwhelmed and hopeless; and mental illness with many more symptoms than an unhappy mood.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopeless, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Changes in sleep patterns: insomnia, early morning wakening or oversleeping
- Appetite and weight changes
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders or chronic pain
- Thought of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
NOTE: It you, or someone you know, is experiencing five or more of the above symptoms, over a period of two weeks, or longer, you may have depression.
It is important to talk with a mental health professional.
Types of Depression:
Clinically, there are three primary types of depression:
- Major Depression (also known as unipolar depression)
- Minor Depression (often known as dysthymia; a less severe and often chronic depression
- Bipolar Disorder (also known as manic depression; periods of depressive cycle with periods of mania)
- One out of ten people suffer from major depression (Kessler, et al., 1994)
- By 2020, depression will be the 2nd leading cause of world disability (WHO, 2001)
- By 2030, it is expected to be the largest contributor to disease burden (WHO, 2008)
- Estimated 121 million people worldwide are affected by depression (WHO, 2001)
Interventions for Clinical Depression:
- Medications – There are many different kinds of medications used to treat depression. They are often called antidepressants.
- Psychotherapy – Also known as talk therapy or counseling.
- Traditional or Alternative Healing Methods – This includes establishing regular exercise patterns; increasing exposure to light (for winter depression); nutritional supplements; relaxation exercises and meditation; acupuncture.
- Brain Stimulation Therapies – medical procedures that involve activating or touching the brain directly with electricity, magnets or implants to treat depression.
- Treatment Research – Researchers continue to seek better and safer treatments for depression. Researchers are also seeking treatments that work more quickly to reduce symptoms of depression, particularly severe and treatment resistant depression.
Reference: Philippine Mental Health Association, Inc (The blogger is a member of Philippine Mental Health Association, and currently taking up Master of Arts in Education Majoring in Administration and Supervision, An Advocate of Mental Health)