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Depression is a word or term that is used very frequently within our society today. The term itself can be ‘diluted’ when individuals often state “Oh I am so depressed today” when in reality what they should be saying is “I feel a little low today”. The reason this conept is being introduced is because how we phrase or state things to others may reinforce our self-diagnosis, which can hinder and exacerbate our low mood and its recovery. Certainly, life events such as if you fail an important examination, lose a loved one or a job, or break up in a relationship, it is normal to feel depressed. But if you remain depressed for more than two to three weeks after the event has passed, then you may have a common clinical disorder called 'depression'.
It's important to emphasise that in Turn2Me, we take every person’s belief of themselves seriously and we also want to state that when something occurs in your life, such as the examples provided above, no two people will experience the after-effects in the same way. Loss, grief, or unexpected disruption to consistency can have a detrimental impact on one’s life, yet for others they may appear to recover and re-engage with life in a very short timeframe. Clinical depression is characterized by a sad or blue mood that affects nearly every aspect of your every day life – your family and social relationships, your work or school performance, even your desire to do simple things such as exercise or go out with friends.
Depression is much more than just a bad mood, though. Countless people in the throes of depression often feel worthless, lack any appetite, withdraw from friends and family, have difficulty sleeping, and can become agitated or lethargic. Most worrisome of all, people who are depressed can often have suicidal thoughts and feelings. But depression, even though it often feels like it for a person who is depressed, is not the end of the world. It is one of the most well-understood and readily treated and treatable mental disorders. Learning more about this issue is an important and courageous first step toward ending feelings of sadness and depression.
What Causes Depression?
Like most mental disorders, the causes of depression are largely unknown. Researchers and clinicians theorize that depression is the result of three related factors – biological, psychological and social. No doctor can tell you how much of any single factor is contributing to the diagnosis of depression within an individual. For some people, the biological factors, such as genetics, may be stronger than the other two. For others, it may be caused mainly by a psychological issue, such as one’s personality or way of coping with stress. Theories about biological causes include ideas such as a chemical imbalance in the brain, or that some people carry a genetic predisposition to depression based upon certain genes inherited from one’s parents. Theories about psychological causes include ideas such as there is an internal dialogue that reinforces our negative beliefs about ourselves or our abilities, or that some people never learn adequate coping skills as they are growing up. Theories about social causes include ideas such as a person may have had difficulty establishing social skills in childhood, or have few or no friends or family connections as an adult.
What are Some of the Risk Factors for Depression?
A risk factor is something that may increase your chances of getting depression or a similar condition. The risk factors for depression include:
• Having previous episodes of depression or another mental disorder (such as anxiety, a sleep disorder, or a personality disorder)
• Any life-altering or stressful event in your life (including both negative ones, such as the death of a loved one, or positive ones, such as the birth of a child or a wedding)
• A family history of depression (or some other mental disorders within your family)
• Being a woman or elderly person
• Chronic illness of any kind
• Low self-esteem or having no or few friends
• Feeling helpless or having little control over a situation in your life
Symptoms of Depression
A person who suffers from a major depressive disorder either have a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily actvities consistently for at least a 3 week period. This mood change affects a person across all aspects of their life – social, work, school and such.
Clinical depression is characterise by the presence of most of these symptoms in a person, experienced nearly every day:
• A depressed mood most of the day, as indicated by either the person’s own feeling (e.g., feeling sad or empty) or as observed by others (e.g., appears tearful). In children and adolescents, this may be characterized as an irritable mood.
• Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day
• Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite
• Can’t sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much (hypersomnia)
• Can’t sit still (psychomotor agitation) or have difficulty with physical movement (psychomotor retardation)
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
• Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
• Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
Certain medications or medical conditions can cause symptoms like depression, but depression is generally not diagnosed when the symptoms can be traced back to a specific medication or medical condition.
Help for Depression
If unsure of where to go for help and you’re afraid that you may be suffering from depression, there are many opportunities to find help for diagnosis and treatment of this concern. All mental disorders — including depression — benefit from treatment. And today more than ever, treatments are well-tolerated and time-limited. A FIRST stop might be to check online what service providers are available to you. TurnMme is a worldwide mental health support provider and is only one click away. You may consider just posting a thought on our Thought Catcher or you might prefer to join a group of like-minded individuals, facilitated by someone who knows what depression is and is not. Indeed, you may prefer to speak to someone through online counselling in a one-to-one setting . Turn2Me provides all three of these options to you.
Listed below are the types of people and places that we will make a referral to, or who provide diagnostic and treatment services for depression. Remember, too, that your family physician or general practitioner may also be able to help refer you to a mental health professional for treatment. Although many people receive treatment for depression from their family doctor, a mental health professional — such as a psychiatrist (for medication prescriptions) or counsellor (for therapy) — is the better choice.
• Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, or therapists
• Community mental health centres
• Your family doctor or intern
• Clinical social worker
• Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
• University- or medical school-affiliated programmes
• Local hospital outpatient clinics
• Family service/social agencies
• Private clinics and facilities
• Employee assistance programs
• Local medical and/or psychiatric societies
How to Help Yourself if You Are Depressed
Depressive disorders make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression and typically do not accurately reflect the situation. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. In the meantime:
• Set realistic goals and assume a reasonable amount of responsibility.
• Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can.
• Try to be with other people and to confide in someone; it is usually better than being alone and secretive.
• Participate in activities that may make you feel better.
• Mild exercise, going to a movie, a ballgame, or participating in religious, social, or other activities may help.
• Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Feeling better takes time.
• It is advisable to postpone important decisions until the depression has lifted. Before deciding to make a significant transition–change jobs, get married or divorced–discuss it with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
People rarely “snap out of” a depression. But they can feel a little better day by day. Remember, positive thinking will replace the negative thinking that is part of the depression and will disappear as your depression responds to treatment. Let your family and friends help you.
In times of crisis, (Turn2Me is not a crisis intervention service) the emergency room doctor (or a mental health professional) at a hospital may be able to provide temporary help for an emotional problem. Before discharge, the hospital will be able to tell you where and how to get further help.