Depression – The Hidden Struggle

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Depressive disorder, frequently referred to as depression, is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care. Left untreated, depression can be devastating. Fortunately, with early detection, diagnosis and a treatment plan consisting of medication, psychotherapy and healthy lifestyle choices, many people can get better.

Some will only experience one depressive episode in a lifetime, but for most, depressive disorder recurs. Without treatment, episodes may last a few months to several years.

TYPES OF DEPRESSION

Major depression:

Characterized by deep sense of unhappiness and a lack of interest in things you used to enjoy like hobbies, friends, etc.

Bipolar disorder:

Characterized by alternating periods of depression and elation. The high periods are called Mania.

Symptoms

Depression can present different symptoms, depending on the person. Common symptoms include:

  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
  • Changes in movement (less activity or agitation)
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts

Causes

Depression does not have a single cause. It can be triggered by a life crisis, physical illness or something else—but it can also occur spontaneously. Scientists believe several factors can contribute to depression:

  • Trauma. When people experience trauma at an early age, it can cause long-term changes in how their brains respond to fear and stress. These changes may lead to depression.
  • Genetics. Mood disorders, such as depression, tend to run in families.
  • Life circumstances. Marital status, relationship changes, financial standing and where a person lives influence whether a person develops depression.
  • Brain changes. Imaging studies have shown that the frontal lobe of the brain becomes less active when a person is depressed. Depression is also associated with changes in how the pituitary gland and hypothalamus respond to hormone stimulation.
  • Other medical conditions. People who have a history of sleep disturbances, medical illness, chronic pain, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to develop depression. Some medical syndromes (like hypothyroidism) can mimic depressive disorder. Some medications can also cause symptoms of depression.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse. Approximately 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have depression. This requires coordinated treatment for both conditions, as alcohol can worsen symptoms.

Treatments

Although depressive disorder can be a devastating illness, it often responds to treatment. The key is to get a specific evaluation and treatment plan. Safety planning is important for individuals who have suicidal thoughts. After an assessment rules out medical and other possible causes, a patient-centered treatment plans can include any one or a combination of the following:

  • Psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy and interpersonal therapy.
  • Medications including antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications.
  • Exercise can help with prevention and mild-to-moderate symptoms.
  • Brain stimulation therapies can be tried if psychotherapy and/or medication are not effective.
  • Light therapy, which uses a light box to expose a person to full spectrum light in an effort to regulate the hormone melatonin.
  • Alternative approaches including acupuncture, meditation, faith and nutrition can be part of a comprehensive treatment plan, but do not have strong scientific backing.

CELEBS WHO HAVE BATTLED DEPRESSION

  • Manisha Koirala – She suffered from clinical depression and is also a survivor of cancer.
  • Yo Yo Honey Singh – There is a reason why we have been missing his peppy songs for a while. During that time, he was suffering from bipolar disorder. He shared his storywith his fans recently, just like a true rockstar.
  • Shah Rukh Khan – He suffered from depression ailment post his shoulder surgery in 2010.
  • Deepika Padukone – This Bollywood beauty not only opened about herself being suffering from depression in a TV interview but also took a step ahead to establish a centre for mental health to help people going through the same phase.
  • Varun Dhawan – Not many of us know but actor Varun Dhawan revealed that he was battling from depression while shooting the movie, Badlapur.
  • Ileana D’Cruz – She talked about her struggle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, anxiety and depression and how constant help and support from family and friends help her during tough times.

Depression and College Students

A lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and not enough exercise are a recipe for depression among college students. The stress that comes with academia — including financial worries, pressure to get a good job after school, and failed relationships — is enough to force some students to leave college or worse.Depression is the biggest risk factor for suicidal youth. Other risk factors include:

  • substance abuse
  • a family history of depression and mental illness
  • a prior suicide attempt
  • stressful life events
  • access to guns
  • exposure to other students who have died as a result of suicide
  • self-harming behaviors such as burning or cutting

Treating depression in college students

College is a stressful environment for most young people, therefore it’s especially important for parents, friends, faculty, and counselors to get involved if they suspect a student is suffering from depression.

The best treatments for college-aged students with depression are usually a combination of antidepressant medications and talk therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy. Depressed students are also more likely to benefit from exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough rest than many other groups.

So depression is completely a normal thing. It’s a biological problem. More and more people should talk openly about it. There is nothing shameful about it or something to hide. If you had a constant stomach pain, wouldn’t you go to the doctor? It’s that simple. So in my view, people should make this a mission, to take any shame out of talking this in open, and educate people about the causes and ways to come out of depression and live a happy life.

 

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