According to the World Health Organization (WHO), close to 10% of Nigerians are struggling with one type of depression or the other. Perhaps, the most common misconception about depression is that it’s similar to feeling sad or down. It would interest you to know that some of the most “happy”, active and successful people out there are depressed, but do a good job in masking it because of the stigma associated with mental health-related issues. It is for this reason; we want to talk more about this issue.
This article will serve as a detailed guide for everything you need to know about depression—meaning, types, symptoms, causes and treatment.
What is Depression?
Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It can be described as a perpetual feeling of sadness, loss, or anger that interferes with a person’s daily activities, resulting in lost time and lower productivity.
It’s worthy of note that depression is an ongoing problem, not a passing one. It consists of episodes during which the symptoms last for several weeks, months, or even years.
Types of Depression
There are four main types: persistent depressive disorder and major depressive disorder. Let’s take a closer look at each:
1. Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
Persistent depressive disorder is also known as dysthymia. It is considered a somewhat mild depression that lasts for at least two years before a diagnosis can be made. People battling with PDD tend to feel hopeless and also lose interest in regular daily activities.
2. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Major depressive disorder is also known as clinical depression. It’s a severe medical condition that can affect many areas of your life. It impacts mood and behavior as well as various physical functions, such as appetite and sleep.
To be diagnosed with MDD, you must experience the following symptoms for at least 2 weeks:
- Loss of interest in most regular activities
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Sleeping disorder
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Recurring suicidal thoughts
3. Postpartum Depression
While the birth of a baby brings unquantifiable joy, it may also lead to postpartum depression, a type of depression that affects one in four women. Hormonal changes, fatigue and lifestyle changes trigger postpartum depression.
Also, note that intense feelings of anxiety, exhaustion and sadness may sometimes provoke thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby.
4. Bipolar Depression
Drastic swings in mood and energy, from elation to hopelessness, are pointers to bipolar depression, which is also known as bipolar disorder.
To be diagnosed with this type of depression, a person must have experienced at least one bout of violent outburst or mania.
Symptoms of Depression
When it comes to symptoms of depression, the first thing you have to know is that symptoms slightly vary in men, women and children. But generally, depressive symptoms are evident in:
The mood of a depressed person is usually that of anger, aggressiveness, anxiousness, sadness, hopelessness, restlessness and irritability.
Someone struggling with depression tend to exhibit loss of interest in favorite activities, tiredness, suicidal thoughts, as well as excessive drinking and drug usage.
3. Cognitive abilities
People battling with one type of depression or the other tend to find it difficult to concentrate, and complete tasks, as well as delay response during conversations.
4. Sexual interest
Reduced sexual desire and performance are pointers to depression, particularly for men.
5. Physical well-being
When someone struggles with constant loss of energy, digestive problems, loss of appetite, weight loss or gain, and insomnia, consider diagnosing the person for depression.
Causes of Depression
A number of biological and circumstantial factors are responsible for depression. Let’s dive deeper into these factors:
1. Family History
The likelihood of developing depression is higher if you come from a family with a history of depression or mood disorder.
2. Early Childhood Trauma
Some events affect the way your body reacts to fear and stressful situations. People who experienced some form of childhood trauma tend to be depressed from a young age.
3. Medical Conditions
Having health conditions such as chronic illness, insomnia, chronic pain, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may put you at a higher risk of depression.
4. Drug/Alcohol Misuse
Having a history of drug or alcohol misuse increases your likelihood of being depressed. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), over 21% of persons struggling with drug/alcohol abuse experience depression.
Treatment for Depression
Living with depression can be difficult, but thankfully, depression can be managed or treated by mental health experts. Here are some proven ways of treating depression:
Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants, antianxiety or antipsychotic medications for you to treat your depressive symptoms. But bear in mind that all medications available for treating depression come with potential risks, so ensure you follow the prescription of your doctor when taking them.
Speaking with a therapist can help you develop coping strategies to manage your negative emotions and self-defeating thoughts.
Also, a therapist or clinical psychologist can help you understand different factors affecting your physical and mental wellbeing.
While medications and therapy can be effective in managing depression, you don’t need them in all cases. Self-help strategies like exercising, journaling and meditation can prove useful in managing some types of depression.
Besides ignorance, the major reasons people tend to neglect their mental health are because of the stigma and stress associated with seeking treatment. But fortunately, telemedicine is here to solve those problems.
With a telemedicine service provider like HealthConnect 24×7, people struggling with depression and other mental health issues no longer need to suffer in silence when they can consult with a doctor or clinical psychologist from the comfort of their home, office, or on the go!