What is depression?

Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It can be described as feelings of sorrow, loss, or anger that interfere with the daily activities of an individual. Significant life events may cause depression, such as sadness or job loss. However, feelings of pain are only considered by doctors to be part of depression if they persist. Depression is an ongoing problem, not a temporary one. It comprises episodes lasting at least 2 weeks during which symptoms last. For weeks, months, or years depression may last.


Types of Depression

Depending on how severe the symptoms are, depression can be classified into several groups. While some people only have brief, mild episodes, others have severe, ongoing depressive episodes. There are several forms of depression. Some of the most common types are:

  • Major depression Disorder: A major depressive disorder is one of the most severe forms of depression. It is characterized by persistent, self-perpetuating feelings of despair, helplessness, and worthlessness.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder: A persistent depressive disorder is known as dysthymia. The persistent depressive disorder causes symptoms that last at least 2 years. Major depressive episodes as well as less severe symptoms are possible in a person with this illness.
  • Manic Depression, or Bipolar disorder: According to study, bipolar disorder patients may have symptoms up to 50% of the time. Depression is a prevalent sign of this illness. This can make it hard to separate bipolar disorder from depression.
  • Psychotic Depression Disorder: Some people experience psychosis with depression. Psychosis, such as false beliefs and separation from reality, may include delusions. It can also involve hallucinations (feeling things that are not there).
  • Postpartum Depression: After giving birth, a lot of women have postpartum depression; others refer to it as "baby blues." Mood swings might happen after delivery as hormone levels rebalance. This type of depression can linger for months or years and has no known cause. Anyone who continues to feel depressed after giving birth should contact a doctor.

Symptoms

Depression can manifest with a wide range of symptoms, and not everyone with depression will experience all of these symptoms. Symptoms can vary in severity, and they often persist for an extended period (usually at least two weeks) and significantly impact a person's daily life and functioning. It's important to note that depression is a clinical condition, and a diagnosis should be made by a healthcare provider or mental health professional. Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent Sadness or Low Mood: Feeling sad, empty, or down most of the time.
  • Loss of Interest or Pleasure: A loss of interest or enjoyment in past favorite pastimes, hobbies, or social interactions.
  • Fatigue and Low Energy: Feeling tired and lacking energy, even after a full night's sleep.
  • Changes in Appetite or Weight: Observable changes in appetite, which may result in weight gain or decrease.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleep).
  • Feelings of Worthlessness or Guilt: Excessive or irrational feelings of guilt, self-blame, or worthlessness.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  • Psychomotor Changes: Either agitation (restlessness) or psychomotor slowing (slowed movements and speech).
  • Withdrawal from Social Activities: Avoiding social interactions and isolating oneself from friends and family.
  • Physical Symptoms: Some individuals with depression may experience physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained pains.
  • Thoughts of Death or Suicidal Ideation: Thoughts of death, dying, or suicide, or making suicide plans.
  • Loss of Libido: A decrease in sexual interest or activity.
  • Irritability: Feeling easily annoyed or frustrated, even over minor issues.

When to see a doctor?

You should visit a doctor if you experience persistent or severe symptoms of any illness or if you have concerns about your health that you cannot resolve on your own. Specific reasons to seek medical attention include sudden and severe pain, difficulty breathing, uncontrolled bleeding, symptoms of a serious infection, persistent high fever, sudden changes in vision, chest pain or pressure, or any symptom that significantly impacts your daily life and well-being. It's always better to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment when in doubt or when symptoms persist or worsen. Early medical intervention can be critical for many health conditions.

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Causes

Eczema is a complex skin condition with multiple potential causes. It is thought to arise from a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors. Here are some of the key factors and triggers that can contribute to the development or exacerbation of eczema:

  • Abuse: Abuse in the past—physical, sexual, or emotional—can make someone more susceptible to developing clinical depression later in life.
  • Family history: If depression or another mood disorder runs in your family, you are more likely to have depression yourself.
  • Early childhood trauma: The way your body responds to anxiety and stressful circumstances is influenced by certain incidents that happened in childhood.
  • Brain structure: If your frontal lobe is less active in your brain, you are more likely to experience depression. Thus, scientists do not know whether this occurs before or after the onset of depression signs.
  • Certain medications: Certain drugs can raise your risk of depression such as isotretinoin, the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids.
  • Conflict: Personal conflicts or disagreements with family or friends might cause sadness in someone who is biologically predisposed to the condition.
  • Death or loss: Sadness or grief over the death or loss of a loved one, even natural, can increase the risk of depression.
  • Medical conditions: You may be more susceptible to certain disorders, such as long-term illnesses, chronic discomfort, ADHD, or persistent sleeplessness.
  • Drug use: Drug or alcohol misuse in the past may increase your risk.

Risk Factors

It's important to note that having one or more risk factors does not guarantee that an individual will develop depression, and not having these risk factors does not guarantee immunity from the condition. Common risk factors for depression include:

  • Family History: There may be a hereditary predisposition to mood disorders if there is a history of depression or other mood disorders in the family.
  • Personal History: A prior episode of depression increases the likelihood of experiencing depression again.
  • Brain Chemistry: Imbalances in a number of brain chemicals, including serotonin and dopamine, may contribute to the development of depression.
  • Stressful Life Events: Traumatic or major life events, including the death of a loved one, divorce, losing a job, or facing financial troubles, can cause depression, especially in people who are predisposed to it.
  • Chronic Illness: Having a chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, can make depression more likely.
  • Personality Traits: Certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem, a negative outlook on life, or being highly self-critical, can make individuals more vulnerable to depression.
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with depression, although this difference in prevalence may be due to a combination of hormonal, social, and cultural factors.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those during pregnancy, the postpartum period, or menopause, can increase the risk of depression in some individuals.
  • Substance Abuse: The use or abuse of alcohol, drugs, or other substances can contribute to the development or exacerbation of depression.
  • Chronic Stress: Ongoing stress, whether related to work, family, or other factors, can wear down an individual's ability to cope and increase the risk of depression.
  • Social Isolation: Lack of a strong support system or social isolation can contribute to feelings of loneliness and increase the risk of depression.
  • Childhood Adversity: Exposure to adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or trauma, can have long-lasting effects on mental health and increase the risk of depression in adulthood.
  • Lack of Physical Activity: A sedentary lifestyle or lack of regular physical activity has been associated with an increased risk of depression.
  • Sleep Problems: Chronic sleep disturbances or insomnia can increase the risk of depression.

Complications

Some of the potential complications associated with depression include:

  • Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors: One of the most serious complications of untreated depression is the risk of suicide. Depression can lead to intense feelings of hopelessness and despair, which may result in suicidal thoughts or attempts.
  • Substance Abuse: Individuals with depression may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with their symptoms, leading to substance abuse or addiction issues.
  • Physical Health Problems: Depression has been linked to a range of physical health problems, including cardiovascular issues, diabetes, chronic pain, and a weakened immune system. The stress associated with depression can also contribute to inflammation and exacerbate existing medical conditions.
  • Relationship Difficulties: Depression can strain relationships with family members, friends, and romantic partners due to changes in mood, behavior, and communication patterns.
  • Social Isolation: Individuals with depression may withdraw from social activities and isolate themselves from loved ones, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and exacerbate the condition.
  • Occupational and Academic Impairment: Depression can affect an individual's ability to concentrate, make decisions, and perform effectively at work or in school, potentially leading to job loss or academic difficulties.
  • Financial Problems: Job loss or reduced work performance due to depression can result in financial difficulties, which can, in turn, contribute to stress and exacerbate the condition.
  • Physical Symptoms: Some people with depression may experience physical symptoms such as unexplained aches and pains, headaches, and digestive issues.
  • Poor Self-Care: Depression can lead to neglect of self-care routines, including poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and inadequate sleep, which can worsen physical and mental well-being.
  • Recurrence: Without proper treatment and ongoing support, depression can recur, with each episode potentially becoming more severe.
  • Increased Risk of Other Mental Health Disorders: Depression is often comorbid (co-occurring) with other mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, or eating disorders.
  • Reduced Quality of Life: Overall, untreated or inadequately managed depression can significantly reduce a person's quality of life, leading to a constant state of emotional suffering and distress.

Diagnosis

If a person suspects they have symptoms of depression, they should seek professional help from a doctor or mental health specialist. A qualified healthcare professional can rule out various causes, ensure an accurate diagnosis, and provide safe and effective treatment. To diagnose any form of depression, a doctor is likely to do:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor can do a physical exam and ask you questions about your health. Sometimes, depression may relate to an underlying physical health problem.
  • Lab tests: Your doctor may perform a blood test called a complete blood count or analyze your thyroid to make sure it works properly.
  • Psychiatric evaluation: Your mental health practitioner talks about your symptoms, feelings, emotions, and patterns of action. To help answer these questions, you may be asked to complete a questionnaire.

Treatment

It's challenging to live with depression, but therapy can help improve the quality of life. Speak about potential choices with your healthcare provider.

Combining medical treatments and lifestyle therapies, including the following, is common:

  • Medicines: Your healthcare provider may prescribe:
    • Antidepressants
    • Anti-anxiety
    • Antipsychotic medications
    • Each type of medicine used to treat depression has potential benefits and risks.
  • Psychotherapy: Talking to a therapist can help you learn skills to deal with negative feelings. Family or community counseling sessions will also help you.
  • Light therapy: White light exposure can help monitor the mood and improve the symptoms of depression. Phototherapy commonly used in seasonal affective disorder, now called major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs: Drinking or abusing drugs can make you feel better for a while. But in the long run, these substances can make symptoms of depression and anxiety worse.

Prevention

Preventing depression involves a multifaceted approach that addresses both risk factors and protective factors. It includes promoting mental well-being through stress management, regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep. Creating a supportive social network, maintaining healthy relationships, and seeking help during times of emotional distress can also be preventive measures. Early intervention for any emerging mental health concerns and access to mental healthcare can be crucial in preventing the development or worsening of depression. Additionally, reducing exposure to adverse childhood experiences and addressing issues related to substance abuse can play a significant role in prevention. Education and awareness campaigns about depression and mental health can help reduce stigma and encourage individuals to seek help when needed, ultimately contributing to prevention efforts.


Do’s and Don’ts

A person with Atopic dermatitis has to follow sets of do’s and don’ts to manage it and related symptoms and infections.

Do’s Don’ts
Seek Professional Help: Do consult with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Therapy and medication can be effective in managing depression. Don't Isolate Yourself: Don't withdraw from social interactions or isolate yourself. Isolation can exacerbate depression symptoms.
Educate Yourself: Do learn about depression and its symptoms, as understanding the condition can help you or your loved one navigate it more effectively. Don't Self-Medicate: Don't turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to cope with depression. These can worsen the condition.
Talk About It: Do encourage open and non-judgmental communication about feelings and struggles with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. Don't Blame Yourself: Don't blame yourself for having depression. It's not a sign of personal failure or weakness.
Set Realistic Goals: Do set achievable, small goals each day. Accomplishing even minor tasks can provide a sense of accomplishment and improve mood. Avoid Negative Self-Talk: Don't engage in negative self-talk or rumination. Challenge self-critical thoughts and practice self-compassion.
Establish a Routine: Do establish a daily routine with regular sleep patterns, exercise, and healthy meals to maintain structure and stability. Don't Expect Quick Fixes: Don't expect immediate results from treatment. Recovery from depression can be a gradual process, and setbacks can occur.
Practice Self-Care: Do prioritize self-care activities, such as relaxation techniques, meditation, or hobbies that bring joy and relaxation. Don't Isolate or Enable: If you're supporting someone with depression, don't force them to talk or provide solutions. However, also don't enable harmful behaviors or isolate them from professional help.
Stay Active: Do engage in regular physical activity, as exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mood and overall well-being. Don't Ignore Warning Signs: If someone you know shows signs of severe depression or expresses suicidal thoughts, don't dismiss it. Take it seriously and seek immediate help.
Medication Adherence: If prescribed medication, do take it as directed by your healthcare provider and communicate any concerns or side effects promptly. Don't Judge: Avoid making judgments about someone's depression or telling them to "snap out of it." Depression is a real medical condition, and understanding and empathy are more helpful.
Seek Social Support: Do reach out to friends and family for support. Social connections can provide emotional assistance during tough times.


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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long do suicidal episodes last?

The symptoms of depression are chronic and present for at least two weeks during a depressed episode, happening virtually daily.

2. What will occur while the depression is present?

A crippling condition that could result in inability to work or suicide. In addition to having a low mood, victims also have trouble with simple daily tasks, lose interest in their typical activities, are extremely tired, have trouble sleeping, or feel guilty and powerless.

3. Can depression be inherited?

Since depression is known to run in families, genetic risk factors may play a role in how likely someone would develop the condition.