Understanding Depression

Do we really know what depression is?

Depression is a common mental disorder. Often people misinterpret usual mood fluctuations which are not extreme and emotional responses like being sad as depression. Sadness is an emotion, which every person experiences during stress or grief, but sadness with a feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness requires attention.

Depression is characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, which affects their daily lives. People experiencing depression often lose interest in activities which were previously of interest, and endure inappropriate guilt, they have persistent feelings of loneliness and are easily fatigued. It takes a lot of effort for them to do their tasks and they often get overwhelmed by them.Their appetite and sleeping pattern are affected, from indulging in it excessively or not indulging in it at all. In many cases they are difficult to identify because their symptoms are not evidently observed, others feel that they are functioning normally. Globally millions of people of all age groups including children suffer from depression. According to the World Health Organisation (2020) more women are affected by depression than men. Many people with depression have suicidal thoughts, which may lead to suicide.

Note: Symptoms and severity of condition varies from person to person, requiring in-depth clinical case history by an expert to get a diagnosis.

Contributing factors of depression-

Environmental Factor- Stress, unemployment, poor lifestyle, lack of sleep, grief over loss of loved ones, lack of leisure time or any traumatic events are some environmental factors contributing to depression.

Genetic factors- Family history with depression or any other mental health problems increases risk for depression.

Individualistic Factor- A theoretical perspective given by Albert Bandura states that human behaviours and their self concepts (beliefs about oneself), are a result of learning through observations or by direct experiences. People with depression have different self concepts than others, they have a tendency to self blame when anything bad happens to them, and this happens because they have set high personal goals then finds it difficult to reach them, and repeated failure to achieve that goal reduces their feelings about not being able to change anything (hopelessness), the cycle of negative thoughts begin which can outgrow as depression. This is one of the many individual factors for what leads to depression.

How depression affects you-

Physical health- Depression can be an outgrowth of a physical illness or can lead to a physical illness. People with life-threatening diseases like cancer, stroke tend to suffer from depression, which further worsens their health. depression also leads to various diseases like cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal problems and aches in various parts of their body. It also has an impact on our immune system.

Mental health- People with depression have difficulty focusing and paying attention. They also have difficulty processing information and regulating their emotions. They are constantly stressed which leads them to feel anxious and overwhelmed. Depression can co-occur with other mental health problems like anxiety disorder, or substance abuse.

Interpersonal relationships- People with depression feel overwhelmed, due to their feelings of sadness, hopelessness and worthlessness, they tend to shut down emotionally. They focus on negative interactions more than positive which makes them unhappy and as they have lost interest in everything which affects their interpersonal relationships, as they victimise themselves or blame others.

Tips to manage our emotions-

Diet/ Sleep patterns- Diet has a direct effect on our mental health. A healthy diet will help to feel more energetic and enhance mood. Ideally, adults require 8 hours of sleep every night, this will improve their attention and help them to focus better on their daily lives.

Scheduling- Following structured schedules and reducing procrastination, will help to have control on daily life. In turn it makes us feel more productive.

Workout- To alleviate mood and release negative energy, exercise, any form of workout at least for 30 minutes everyday.

Reducing stress- To reduce stress and anxiety, practice simple breathing exercises, squeeze soft balls or contact a professional to learn relaxation techniques. Following a hobby, music, creative art practice or mud therapy also helps in reducing stress.

Practice gratitude- People with depression pay attention to negative events in their life and ignore positive aspects, practicing gratitude by appreciating self and others, keep gratitude journal, observe nature’s beauty or watch more inspiring videos everyday will give us an opportunity to reflect on other positive aspects of our lives.

Reach out- People who feel low and hopeless, should start taking support from their loved ones, or trusted family members and friends, they can reach out to them and talk to them.

Seek professional help- One should diligently try to follow the instructions and medication provided by the psychiatrist. Also people can seek professional help to cope with persistent feelings of sadness, or loss of interest which affects their daily lives should reach out for professional help.

Volunteering- Volunteering will decrease the feeling of worthlessness as it generates a feeling of contributing something in the society. It will give opportunity to meet new people and engage in new things.

Depression. (2020, January). Retrieved May 2020, from World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

Nemade, R. (n.d.). Cognitive Theories of Depression- Ellis and Bandura. Retrieved May 2020, from Gracepoint Wellness: https://www.gracepointwellness.org/5-depression-depression-related-conditions/article/13007-cognitive-theories-of-depression-ellis-and-bandura

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