“I thought it was stress, so I tried to distract myself by focusing on work, and surrounding myself with people, which helped for a while. But the nagging feeling didn’t go away. My breath was shallow, I suffered from lack of concentration and I broke down often.”
When Deepika Padukone, a leading bollywood actress, opened up on her struggle with depression, it was seen as a triumph for fighting the stigma of mental illness. It showed that depression can affect anyone at any stage in life. With WHO launching it campaignon depression this year with World Health Day theme to be “Depression: let’s talk”, it’s an opportune time to share information on this disorder.
What is depression?
Depression is a mental illness that causes feelings of sadness & hopelessness. It leads to loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy. Other symptoms include anxiety, disturbed sleep and appetite, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, poor concentration and even medically unexplained physical symptoms.At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
A depressive episode can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the number and severity of symptoms. An individual with a mild episode will have some difficulty in continuing with ordinary work and social activities, whereas in a severe episode, his ability to continue with social, work, or domestic activities becomes very limited.
It is important to differentiate depression from stress. Stressis a much more common phenomenon which is faced by everyone. Depressionis much more than simple stress. It results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors and affects our normal day to day functioning, leading to complications. Depression may develop in response to stressful life events (unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma)but such events are not a prerequisite. Depression can, in turn, lead to more stressand worsen a person’s life situation itself.
Why treat Depression?
Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. A per WHO, currently more than 300 million people are estimated to be living with depression. It can cause the affected person to function poorly at work, at school and in the family. It increases the risk of substance use disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.It is also an important risk factor for suicide. Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year.
What you can do to prevent depression?
It is not entirely possible to prevent depression. But we can reduce the chances by reducing stress in our lives.
- Reach out and stay connected to supportive people; discussing day to day life stressors and opening up helps.
- Do things that make you feel good; take part in activitieswhich help you relax and feel better on a regular basis.
- Exercise regularly
- Challenge negative thinkingwhich pops up in your mind with positive ones.
- Write diary daily or maintain a journal to express your feelings and emotion.
- Avoid all kinds of addictive substances like tobacco/cigarette/ alcohol etc.
When to seek help?
Seek professional opinion froma psychiatrist whenever you feel that you are not able to cope up with stress on your own and it is leading to personal distress, causing difficulty in relationship or reducing work output. Don’t ignore any suicidal thoughts in yourself or your near ones. Remember as a rule: Earlier the treatment is initiated better is the response.
There are effective treatments for depression.
- Psychological treatments: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT),Behavioural activation, Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), etc.
- Antidepressant medications: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin Nor-epinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).
Psychological treatments are effective for mild depression. Antidepressants are usually required with or without psychotherapy for moderate to severe depression.
Overcoming depression isn’t quick or easy but not impossible.One can’t just “snap out of it”. Seek help as soon as possible. Feeling better takes time, but you can reach there with positive choices.
Dr. Sunil Gupta
MD Psychiatry (Gold Medalist)Leave a reply →