Have you felt utterly alone sometimes or felt complete hopelessness as if nothing right can happen to you? Have you ever felt like no one understands you or that you are not given proper credit for everything you do? Have you also felt like ending it all?
If all these emotions have raided your brain continuously for 2 weeks or more, you may be suffering from a disease called depression. It is a mental sickness where your view of the world is totally skewed and there are many things about yourself that you start believing to be true.
Who is depressed?
In normal day to day life almost everyone goes through a phase where they feel lonely, isolated, neglected and sorry for themselves. But most people especially those who are strong willed and have a positive outlook towards life, bounce back from this self-sustained seclusion and become hopeful and cheery.
There are some though, who delve into the darkness of the mind more than others. Depression almost always starts with self pity. You feel bad about yourself and your life’s circumstances. Even here there are two types of cases – Those who willingly look at all the negativities of life and those who want to but just can’t find anything happy or hopeful in their life. If such kind of negative feeling and utter hopelessness continues to invade the mind for not just hours and days but weeks, then these people are called to be suffering from depression.
In modern times unfortunately it is very easy to find cases of depression amidst us. The school student who fears the board exams, the office goer who is not getting any promotion, the girl who is of marriageable age but not getting married, the housewife who has no friend to share her feelings with, the retired man who does not know how to spend the endless hours. These are all people vulnerable to depression.
Depression has many emotional and psychological symptoms but it also has some physical symptoms like headache and back pain. Here are more warning signs of depression,
- Feeling sad, lonely, hopeless and numb most of the day, every day.
- You lose interest in the things you used to love, like a hobby.
- You get irritable very easily.
- You get scared and anxious very easily even in normal day to day situations.
- You are not able to make simple decisions and it seems like a hard task.
- You feel guilty for things that are not really your fault and there is often over exaggeration of such situations.
- You feel worthless.
- There are repeated thoughts of death or suicide in your mind. You wish to hurt yourself thinking falsely that the world would be a better place without you.
- You either do not sleep or feel sleepy constantly.
- You try to avoid eating totally or gorge on food. There is also sudden loss or gain of weight.
- There may be persistent back, shoulder pain and neck pain.
- There may also be headache that does not cease.
Depression thus shows up in many different ways. People often lose interest in favourite activities, have sleep problems, gain or lose weight, feel irritable or angry, or are in physical pain for unexplained reasons. These are some of the symptoms that can help you know that you or a loved one is actually suffering from depression.
Many times the person who is depressed will not reveal to you his/her inner feelings, but if you find that person looking less cheerful, glum, lost in thoughts, not eating or sleeping properly, getting irritated frequently, and complaining of a headache or pain often, these might be signs you have to note so that you can speak to an expert about it or openly and lovingly discuss your concern with the person.
Fortunately, there are many ways to treat depression, and more than 80% of people treated for depression improve within a year.
Treatment and Cure
Depression should always be approached as a disease because it is in fact a mental condition. While some people may cure themselves once they get to know that their feelings are due to depression there are others who might need help.
Under no circumstance a depressed person should be made to feel inferior and should be further admonished for always being sad.
There are mainly two approaches to curing depression. One is the important talk therapy and the other is antidepressant medicines.
Talk Therapy – Sometimes all a depressed person needs is someone to talk to. There are therapists who know how to speak to individuals suffering from depression in such a way that they reveal their innermost feelings and also realise that most of their thoughts are a skewed version of reality. While cognitive behaviour therapy deals with changing your feeling, interpersonal therapy helps in understanding your feeling about a person and how it is depressing you. There is also problem solving therapy that focuses on a specific problem you are facing in that point of life.
Antidepressants – Doctors might prescribe medicines called antidepressants to cure depression. These have many side effects and therefore it is always advisable to consult a doctor before taking any medications. The doctor might prescribe one or a combination of many antidepressants. All patients started on antidepressant medication should be monitored closely as many times suicidal tendencies may aggravate.
Electroconvulsive Therapy – For those who have not found help from talk therapy or medicines, doctors can use controlled electronic seizures. These seizures seem to affect the chemical balance and functioning of the brain. It may sound scary, but during the procedure, the doctor may give anesthesia so that the patient does not feel anything. This therapy works very quickly and positive effects are seen rapidly.
Alternative treatments – Some people use herbs, supplements, and other alternative therapies for depression. Other alternative treatments include acupuncture, hypnosis, and meditation. Since these methods have fewer risks, you might wish to try them but make sure you are in the care of a person who is an expert in his field.
The most common problem with people suffering from depression is that they feel lonely and without love. If these people are showered affection by everyone, made to feel that they are important, their self confidence is boosted, they are praised for their efforts and if someone just holds their hand and shows support during difficult times, most of depressed people can come back to the realms of reality and face the challenges of life with new vigour and confidence. They may not even need any kind of therapy.
Therefore, if you know someone who might be feeling a little low, spread the care and love. Your little act can see to it that that person does not fall into the deep endless well of depression.
Image credit Mel B. via cc/Flickr