Depression (also known as major depressive disorder) doesn’t refer to the common occasional sadness we all feel. It’s a disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sorrow, negativity, dejection and hopelessness.
Depression can really do a number on a person, damaging their self-esteem and self-worth. This may develop into loss of interest in activities that the person used to be passionate about, difficulty in doing everyday activities, and eventually into a feeling that life is not worth living. Before it gets to that stage, it needs to be identified and treated.
Symptoms of depression include
- Feeling sad, empty or hopeless most of the time.
- Loss of interest in activities previously passionate about, such as hobbies and sports.
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Sudden gain or loss of appetite.
- Anger, anxiety, agitation and restlessness beyond usual.
- Self-blame for past mistakes and a sense of guilt, shame and worthlessness.
- Overall tiredness and lack of energy that make it harder to do even simple tasks.
- Frequent thoughts of death, suicide and self-harm.
You can manage depression on your own to some extent by
- Exercising regularly.
- Maintaining a fixed sleep routine with 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Spending time with friends and family.
- Finding new activities you enjoy.
- Sharing your feelings with people you trust.
- Practising yoga, meditation, deep breathing and other forms of mindfulness.
- Having a balanced diet.
- Avoiding alcohol and drugs.
However, there’s a limit to what you can do yourself. We strongly recommend that you consult a doctor or mental health expert if you or your loved ones are showing symptoms of depression.
Possible courses of action a doctor or mental health expert may recommend
- Psychotherapy: Also called talk therapy and counseling, this can be useful for identifying deep-seated worries and anxieties that are causing the depression. Common types include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT).
- Medication: Antidepressants as their name suggests are a common category of medication used to treat depression. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants (TCAs and TECAs).
- Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): This is a form of brain stimulation that will help in cases where other forms of treatment have failed. However, it comes with several side effects such as confusion, disorientation and memory loss that need to be considered before deciding on it.
Depression can cause (or be caused by) other mental health issues such as anxiety and sleeping disorders. So, it might be a good idea to find out about those other issues too.