The concept of depression

One of the most common illnesses people easily slip into is depression because of the rapid rate of mental health issues in the world.

Depression according to google can be defined as a group or conditions associated with the elevation or lowering of a person’s mood, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

The American psychiatric association defines depression as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.

Types of depression

There are many types of depressions some of which include:

  • Clinical depression: this is a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. Possible causes include a combination of biological, psychological and social sources of distress. Increasingly, research suggests that these factors may cause changes in brain function, including altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain.
  • Persistent depressive disorder: this is a mild but long-term form of depression. Dysthymia is defined as a low mood occurring for at least two years, along with at least two other symptoms of depression.
  • Bipolar disorder: A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. The exact cause of bipolar disorder isn’t known, but a combination of genetics, environment and altered brain structure and chemistry may play a role.
  • Bipolar II disorder: A type of bipolar disorder characterised by depressive and hypomanic episodes. It involves at least one depressive episode lasting at least two weeks and at least one hypomanic episode lasting at least four days.
  • Postpartum depression: Depression that occurs after childbirth. Those who develop postpartum depression are at greater risk of developing major depression later on in life.

Causes of depression

There are various causes of depression:

  • Brain chemistry: An imbalance of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, contributes to the development of depression.
  • Genetics: If you have a first-degree relative (biological parent or sibling) with depression, you’re about three times as likely to develop the condition as the general population. However, you can have depression without a family history of it.
  • Stressful life events: Difficult experiences, such as the death of a loved one, trauma, divorce, isolation and lack of support, can trigger depression.
  • Medical conditions: Chronic pain and chronic conditions like diabetes amongst others can lead to depression.
  • Medication: Some medications can cause depression as a side effect. Substance use, including alcohol, can also cause depression or make it worse.

Characteristics of depression

Depression is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Feeling very sad, hopeless or worried. Children and adolescents with depression may be irritable rather than sad: some people just have random mood swings and they just decide to ignore people and act weirdly. This shouldn’t be blamed totally on them but rather they should find help because gradually, they’re slipping into depression.
  • Not enjoying things that used to bring joy: this comes with a heavy vacuum that needs to be filled with activities. The moment a person begins to lose interest in activities that used to be of great interest, depression has begun to set in.
  • Being easily irritated or frustrated: crankiness is a symptom of depression, being depressed cannot be solely determined by irritability as that is a normal phase is human growth. However, if the crankiness is accompanied with any of these other symptoms, the individual is gradually slipping into depression.
  • Eating too much or too little, which may result in weight gain or weight loss.
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia) or sleeping too much (hypersomnia): depression comes with insomnia or hypersomnia. When your thoughts are clouded, thereby barely giving you ample time to rest and think properly.
  • Having low energy or fatigue: this is a general symptom of depression, apathy to literally everything.
  • Having a difficult time concentrating, making decisions or remembering things: the aforementioned are dire symptoms of depression.
  • Experiencing physical issues like headache, stomach ache or sexual dysfunction: these are characteristics of depression.
  • Having thoughts of self-harm or suicide: with depression comes suicidal thoughts, the moment a person’s thoughts are geared towards suicide, the person should be checked as such individual may be slipping into depression.

How to overcome depression

Depression is not an illness that can be overcome suddenly, it is a gradual process. I’ll run you through a few coping mechanisms for depression.

  1. Seek professional help: scheduling a meeting with a therapist (a professional in the field of depression) and pouring out bits of yourself could help you regain your mental energy. They could also recommend drugs or treatments that will help.
  2. Take care of your physical health: eat healthy, exercise regularly, sleep well, do whatever makes you happy no matter what it is, could be window shopping or going on a vacation, just do anything to elevate your physical health.
  3. Connect with others: there are many people battling depression and are recovering. Having a community where you can share your experiences and won’t feel judged helps a lot in controlling depression. A community takes you away from isolation and gives you a reason to live and feel alive.
  4. Practice relaxation techniques: exercises like yoga, meditation, deep breathing and the likes help relax your muscles and reduce fatigue and stress which are causes of depression.
  5. Subject negative thoughts: Depression often involves negative thoughts and a messed up thinking patterns. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you identify and subject these negative thoughts and develop more realistic and positive ways of thinking.
  6. Consider medication: In some cases, medication may be recommended to help manage depression symptoms. Antidepressants can help improve mood, sleep, and energy levels.
  7. Be patient: Overcoming depression takes time and effort. Don't be discouraged if you don't feel better right away. Continue working with your therapist, follow your treatment plan, and practice self-care.

Other things that can be done to manage depression includes: setting realistic goals, rewarding yourself for each milestone crossed, avoiding quitting.

With everything that we do, let’s try to sensitize ourselves on how wildly depression is spreading.