What Is Depression?
Depression is a mental health disorder that is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in activities, low energy and a lot of negative thoughts. It differs from the related mood disorders guilt and anxiety because it’s not triggered by an event or situation. There are 4 main types of depression:
- Major depressive disorder
- Dysthymic disorder
- Bipolar or manic-depressive disorder
- Postpartum depression
Being in a difficult situation in life is not in itself enough to trigger depression. There are several predisposing factors that can predict the appearance of this health condition such as:
- Genetic factors
- History of depressive episodes in the family
- Stressful events such as death of a loved one or divorce
Not all people with predisposing factors will develop depression, however this doesn’t mean that they are not at risk and it’s important to be aware of these risk factors.
How Does It Affect Your Life?
Depression is associated with about 650,000 deaths per year. Depression can be so severe that it may equip the person who suffers from it to take their own life. The severity of symptoms varies greatly, and in children they may not include a classic “depressed mood,” but rather irritability or boredom.
In adolescents, depression is associated with a drop in grades and truancy at school; additionally, suicide is common in persons under 18 years old. Depressive disorder often remains undiagnosed or untreated in these age groups because of the lack of parental detection, reluctance of youth to seek psychological help, fear of stigma and the belief that depressed youth are just going through a “phase.”
The number of people in the world who suffer from depression is increasing. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over 280 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide, and it is predicted to become the second leading cause of death by 2030. This is a serious problem that we need to take action on.
How Is Depression Treated?
Treatments for depression are many and varied. There are a range of therapies available, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological. The type of treatment that is best for a person will depend on their individual needs and preferences. Some therapies require supervision by a mental health professional, so you should talk to your doctor or counsellor about the various options.
The most common treatment options are depression therapy and counselling, medication and lifestyle changes.
- Therapy and Counselling
This is where a professional therapist or counsellor helps the patient to understand their thoughts and feelings better, leading them to develop healthier ways of coping. Therapy can take place one-to-one with a therapist or it may be in a small group of people all experiencing similar symptoms. Therapy and counselling are also known as psychotherapy.
- Medication For Treating Depression
This is one of the most common types of treatment for depression. There are different types of medication that can be used to treat depression. These include antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. Medicine can help reduce the symptoms of depression and it takes about 4-6 weeks to notice any improvement in mood. Once you start feeling better, your doctor will determine if you need to continue taking medicine for a longer period of time.
There are now various types of antidepressants that work by targeting certain chemicals in the brain that can cause or influence depressive illness. These medications include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
These medications can be useful, but they often have side effects and should not be used without the guidance of a doctor. If first-line medications don’t work, second and third choices should be explored as well as adjunctive options such as:
- Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
- Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)
A combination of these treatments might also be necessary, not just one type of treatment. Some therapies require supervision by a mental health professional, so you should talk to your doctor about the various options available for you.
- Lifestyle Changes
There are a few lifestyle changes that can be made to help improve symptoms of depression. These includes things like exercise, relaxation techniques and a healthy diet.
The following is a list of lifestyle changes, helpful in depression:
- Cut out toxin such as alcohol and cigarettes.
- Increase fiber intake to satisfy hunger and manage weight.
- Replace sugary foods with complex carbs like whole grains and vegetables.
- Begin a regular exercise routine that you can stick with
- Increase probiotic and vitamin supplementation to help with digestion and mood stabilization
- Stay socially active by volunteering or joining a group meetup club so you have something to look forward to every day.
- Create a list of your top ten things you’d want to do if you felt better and start crossing them off
- Get enough sleep – most people need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night.
Try to reduce stress in your life as much as possible. Identify your sources of stress and develop strategies for managing them. If you are having difficulty managing stressful situations, try relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing.
Seek support from family and friends. We all feel down sometimes but depression can make it hard to see the positives around us. Being around other people will help you stay active and connected, which are good for everyone’s health.
Cost of Treatment Options
This is a difficult question to answer because the cost of treatment will vary depending on the person’s individual needs. Some people may only require counselling, while others may need medication and/or hospitalization. The cost of medication will vary depending on the type and dosage. Generally, healthcare for depression can be expensive but it’s important to remember that everyone has the right to access treatment.
There is Government subsidy in place that can help people receive proper care and treatment at public hospitals. Get in touch with us to find out the options available.
Depression is a disorder that can cause a great deal of suffering. It’s not only the depressed person who feels this way, but also other people around them. Many families have been impacted by depression and end up living in fear and embarrassment. Depression may be undiagnosed because parents may not want their children to know that they are suffering. They may feel like a burden to others and try to hide their feelings. Talk to us about your situation so you can get the help you deserve.