What is Depression?
Everyone feels sad sometimes, but these feelings usually pass after a few days. If, on the other hand there are issues with managing daily activities for weeks at a time then please seek appropriate professional help. Depression is a serious illness that requires proper treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
People suffering from depression may experience the following:
- Feeling sad or “empty”
- Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Feeling very tired
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems.
Depression in South Asian people may show up a little differently: men tend to seem overly tired and irritable, have difficulty sleeping and lose interest in pleasurable activities. When depressed, they may overwork themselves, avoid others, act recklessly, and/or abuse alcohol or drugs. Women with depression tend to present as sad and tearful, and often express feelings of worthlessness and guilt. Children with depression may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to their parents, or worry that their parent may die. Teens are more likely to get into trouble at school and be irritable.
Causes of Depression
There are several factors, or a combination of factors, that may contribute to depression, including genetics, brain chemistry, a history of trauma, or stress.
- Genes – Those with a family history of depression may be more likely to develop it than those whose families do not have the illness.
- Brain Chemistry – People with depression have different brain chemistry than those without the illness.
- Trauma – Traumatic life experiences can trigger depression. Trauma can be a prolonged life situation such as emotional, physical or sexual abuse, witnessing a traumatic situation, exposure to a disaster or attack, as well as experiencing or exposure to violence or significant loss. Depression can be present along with other symptoms
- Stress – Loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger depression.
Visiting a Doctor or Medical Health Professional – They can do an exam or lab tests to rule out other ailments with similar symptoms. They can also tell if certain medications you are taking may be affecting your mood.
The doctors should get a complete history of symptoms, including when they started, how long they have lasted, their severity, and previous treatments if any. Family history also plays a crucial part and should be shared with the doctor.
Medications – Antidepressants to treat depression can work well. It is important to know that although antidepressants can be safe and effective for many people, they may present serious risks to others, especially children, teens, and young adults. For most people, though, the risks of untreated depression far outweigh those of antidepressant medications when they are used under a careful supervision of a doctor.