What is Depression?

Depression is a common and serious illness that affects how you feel, think, and act.Depression causes sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It makes you isolate yourself and it makes you lash out at the people you love.It can lead to various emotional and physical problems and decrease your ability to function at work and home.

How to recognize someone who is experiencing Depression?

Someone who is depressed will say that they feel blue, hopeless, in the dumps, or worthless.Depression is different from feeling sadness or grief, it is often described as an agonizing pain. Persons sometimes cry a lot, while others feel like they can’t cry anymore. It is difficult for someone to enjoy things that they used to enjoy. Working and taking care of themselves and their family might become a difficult task. Focusing becomes difficult. Your mind seems to wander off elsewhere. Most times without realizing, people may think about hurting ourselves, and sometimes they even plan how we will carry this out.

Not everyone with depression looks the same. Some persons are able to mask their emotions well but they always have some change that is observable. Maybe they seem lost in thoughts or disinterested. Maybe they will have changes in the way they move, for example, a depressed person might walk and talk slowly, and might keep their head bent most of the time, they can even walk with a stooped posture.

Children and older people are also affected by depression. With children, we notice that they start doing badly in school, getting into fights and may become disrespectful. Some even turn to drugs. Older people might complain about having pain in their bodies and being unable to sleep or walk.

People with depression tend to have a negative view of life. When you talk to them, they will always mention the bad things rather than the good things that happen and can happen.

Who can be affected by Depression?

Depression can affect anyone—even someone who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances.

Many things cause depression. Sometimes we inherit it and other times we have an imbalance in our brains caused by environmental factors. Our personality also plays a role. People with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be more likely to experience Depression.

Other things in our life such as continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse, or poverty may make some people more vulnerable to Depression.

What are the types of Depression?

There are many different types of Depression.

  1. Depression that happens because people are physically ill.
  2. Depression that happens when people use certain medications that cause chemical imbalances in the brain.
  3. Depression that happens because it runs in the family.
  4. Depression that happens because the person is experiencing several stressful events (at work, at home, in relationships etc.)
  5. Depression that happens when you’ve just had a baby and makes you unable to care yourself and the baby.
  6. Depression that has always been present. You can never remember a time when you’ve been happy.
  7. Depression that happens around the time a woman is about to experience her period/menses.
  8. Depression that causes people to constantly seem like they are in a bad mood. Often times these people explode over little incidents.

Myths and Facts about Depression

Depression results from a sad life event.In clinical depression, a person often feels unhappy without a reason — even if they have what others consider to be an “easy” or a “good” life — due to brain chemistry and risk factors.
Those whose parents have depression will always inherit it from them.This only increases your likelihood of developing the condition. It’s not a guarantee.
Depression only impacts women.Approximately one or two out of every ten men will develop major depression sometime in their life.
Depression is the same thing as just being sad.Sadness and depression are not the same. People who are clinically depressed aren’t just sad. They’re also detached from life, unmotivated, tired, feel hopeless, empty, anxious, suicidal, and uninterested in things that once brought them joy.
Depression isn’t an actual illness.Depression is just as real of a health problem as asthma or cancer. It’s a multifaceted brain disorder that develops out of psychological, social, and biological factors, and it negatively impacts the way a person thinks, feels, and acts.
Having depression makes a person weak.
Depression doesn’t pick and choose its victims based on who is weak and who is strong, and those who develop it don’t have a say in the matter. People facing depression are commonly misjudged as lazy, self-pitying, or simply weak. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Depressed patients face a constant daily battle against their brain chemistry, and it drains all their energy. It has nothing to do with their character or strength.
Antidepressants are the only solution.While they’re commonly effective in treating depression, antidepressants can’t always cure depression on their own. Patients usually need support from their friends and family to supplement the medication. They may also need lifestyle changes.
Antidepressants can cause a change in personality.Antidepressants are designed to balance out the chemicals in your brain so that it functions the way it’s supposed to. Most people feel like a different person when on medication, but in the best way. It helps them function better and helps them feel more normal.
Once you start using antidepressants, you’ll need them forever.The duration of time in which you use antidepressants is decided by your doctor. Most people don’t need antidepressant medication forever because they couple it with therapy. Therapy teaches them new ways to deal with the disorder long term.
Talking about depression will just make it worse.
You may have heard that talking about depression keeps you focused on negative feelings, but that’s not always true. Keeping depressive thoughts to yourself can be much more destructive than sharing them with others.
Depression is all in the person’s head.Depression isn’t a made-up condition, and it’s not limited to the mind. The symptoms are real and often have physical manifestations.
Depressed people can just snap out of it.Someone who has never experienced real depression might think you can cure it with a simple attitude change or a shift to a more positive mindset. What they fail to realize is that depression is not the result of poor attitude or wallowing in negativity. It’s a medically recognized condition that requires treatment from a health care professional to overcome. It’s like telling someone to just walk-off a broken leg.
Depression isn’t that big of a deal.Mental health disorders are just as big of a deal as physical conditions. Depression can lead to substance abuse, loss of enjoyment of life, social withdrawal, drastic weight gain or loss, and even suicidal thoughts — all of which can keep a person from being able to hold down a job, take care of a family, or fulfill other duties in life.
Children can’t get depression.Again, depression isn’t selective. It can impact any gender, any age group, any socioeconomic class, any ethnicity — anyone. Children tend to display the same symptoms as adults, but in a different way. For example, in the same way an adult withdraws from social settings, a child may struggle to make friends at school.

What can I do if I have Depression?

If you have symptoms of Depression, see your healthcare provider. They can give you an accurate diagnosis, refer you to a specialist or suggest treatment options.

Prepared by Dr. Andria Veeren