Depression Awareness 2019
What Is Depression?
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Depression Is Different from Sadness or Grief/Bereavement
The death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences for a person to endure. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations. Those experiencing loss often might describe themselves as being “depressed.”
But being sad is not the same as having depression. The grieving process is natural and unique to each individual and shares some of the same features of depression. Both grief and depression may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from usual activities. They are also different in important ways:
In grief, painful feelings come in waves, often intermixed with positive memories of the deceased. In major depression, mood and/or interest (pleasure) are decreased for most of two weeks.
In grief, self-esteem is usually maintained. In major depression, feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are common.
For some people, the death of a loved one can bring on major depression. Losing a job or being a victim of a physical assault or a major disaster can lead to depression for some people. When grief and depression co-exist, the grief is more severe and lasts longer than grief without depression. Despite some overlap between grief and depression, they are different. Distinguishing between them can help people get the help, support or treatment they need.
How to support someone with depression
If left untreated, depression is a gateway to further health problems, and also the leading cause of suicide.
When dealing with a colleague or someone you are close to and whom you suspect may be suffering from depression, encourage them to seek treatment, as they would for any ailment.
Symptoms of clinical depression include:
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood.
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex.
Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism.
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness and self-reproach.
Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.
Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain.
Decreased energy, fatigue and feeling run down.
Increased use of alcohol and drugs; may be associated but not a criterion for diagnosis.
Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts.
Restlessness, irritability, hostility.
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions.
Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.
Deterioration of social relationships.
How you can support someone who is depressed
Take them seriously
Don’t minimise their feelings by saying “Chin up” or “This too shall pass”. Acknowledge what they are saying and validate their feelings by giving an appropriate response, such as “This must be difficult for you to deal with”. They need to know that the emotions, or sometimes the lack thereof, are a real issue and not to be swept aside.
Listen to them
While you may be tempted to deep dive into their issues, what your colleague or friend needs most is a safe place to air their thoughts and feelings. If they do feel like sharing, ask them open questions like “What do you find helps you feel better?”
Respond to any hints of self-harm or talk of suicide.
Lastly, take care of yourself. It can be tiring to support someone who is dealing with clinical depression. Set boundaries and monitor your own emotional well-being and seek out support for yourself if you feel overwhelmed.
How Is Depression Treated?
Depression is among the most treatable of mental disorders. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment. Almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms.
Before a diagnosis or treatment, a health professional should conduct a thorough diagnostic evaluation, including an interview and possibly a physical examination. In some cases, a blood test might be done to make sure the depression is not due to a medical condition like a thyroid problem. The evaluation is to identify specific symptoms, medical and family history, cultural factors and environmental factors to arrive at a diagnosis and plan a course of action.
Medication: Brain chemistry may contribute to an individual’s depression and may factor into their treatment. For this reason, antidepressants might be prescribed to help modify one’s brain chemistry. These medications are not sedatives, “uppers” or tranquilizers. They are not habit-forming. Generally, antidepressant medications have no stimulating effect on people not experiencing depression.
Antidepressants may produce some improvement within the first week or two of use. Full benefits may not be seen for two to three months. If a patient feels little or no improvement after several weeks, his or her psychiatrist can alter the dose of the medication or add or substitute another antidepressant. In some situations, other psychotropic medications may be helpful. It is important to let your doctor know if a medication does not work or if you experience side effects.
Psychiatrists usually recommend that patients continue to take medication for six or more months after symptoms have improved. Longer-term maintenance treatment may be suggested to decrease the risk of future episodes for certain people at high risk.
Psycho-therapy: Psycho-therapy, or “talk therapy,” is sometimes used alone for treatment of mild depression; for moderate to severe depression, psychotherapy is often used in along with antidepressant medications. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective in treating depression. CBT is a form of therapy focused on the present and problem solving. CBT helps a person to recognize distorted thinking and then change behaviours and thinking.
Psychotherapy may involve only the individual, but it can include others. For example, family or couples’ therapy can help address issues within these close relationships. Group therapy involves people with similar illnesses.
Depending on the severity of the depression, treatment can take a few weeks or much longer. In many cases, significant improvement can be made in 10 to 15 sessions.
For Professional Confidential Counselling, Training and Life Skill Programmes contact
PROCARE 0861 776227