Commonest among nerve disorders, depression sufficient enough to warrant professional care, affects at least 51% of general population in America. Almost 30 million Americans suffer from some form of depression at one specific time. Reports indicate that both children and adult population suffer from this illness. However, women are reported to be suffering from this illness, twice as often as men. Unfortunately it manifests in varied forms and symptoms and differ from one person to another. The result of these varied manifestations is that, many times the illness goes undiagnosed.
Symptoms of illness
Although the most common symptom is feeling “red or blue” its presentations may differ from person to person. In fact one may be suffering from depression, even without realizing it. Here are some of the common complaints by individuals experiencing depression.
—Feeling of unexplainable anxiety or jumpiness.
— Becoming unusually irritable
—Insomnia i.e. trouble falling asleep or feeling tired in the morning.
— Various somatic complaints in the form of bodily pain or feeling of malfunctioning in various parts of the body.
—Loss of appetite or occasionally increased appetite resulting in decrease or increase in body rot respectively.
— Loss of pleasure in life. No interest in sex, family, job or hobbies.
— Feeling of guilt or self-reproach.
— Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, including the wish to be dead.
If out of the above mentioned symptoms, at least 5 are present, then definitely one is suffering from depression. Such individuals should seek professional advice.
Causes of depression
Depression can be caused by a variety of factors. Both social stress and biological factors have been incriminated in the precipitation of depression. The depression caused by interplay of various social and environmental factors is called “Reactive depression.” While another type of depression called “Endogenous depression” is due to biological factors. The biological factors cause imbalance of various neurochemical agents in certain areas of the brain. Changes in body chemistry can also cause depression. Various drugs specifically certain blood pressure medications, hypnotic and sedative, amphetamine, can cause depression on their prolonged use.
Because of this heterogeneity in the causation of depression different ways are designed to treat it. If the depression is due to neurochemical imbalance, certain psychotropic drugs called ‘antidepressants’ are helpful in restoring back the lost balance. But if depression is due to environmental factors like, interpersonal conflicts, occupational problems or financial difficulties, counseling is generally helpful. Only trained and medical and _healthcare professionals can impart such counseling. Besides this, community support and realization of individuals’ problems by the other family members also help in alleviating the psychological pain.
It is worth mentioning with some emphasis that depression is a treatable disease. Early detection and institution of the therapy help in minimizing individuals’ suffering. Very good results are seen within a few weeks of the institution of appropriate treatment.
While depressed, the 1mportant thing to remember is that you are not alone. Your family, physicians and other health professionals are fully prepared to help you to deal with and recover from it. Our cultural background teaches us not to reveal any mental illness to anybody outside the family circles. This tendency to keep it secret, results in continued sufferings and sometimes catastrophic end results.
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Article extracted from this publication >> June 21, 1985