Depression may be described as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. Feeling depressed can be a normal reaction to loss, life struggle, or an injured self esteem. But when feelings of intense sadness include feeling helpless, hopeless, and apathetic; if the person is constantly feeling angry and aggressive, lasting for many days to weeks particularly in men; and if these feelings keep the person from functioning normally, it can be clinical depression.
1 How do I know if it is depression?
The key sign of depression is low mood or loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed. To determine if you are depressed, check if you suffer from the symptoms below:
- Feeling fatigued
- Loss of energy almost every day and every time
- Impaired concentration and indecisiveness
- Hypersomnia or insomnia
- Feeling worthless or guilty most of the time
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Loss of interest in day-to-day activities
- Being restless, impatient, and impulsive
- Instant weight loss or gain
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
2 Types of depression
There are several types of depression but let us discuss the most common ones.
It is characterized by low mood or loss of interest in life. Lasting for a maximum of 6 months, this may occur once in a person’s life or several times, and may also occur in people with family history of mental illness.
This is a mild form of depression which typically lasts between 1 and 2 years. People with dysthymia can function decently but not optimally and have symptoms like fatigue and lack of interest and concentration.
In this form of depression, the patient’s mood fluctuates from extreme low to extreme high. This is called manic-depressive disorder. Mania is the opposite of depression and it is characterized by feelings of extreme happiness, great excitement, and lots of energy. Sometimes, people lose touch with reality and experience episodes of psychosis (sees or hears things which do not exist).
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Do you start feeling mentally sick during winters? Would you like to hibernate during bone-chilling cold? These are the symptoms of SAD. This typically starts during winter and disappears when the season changes. It is likely due to the reduction of light and can be treated with light therapy or artificial light treatment.
Postpartum depression is a long lasting and serious depression brought about by hormonal changes associated with having a baby. It affects the relationship between the mother and the child. This occurs due to the new changes in the mother’s life following the baby’s birth.
In this case, the person sees or hears things which do not really exist. Psychosis is a mental state characterized by false beliefs, illusions, or false sight or sound. This is known as hallucination. A person with this type of depression may barely speak or talk with sense and may prefer to stay in bed most of the time.
3 Treatment for depression
Treatment varies from person to person and depends generally on the type and severity of the condition. Some patients are dealt with psychotherapy and the others with antidepressants. Certain brain stimulating techniques are also used like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or electroshock therapy, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
Role of Psychiatrists
Psychiatrists play an important role here. They council and perform talk therapy with patients, training and teaching them how to handle challenges and weak times in life. They teach them how to think and react positively. These counseling sessions are very tactful antidepressant procedures and greatly help patients with mild to moderate depression in changing their negative attitude toward life.
4 Let us know about some antidepressant drugs
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): These are generally non-sedating and well-tolerated by most people.
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): It is considered safe without the risk of an overdose, and is usually given in severe cases.
Reversible inhibitors of monoamine oxidase-A (RIMAs): It is non-sedative, has less side effects, and helpful in treating more severe forms.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): They are very effective but are harmful and are likely to cause low blood pressure.
Noradrenaline-serotonin specific antidepressants (NASSAs): This drug is helpful in treating anxiety problems but has sexual side effects.
Noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (NARIs): Side effects include difficulty in sleeping, urinating, and in sexual functioning.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): These drugs are prescribed under exceptional circumstances as they require special diet.
5 ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy)
ECT is given when the patient is resistant to multiple medications. The procedure is safe and effective. It involves intentional sending of electric current through the brain causing a brief seizure, affecting the area of the brain involved in controlling mood. General anesthesia is given to the patient; he won’t even feel any pain and won’t even be aware that he had been given a shock. The procedure takes a period of 12 weeks, more or less, depending on the patient’s response and recovery.
TMS (TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION)
Similar to ECT, this also involves electric currents but in lower levels and without causing a seizure or loss of consciousness.
6 Natural ways to cure depression
Vigorous exercises are recommended. Walking a few minutes a day can do wonders. Exercise temporarily boosts the chemical called endorphin in body which lets you feel good.
Get enough sleep
Sleep at least 8 hours a day and set up a sleep routine. Sleep and wake up at the designated time. Try to remove things in your room that may distract you such as mobile phones, TV, video games, etc. Not getting sufficient sleep can worsen depression.
Start taking responsibilities
Once you lose your confidence, it becomes difficult to take up any responsibility. You can counter depression by taking responsibilities. They give you a sense of accomplishment.
7 Foods that help cure depression
Soak a guava overnight and eat it early in the morning on an empty stomach. This would help in relaxing the brain nerves.
Oatmeal provides a soothing feeling by causing the brain to produce serotonin, a feel-good chemical. This helps in overcoming stress. It also contains antioxidants which are healthy for the brain.
Regular intake of pomegranate juice and fruit results in alleviating depression and strengthens the brain.