Let’s Talk Depression: A Comprehensive Understanding Of The Formidable Foe We’re Up Against

Talking about Depression is never easy for those who are going through it. Mental health, and by extension, Depression, anxiety, and such issues, have been stigmatized in society. We often find ourselves freely talking about it; opening up, in and of itself, is a hard thing to do. A deviation, so to speak, from the norm. However, guess what happens when you leave your wounds unattended? When did you refuse to acknowledge them? They fester, and there comes a point when you can’t even function, or worse.

We find ourselves in a time in the post-COVID 19 world, where the World Health Organization is practically trying to ring the alarm bells when it comes to Depression and anxiety. According to its findings, there has been a whopping 25% increase globally in the prevalence of Depression and Anxiety in the post-COVID-19 world. The director general of WHO, Dr. Ghebreyesus, has rightly called it “the tip of the iceberg.”

Yesterday was the time to normalize talking freely about what’s hurting you, the time to normalize acknowledging openly that you’re in pain and the time to normalize seeking help. That is not to say that we have failed to raise awareness; however, much effort has been put in, and they are still ongoing. This blog intends to carry on with the conversation, to destigmatize talking about mental health, shine a light on what Depression is, and explore it in detail.

What Is Depression And How To Know If You're Clinically Depressed?

It has become a cliche to call feeling low “depression”. However, in clinical terms, and for the sake of identifying the mental health concern we’re talking about here, Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness. Feeling low can be temporary; life has its ups and downs, and just like happiness, sadness is also a part of our day-to-day life.

However, Depression, in clinical terms, means when your feeling of sadness is profound, persistent, and pervasive, and it is affecting your behavior and normal functioning. While feeling sad can last for days and go away on its own, Depression can last months and even years if left untreated, and it isn’t likely at all that it’d go away on its own.

What Science Tells Us?

Scientists have learned a great deal about the biology of Depression, but their understanding is far from complete. Depression is frequently described as the result of a chemical imbalance, yet that figure of speech fails to convey the disease’s complexity. According to research, Depression does not result from having too much or too little of particular brain chemicals.

Instead, there are other likely causes of Depression, including poor brain mood regulation, hereditary predisposition, and stressful life events. It is thought that several of these forces interact to cause Depression. To be sure, chemicals are used in this process, but it is not as easy as one chemical being too low and another being too high.

Instead, many chemicals are at work here, both inside and outside nerve cells. Millions, if not billions, of chemical interactions, comprise the dynamic system that governs your emotions, senses, and overall life experience. With this amount of complication, it’s easy to see how two people could have similar symptoms of Depression, but the underlying cause, and hence which therapies will work best, could be very different.

Physiological Implications

The intrinsic relation of mind and body can hardly be exaggerated, and hence, following that logic, Depression can and does, in most cases, manifest physiologically as well. The following are the signs and symptoms that, when displayed, should be addressed. Suppose you or anyone you love and care about are experiencing any or multiple of these symptoms to any degree. In that case, the person should seek professional help immediately.

Let's take a look at the telltale signs and symptoms of Depression:

Feeling hopeless

People who are depressed feel hopeless most of the time. A profound lack of self-worth is also a big sign. You may also feel as if everything is always an effort. A large proportion of depressed people suffer inappropriate guilt. “It’s all my fault,” they may think, or “What’s the point?”

Losing interest in activities that, earlier, were pleasurable

Depression takes away the pleasure or happiness from activities that individuals, before its onset, experience. A loss of interest in or withdrawal from day-to-day activities – sports, hobbies, going out with friends – is typically an indication of significant Depression.

Fatigue and sleep irregularities

Part of the reason people suffering from Depression may cease doing things they enjoy is an overwhelming sense of being fatigued. Depression is frequently accompanied by a loss of energy and a strong feeling of exhaustion or fatigue, which can be among its most incapacitating symptoms. This can lead to oversleeping.

Many people describe feeling weary or sleepy rather than depressed, which is more culturally acceptable. Because these symptoms might be mistaken for those of other illnesses, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, healthcare providers may miss the underlying cause. Depression and sleeplessness are related, and they can exacerbate each other. A lack of restful sleep can cause anxiety.

Anxiety

Anxiety and Depression frequently co-occur. Anxiety symptoms might include:

  1. Nervousness, unrest, or a feeling of stress
  2. Feeling of danger, fright, or dread
  3. fast heart rate (palpitation), rapid breathing, feeling breathless or lightheaded
  4. Excessive or profuse perspiration.
  5. Muscle twitching or trembling
  6. Difficulty focusing or thinking properly about anything other than one primary concern.

Irritability

Depression affects men and women differently. According to research, men suffering from Depression may exhibit irritation, escapist or dangerous behavior, substance addiction, or misplaced anger. Men are less likely than women to notice Depression and seek therapy for it. They are more likely to seek therapy if their symptoms mirror “traditional” Depression, but they may not recognize their irritability or other intense sensations as requiring treatment. Women are roughly twice as likely as men to take antidepressant medication, with those over 60 being the most frequent users. When it comes to therapy, men mostly prefer pharmaceuticals over going to a therapist.

Appetite and Weight

People suffering from Depression may have fluctuations in their weight and appetite. Each person’s experience will be unique. Some people gain weight because of their increased appetite, while others lose weight because they don’t feel hungry. The intentionality of dietary changes is one indicator of whether they are related to Depression. If you find that the change in appetite is something that you have no control over, chances are you’re experiencing Depression.

Extreme emotional highs and lows

Depression can create unpredictable mood swings; one moment, it’s an outpouring of rage; the next, uncontrollable tears and no one other than the individual experiencing it has anything to do with it.

Suicidal ideation

Depression is very much intertwined with suicide. Suicide victims frequently exhibit indications of despair or mental health concerns before taking their own lives. Before successfully ending their lives, many people will talk about it or make a first attempt. When people are in immediate danger of harming themselves or others, others around them should:

Call 911 or the appropriate local emergency number

  • Stay with the individual until aid arrives.
  • Remove any firearms, knives, drugs, or other hazardous things.
  • Listen without passing judgment, arguing, threatening, or yelling.

The Complexity Of The Situation We Find Ourselves In

The causes of anxiety and Depression vary by community and are not constant. People from marginalized racial and ethnic groups, as well as the LGBTQIA+ community, are less likely to be examined for Depression and are less likely to obtain mental healthcare therapy than people from the privileged or the upper echelons of society.

Millions of individuals suffer from Depression, but there are different therapeutic options available, ranging from lifestyle modifications to pharmaceuticals. Regardless of the approach chosen, seeking professional assistance is an essential first step toward feeling better.

What that assistance looks like may vary between communities of color and other marginalized groups. Individuals in these cultures frequently get misdiagnosed because “traditional” depression symptoms differ by race and ethnicity — and some people are unwilling to report their symptoms.

The Way Forward

As you can see, Depression is a rather complex mental health concern with serious implications if it stays undiagnosed and untreated. It is indeed imperative that we rise above conforming to the social stigma and foster open conversations. The pseudo-bravado of suffering in silence can cause damage in the long run, which can be beyond repair.

As we learn to be more and more vigilant towards the signs of Depression both in ourselves as well as others around us, destigmatizing therapy, raising awareness, and mere conversations on the topic can indeed go a long way.

FAQs About Depression

Q1: What is Depression?

Clinical Depression is a severe illness that has an adverse effect on a person’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior. Unlike ordinary melancholy, clinical Depression is characterized by its persistence, frequent interference with the experience or anticipation of pleasure, and severe interference with day-to-day functioning. If Depression is not properly treated, its symptoms can linger for weeks, months, or even years. In rare instances, Depression can also result in serious health problems, significant impairment, and even suicide.

Q2: What are the symptoms of clinical Depression?

  • Depressed mood throughout the day, every day
  • Markedly decreased enjoyment or interest in most activities for the majority of the day, almost every day
  • Changes in appetite that lead to weight gain or loss without dieting
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Decreased vitality or heightened exhaustion
  • Feeling agitated or irritable
  • Anxiety-related sentiments: Hopelessness, helplessness, or a sense of worthlessness
  • Unwarranted guilt
  • Inability to focus, think clearly, or make decisions
  • Death-related thoughts or attempted suicide

Q3: How is Depression diagnosed?

If you believe that you’re depressed, the first thing you should do is visit a psychologist or a psychotherapist for a thorough evaluation. Psychotherapists have a myriad of psychometric tests available to them to evaluate your condition and determine their severity. Depending on the severity, psychotherapists or psychologists may direct you to a psychiatrist, who is a doctor who can prescribe medications, and you may be required to continue therapy and medication simultaneously or either one of them.

Q4: What are the treatments for Depression?

Psychotherapy and medications are effective for most people with Depression. Your primary care doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe drugs to relieve symptoms. However, it is recommended that you see a psychologist or a psychotherapist first to ascertain your condition and determine its severity. Medications may include SSRIs, SNRIs, Anti-Anxiety, and Antidepressants, along with other medicines as may be deemed necessary by your psychiatrist. Psychotherapists have a vast arsenal of therapeutic tools to help you fight off Depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most prominent and practical tools.

Reach Out: You Don't Have To Go Through It Alone

Gita Sawhney is an accredited psychotherapist, and her practice at GS Mental Health & Wellness is a haven for any young adult or adult wanting to talk about Depression, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, OCD, or any mental health concern that they may have.

Gita’s practice personifies empathetic and compassionate therapeutic solutions, and you can confidently talk to her regarding any issue you may be going through without any fear of judgment. GS Mental Health and Wellness is inclusive, and Gita specializes in helping people from marginalized sections of society deal with their mental health concerns effectively.

No matter your race, gender, sexual orientation, or social standing, If you or anyone you know is experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, you can always reach out to Gita to talk about it and get help.

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