Today, the word ‘depression’ is associated with a lot of myths. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by prevailing low mood and a feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It does not end in days rather takes months to go away, therefore, it can be said that it is a persistent problem, not a passing one, lasting on average 6 to 8 months. Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities that a person, in general, loves doing. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Being depressed often feels like carrying a very heavy burden, but you are not alone in this struggle. Millions of Indians suffer from some form of depression every year, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the country. It is imperative to know more about depression as often, lack of understanding results in absolute beliefs in myths related to it. Gaining a deeper understanding of depression can help begin the journey to recovery. Taking some time to learn more about the causes and symptoms of depression will assist you greatly when it comes time to consider methods of treatment. Depression is more than just feeling sad.
Everyone feels upset or unmotivated from time to time, but depression is more serious. It is not just a general, low mood swing rather a detailed problem with associated branches of symptoms. It is a mood disorder characterized by prolonged feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. If these symptoms persist for a period of at least two weeks, it is considered a depressive episode. Depression can range from mild to severe. Doctors used to call the milder forms “dysthymia” if it lasted for at least 2 years in adults (1 year in children and teens). Now, it’s called “persistent depressive disorder.” Everyone feels sad or blue now and then. Those are normal emotions. Depression is different. If it lasts more than 2 weeks and doesn’t lift, or if you start to notice other physical symptoms such as changes in sleep, appetite, or energy, seek help. You could start with your regular doctor or a mental health professional.
Symptoms of Depression
Common symptoms of depression are listed below. It is not healthy to ignore these symptoms as if not treated for long, these might result in something even more severe and serious.
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
Common Myths Related To Depression
1. Mostly, Only Women Face It
It is true that women have reported more cases of depression as compared to men. But this does not mean that there isn’t any depression in men, it’s just that men don’t talk about it as often as women. In the U.S., four times as many men die by suicide than women. Some men believe that talking about their emotions is silly or pathetic. Some men avoid treatments for depression in fear that they will no longer appear masculine or strong. Some signs of depression in men are different than in women. But, ‘Mostly, Only Women Face Depression’ is a myth.
2. Depression Is Normal
Clinical depression is an extremely serious condition that causes those who suffer from it to withdraw from loved ones, take dangerous risks or even start conflicts with others. It requires treatment to manage and overcome. The fact that depression can lead directly to thoughts or actions of a suicidal nature make depression a very big deal.
3. Only Medication Can Treat It
It is true that medication is a biochemical method to treat depression but it is not the only method. Medication is only one type of depression treatment. There are other methods too and therapy is one of them. Research shows that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is especially effective in helping people with depression. Therapy includes talking one-on-one with a licensed therapist that listens and guides you to find your own answers. Therapy can also occur in groups or couples. These therapists work to identify the things in your life that affect your depression and help you to understand how to improve those issues. A medical professional will discuss the various depression treatment options available. This treatment could be a combination of medication and therapy. Generally, the combination of antidepressant medication and CBT are the most effective in treating depression. Many people have to try different combinations of treatment before they find the one that works best for them.
4. Depression And Sadness Are The Same
Having a bad day or mood/feeling down and being depressed are two starkly different things. It is true that depression can be brought on by feelings of sadness, but feeling down doesn’t last as long as depression does. Depression can last from a few weeks to an entire year. Unlike sadness, depression usually doesn’t go away on its own. People with depression have many other emotions other than feeling sad. They can feel anxious, tense, empty and experience other negative emotions. Depression also does not go away with time or encouragement from friends and loved ones like sadness does. Sadness does not require treatment whereas depression does.
Natural Ways To Fight Depression
Spending time with nature, taking in fresh air and exercising starts a biological cascade of events that results in many health benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and diabetes, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure. High-intensity exercise releases the body’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins. But for most of us, the real value is in low-intensity exercise sustained over time. That kind of activity initiates the release of proteins called neurotrophic or growth factors, which cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections. The improvement in brain function makes you feel better. According to research, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain—the region that helps regulate mood—is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which further helps relieve depression.
2. Talk It Out
According to research, talk therapy, or psychotherapy, can help treat depression. Talk therapy can help you learn about depression and find ways to manage your symptoms.
If you have mild to moderate depression, talk therapy might be all you need to feel better. But if you have more severe depression, you might benefit from medication in addition to talk therapy. But nevertheless, talking it out always helps. It will make you feel better and less tensed. Talk your family, friends and loved and dear ones, it will always help.
3. Eat A Good Meal
Good food always makes one feel happy. But if you are facing depression, it is advisable to watch what you eat. If depression tends to make you overeat, getting in control of your eating will help you feel better. Research has shown that foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado) help ease depression.
4. Get Good Sleep
Depression can make it hard to get enough sleep, and too little of it can make depression worse. What can you do? Start by making some changes to your lifestyle. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try not to nap. Take all the distractions out of your bedroom — no computer and no TV. In time, you may find your normal and healthy sleep schedule kick in.
Remember, depression is a treatable condition, and there is no shame in seeking help. By incorporating these strategies into your life, you can take steps to manage your symptoms and improve your overall well-being.