“UNDERSTANDING DEPRESSION”

 

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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.

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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)

Depression Facts:

  • 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)

Depression

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.

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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)

 

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