Despite being very common and affecting anyone at any stage of life, depression is still vastly under-recognized and undertreated. Most people have their first bout of depression in their late teens or early twenties.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression’s symptoms can vary from person to person, according to their gender, culture, or age. However, most forms of depression include these common symptoms:
Frequent crying and bouts of sadness
Feeling hopeless or worthless
Getting too much or too little sleep
Difficulty enjoying activities one used to like
Changes in Libido
Unexplained physical ailments such as headaches or muscle pain
Changes in weight or eating habits
Thoughts of suicide
A person with depression may trouble dealing with daily stresses. Sometimes the simplest activities—getting out of bed, bathing, and dressing—can feel impossible. Such struggles might make people feel helpless or alone. Even when something good happens, depression can cast a cloud of negativity over the experience.
People with depression often feel anger, shame, and irritation. These feelings can also lead to sadness.
Other times, depression causes people to feel emotionally “numb.” It is common for people to feel exhausted. In severe cases, a person may not care if they live or die.
WHAT DEPRESSION IS NOT
Depression is not simple sadness. Most people get upset when life doesn’t go their way. But someone with depression can feel so bad they struggle to do everyday activities. To count as depression, the sadness must be a constant, long-lasting feeling.
Depression is not a sign of weakness. Although depression can sap one’s energy or motivation, having the condition does not mean one is lazy. In fact, many people with depression, double the effort to simply get through their day.
People with depression can feel hopeless about recovery, especially if they’ve had the condition for a long time. Yet most forms of depression are very treatable. There are many therapies used to treat depressive symptoms.
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION
Depression can be caused by a physical condition, or one’s circumstances. Sometimes it can be caused by a mixture of both.
Most mental health experts agree brain chemistry plays a major role in depression. The brain has chemicals called dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals affect our ability to feel pleasure and well-being. If the brain does not make enough of these chemicals, or if it does not process them correctly, depression can result.
But no person is an island. Just as brain chemistry can affect life, life can cause changes in the brain. Any stressful or traumatic event can contribute to depression. Common triggers include divorce, financial instability, chronic illness, social isolation, bullying, and domestic violence.
Depression is not to be confused with the grieving process. Grief after loss is normal, and it usually fades over time. One’s sadness or guilt is often limited to thoughts of the deceased. But depression’s symptoms tend to be persistent and less tied to any specific thought.
Please note: Depression is serious. If you have thoughts of self-harm in any way, go to E&A or call Suicide hotline ( U.K Samaritans, telephone: 116 123). Get help, immediately.