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Depression – The Global Pandemic

Depression – The Global Pandemic

We are in an age where we; humans are developing rapidly. We have achieved things in the past two decades that we quite didn’t even imagine we could. Science has given us many gadgets and other successes to be proud of and gloat about.

But at what costs? At what cost are we developing? At the cost of more than 264 million people suffering from depression worldwide as per WHO till 30th Jan 2020 out of which about one-fifth are Indians. 43% of Indians suffer from depression which is 56 million people.

Depression affects all age groups and sex but women are more affected by depression than men. Depression in its worst stages can lead to suicide which is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 years old.

And though there are many known and effective treatments for mental health disorders, between 76%-85% of people in low & middle-income countries don’t receive treatments due to reasons stretching from lack of resources to lack of trained health care providers or social stigma.

So, how to know if you really need help or not or if you are just having a bad day? Well, here are a few tips for you to deal with this.

Types & Symptoms of Depression

  1. Recurrent Depressive Disorder- Under this disorder, repeated depressive episodes are experienced. Depressive episodes are categorized as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the symptoms and the number and severity of episodes. During these episodes, one can experience:
    • Severe mood swings & fluctuations.
    • Loss of interest & enjoyment.
    • Depressed mood.
    • Reduced energy for two weeks at least.
    • Anxiety.
    • Disturbed sleep & appetite.
    • Feelings of guilt/low self-esteem/ low self-worth.
    • Poor concentration & even symptoms that cannot be explained by medical diagnosis.

A person with mild or moderate symptoms will have some difficulty in doing ordinary & social activities but won’t completely cease. On the other hand, a person with severe symptoms will have a very hard time continuing social & domestic work except to a very limited extent.

  1. Bipolar Affective Disorder- Under this disorder, both manic & depressive episodes are experienced which are separated by periods of normal mood. Manic episode symptoms can vary & involve:
    • Irritable mood.
    • Over-activity.
    • Inflated self-esteem.
    • The pressure of speech.
    • Decreased need for sleep.

Causes of Depression

  1. Family History- Family History is one of the biggest reasons for developing depression disorders. Genetics can make it hard for you to escape depression and you can fall under the trap even if you don’t see a legit reason for your depression.
  2. Childhood Trauma- A trauma in early life can affect your whole life. And it can also affect the way your body reacts to certain situations, especially ones that leads to fear, stress & pressure.
  3. Medical Condition- Certain medical conditions, such as chronic illness, insomnia, chronic pain, etc. can lead you towards depression.
  4. Drug or Alcohol Abuse- A history of drug or alcohol abuse can lead to depression and puts you at a higher risk for other mental disorders too.
  5. Brain Structure- Scientists are not sure if this happens before or after depressive symptoms but it is hypothesized that there is a greater risk of depression if the frontal lobe is less active.

Prevention of Depression

  1. Medication- If your depression has reached severe levels & you are seeing a psychiatrist then you are going to get medicines prescribed. Your health caretaker may prescribe:
  • Antidepressants.
  • Antianxiety.
  • Antipsychotic medications.

Each type of medication has potential benefits and risks.

  1. Psychotherapy- You basically sit down and tell your therapist everything that can potentially be affecting you emotionally & mentally. People usually don’t express such things to others for the fear of getting judged, misunderstood, and someone telling them to others. But with the therapist your conversations are protected under ‘Physician-Patient Privilege’, so, it is comparatively easier to talk.
  2. Light Therapy- As the name suggests, under this therapy, the patient is slowly exposed to white light that can help regulate and improve your mood.
  3. Alternatives- Your health care provider may suggest you acupuncture or other supplements and medications. Some herbal supplements like natural oils, fish oils, etc. are also used to treat depression, anxiety and stress.
  4. Exercise- If you have mild symptoms or are recovering from depression then exercising for only 30 minutes for 3-5 days a week can increase the production of your endorphins which are mood-enhancing hormones.
  5. Avoid abuse of alcohol & drugs.
  6. Set boundaries in your personal & professional life. Don’t take too much pressure or stress and learn to say NO.
  7. Make yourself your preference, schedule some ‘ME-Time’ for yourself & take care of yourself.

Get plenty of sleep, eat well, take less stress, go on vacation or holidays, spend time with your friends and family, avoid negative people and do things that you enjoy or used to enjoy as it can re-develop your liking for it.

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