While Depression is fast emerging as a leading health issue, a major hurdle in its treatment is lack of detection.
The WHO notes that although there are known, effective treatments for mental disorders, more than 75 percent of people in low or middle income countries receive no treatment.
Feeling low, especially in response to life’s setbacks could be normal. But when someone starts to feel sad in ways that affect how they think and behave in daily life, they may have Depression.
Depressive symptoms may range from mild to severe.
Here are some red flags that might indicate a Depressive Episode.
A persistent pervasive low mood, tearfulness, irritability is present most of the day, nearly every day in a person suffering from a Depressive Episode
One of the most telling signs of Depression is when people start to lose interest in activities they used to love doing. They no longer find enjoyment in such things be it their work or hobbies or spending time with near and dear ones or even daily tasks.
While Depression is seen as a psychological problem, it can also be accompanied by physical symptoms such as feeling tired easily, changes in appetite and weight, experiencing aches and pains, sometimes slowing down of speech and body movements.
Those with Depression often report trouble focusing on tasks for a long time and may complain of forgetfulness and brain fog.
Even simple activities like reading a book or watching a film may seem challenging.
A pervasive sense of low self esteem, helplessness and hopelessness may be present in people suffering from Depression. Thoughts like “I’m worthless, no one can help me, it’s all my fault, this is never going to get better” may surround them.
Depression may be accompanied with reduced libido and reduced enjoyment during sexual activities
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People with Depression may complain of trouble initiating or maintaining sleep. There could be frequent night time awakenings.
Sometimes there may be excessive sleep.
Depression when severe may be associated with thoughts of death or ending one’s own life.
The symptoms must last for at least 2 weeks and must represent a change in previous levels of functioning for a diagnosis of Depression.
Also it is important to rule out medical conditions like Hypothyroidism, Anaemia, Vitamin deficiencies, Drug abuse etc which may be associated with Depression.
Depression is amongst the most treatable of mental disorders. The majority of people respond well to treatment.
As brain chemistry contributes to an individual’s Depression, Anti Depressants that modify neurochemicals can help relieve symptoms.
Always remember that:
• Antidepressants are not sedatives
• Antidepressants are not habit forming medications
• Not everyone taking Antidepressants experiences side effects
• Side effects if present are mild and can often be managed
• Benefits of Antidepressants are usually evident within a few weeks
Psychotherapy or Talk therapy is sometimes used alone for treatment of mild Depression.
For Moderate to Severe Depression, Psychotherapy is often used in combination with Antidepressants.
Depression is a common psychiatric illness and not just a bout of blues from which one can snap out.
It is treatable and most people with Depression feel better with medication or Psychotherapy or both.
About the author
Dr. Sonali Bali is a well-known psychiatrist with over 20 years of experience. She is a recipient of All India Sarada Menon Gold Medal in Psychiatry. Dr Bali currently works in Vimhans Hospital Delhi, CK Birla hospital Gurugram and Paras Hospital Gururgam. She is associated with Sukoon Health as an expert. She specializes in all psychiatric problems in adults like Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Depression, OCD, Anxiety Disorders, Personality disorders, Alcohol, and other drug dependence disorders.