Depression is a clinical syndrome that is characterized mostly by sadness. Check out its signs, types, causes and treatment by an expert. Read on.
Depression is known as a mood disorder or syndrome that is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss, bad mood, grief, irritation, anger or even suicidal thoughts. These classifications sometimes exceed the limit and start bothering an individual's day to day life. And not just for some time, this depressive condition may stay for many years or even for lifetime. It is a common clinical syndrome that is not gender and age specific and can hit anyone, anytime.
People experience depression in distinct ways. It may even have a negative impact on your professional and personal life as well. It is important for close family and friends to understand if their loved one is suffering from depression. And, the patient also has to realise if they are feeling extremely sad lately or going through a difficult phase of life since a long time. However, it is also essential to visit a doctor immediately for diagnosis and treatment, if you are dealing with depression. Depression is considered as a serious medical condition that can get worse if left untreated. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Manish Jain, Consultant Psychiatrist, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, Pusa Road, Delhi, about the types, symptoms, causes, complications and treatment of depression.
The breakdown of depression types is done on the basis of time period, severity and episodes of the condition. It varies from person to person. Majorly, the two main types of depression are:
1. Major depressive disorder
Major depressive disorder is the more severe kind of depression. It is diagnosed by consistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that do not go away on their own. It takes around 5 months to diagnose this type of depression.
2. Persistent depressive disorder
Persistent depressive disorder, which is also called dysthymia, is a milder, but chronic, form of depression. The symptoms of PDD may even last for atleast two years to have a clear diagnosis. It can have an even more adverse effect on your life than major depression as it lasts for a longer period of time.
Depression is a clinical syndrome in which there is a collection of signs and symptoms. The first one is persistent and pervasive sadness, which means it should be over a duration of time, and across situations. This is the first and foremost criteria. Other symptoms are feeling lack of energy, feeling fatigued easily, not being able to enjoy things not feeling happy about things, lack of physical energy, sleep disturbance appetite disturbance consequent to which, there can be weight loss, decreased concentration and not being able to memorize things. If the severity of depression increases, people start experiencing hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness. Sometimes there are also suicidal thoughts. So, if people have 3-4 symptoms, it is called mild depression, if there are 4-7 symptoms, it is called moderate and greater than 7 means severe depression.
Essentially these symptoms should be there for a period of more than two weeks. In a situation where a person is supposed to laugh or enjoy, but is not able to do the same, or during certain pleasurable activities like physical intimacy, or eating a good meal, or visiting a place where they used to feel happy and not being to enjoy the situation is generally a descriptive indicator of depression. According to Dr. Jain, here are all the depression signs explained in more detail:
One of the most common and foremost symptoms that one experiences in depression is hopelessness. Hopelessness is a situation in which a person feels that there is no hope left and the circumstances in life are never going to change, the condition will not improve.
Helplessness is a situation in which a person feels that neither the doctor nor the family members or other people that they are connected to will be able to help them.
Worthlessness is a feeling in which people feel that they are not required, their efforts are not important. No matter what they do, their actions are not of importance to anyone.
4. Suicidal thoughts
Lastly, death wishes are also possible in which people feel that their lives are not worth living and they feel that it is better to die. There can be suicidal ideas or thoughts of self-harm. When the severity increases, people even start planning to find ways to harm themselves.
According to Dr. Manish, "There are no causes of depression as such, but there are biopsychosocial models in psychiatry, in which it basically means that the biology of the body is affected, is, neurochemicals in the body such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin or norepinephrine are low in levels, psycho means the psychological makeup- of the patient, the difference mechanisms that the patient employs to deal with things like stress, and social means the socio-environmental factors such as being in a stressful environment, being in situations of constant pressure. So, the mix of all these three things would decide whether in a particular situation, a person is depressed or not."
Everything in the body is interconnected to each other. There are patients who have depression along with hypertension, diabetes or other issues that do not respond to medication, and there are many conditions in which the brain or the mind plays an active role in medical conditions, which are called psychosomatic conditions. The severity of those conditions would increase by multiple folds when a person is also suffering from depression, in addition to the main condition that they are suffering from. Even patients who are recovering from surgery, who are recovering from chemotherapy, or oncological surgery, would take a longer time or won't recover completely. The direct consequence would be the loss of quality of life, loss of productivity, and if the depression is severe enough, it may lead to suicide.
As per Dr. Manish, "In mild depression, the treatment is that the person can go for psychotherapy and medication. In moderate to severe depression, the protocol is that we should go for medication, and psychotherapy is optional which doctors can use later. The patients can pick and choose and decide how to proceed." In fact, there are some lifestyle modifications that can help in coping up with the condition. They are:
1. Regular physical exercise
Physical exercises such as weight lifting, brisk walking, yoga can help with the condition. Certain studies have indicated that there are certain parts of the brain which are activated by physical exercise which can help drastically with depression.
2. Picking a hobby
Alternatively, colour therapy, picking up a hobby, and keeping yourself occupied can also help. An individual can try being engaged in some activity or hobby like painting, dancing, drawing, or whatever makes your mind relaxed and happy. This is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety and depression.
3. Healthy diet
Having unhealthy food is not good for your body and mind as well. A healthy diet plays a major role in influencing your mood at a particular time. Therefore, you have to eat nutritious food like fruits and vegetables and also the items that make you happy internally. You should also a kid smoking and alcohol consumption.
So, these were the types, symptoms, causes, complications and treatment of depression by Dr. Manish Jain. If you or any of your family member or friends experience the above mentioned signs of depressive disorder, it becomes important to visit a doctor or psychiatrist immediately for further treatment. Besides having prescribed medications and talking to a therapist, you can also try making subtle positive changes in your lifestyle to recover from depression.
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