Depression has no single cause; often, it results from a combination of things. You may have no idea why depression has struck you.
Whatever its cause, depression is not just a state of mind. It is related to physical changes in the brain, and connected to an imbalance of a type of chemical that carries signals in your brain and nerves. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.
Some of the more common factors involved in depression are:
Family history. Genetics play an important part in depression. It can run in families for generations.
Trauma and stress. Things like financial problems, the break-up of a relationship, or the death of a loved one can bring on depression. You can become depressed after changes in your life, like starting a new job, graduating from school, or getting married.
Pessimistic personality. People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at higher risk of becoming depressed. These traits may actually be caused by low-level depression (called dysthymia).
Physical conditions. Serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and HIV can contribute to depression, partly because of the physical weakness and stress they bring on. Depression can make medical conditions worse, since it weakens the immune system and can make pain harder to bear. In some cases, depression can be caused by medications used to treat medical conditions.
Other psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and (especially) substance abuse often appear along with depression.
Who Gets Depression?
Although depression can make you feel alone, 16% will have it during their lifetime. While depression can affect anyone, its effect may vary depending on your age and gender.
· Women are almost twice as likely to become depressed as men. The higher risk may be due partly to hormonal changes brought on by puberty, menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy.
· Men. Although their risk for depression is lower, men are more likely to go undiagnosed and less likely to seek help. They may show the typical symptoms of depression, but are more likely to be angry and hostile or to mask their condition with alcohol or drug abuse. Suicide is an especially serious risk for men with depression, who are four times more likely than women to kill themselves.
· Elderly. Older people may lose loved ones and have to adjust to living alone. They may become physically ill and unable to be as active as they once were. These changes can all contribute to depression. Loved ones may attribute the signs of depression to the normal results of aging, and many older people are reluctant to talk about their symptoms. As a result, older people may not receive treatment for their depression.
More than 14 Egyptians, or more than 6 percent of adults, experience depression in any given year. Despite these statistics, depression is not a normal part of life, regardless of your age, sex, or health status.
The good news is that depression is very treatable. Most patients, even those with severe depression, show improvement after they seek treatment. Your doctor will prescribe treatment based on the pattern of your depression, its severity, persistence of symptoms, and history.
Some treatment tips to keep in mind:
It takes time for antidepressants to work. Although you may start to feel better within a couple of weeks, the full antidepressant effect may not be seen for several weeks. It is important to be patient and give the medicine a chance to work.
Antidepressant medications work for many people; they can make you feel better, and can improve or completely relieve your symptoms. But sometimes people have unrealistic fears or expectations about them. Some hope to feel better overnight; others worry that medications will change their personalities in ways they won't like. Both extremes are unlikely. The first step towards getting better and staying better is to take your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
Some of the therapy approaches used to treat depression are cognitive-behavioural, interpersonal, psychodynamic, and group therapy. There are several types of therapists, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, who work with people who have depression. Finding the right therapist is an important step on the road to recovery.
One Case History:
Lately Mona hasn't felt like herself. Her friends have noticed it, too. Salma was surprised when Mona turned down her invitation to go shopping last Friday (she always loves to shop). There was really no reason not to go, but Lindsay just didn't feel like it. Instead, she spent most of Friday sleeping. But staying in more than usual isn't the only change in Mona. She's always been a really good student, but over the past couple of months her grades have fallen pretty dramatically, and she has trouble concentrating. She's even failed a couple of tests, and she hasn't yet turned in a paper that was due last week.
When she gets home from ballet practice, she's not hungry for dinner. Though she usually manages to eat a little something with her family, she just doesn't have much of an appetite - and nothing seems to taste as good as it used to. After dinner, Mona goes to her room, does a bit of homework, and goes to bed. She's not even in the mood to watch TV or talk on the phone with her friends.
When her mother asks her what's wrong, Mona feels like crying but doesn't know why. Everything seems wrong, yet nothing particularly bad has happened. Mona just feels sad all the time and can't shake it. Mona may not realize it yet, but she is depressed.
The term DEPRESSION refers to:
· A lasting sad mood and/or
· Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities.
Depression is very common and affects as many as one in eight people in their teen years. It affects people of every colour, race, economic status, or age; however, it does seem to affect more females than males during adolescence and adulthood.
Depression has now reached epidemic proportions in most Western societies, and with orthodox treatment only offering medication with serious side-effects, recovery is often a long and painful process. But now a new solution is emerging that is safe, effective and entirely natural; by ensuring an adequate supply a nutrient contained in oily fish, as an example.
Depression is a real medical condition:
Depression can affect anyone:
For a doctor to decide that someone is clinically depressed, the person must have five or more of these symptoms and at least one must be either of the first two main symptoms of depression. Also, these symptoms must last for at least two weeks. The symptoms should be serious enough to cause worry and to get in the way of the person's work, social life, or daily life.
If you have had some of these depression symptoms and they have lasted for at least two weeks, you should see your doctor to find out what the cause could be.
Depression is a treatable illness.
If you think you or someone you know might suffer from depression, check with your nearest clinic. Only a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional can diagnose depression. He will explain:
1. Why depressed people feel exhausted so much of the time and what causes them, along with other symptoms;
2. What the best types of therapy or counselling are for depression, and how to choose a good counsellor;
3. How therapy and counselling compares to drug treatments for depression;
4. The latest understanding of what depression actually is; and…
5. What you can do today to start feeling better.
Depressed people might also have problems with digestion, such as dry mouth, nausea, constipation and, less commonly, diarrhoea. Being worried, anxious, or irritable all the time could also be hidden signs of depression. Only a doctor or other qualified professional can diagnose depression.
Depression-Related Mood Disorders:
Depression can severely disrupt your life, affecting your appetite, sleep, work, and relationships.
The symptoms that help a doctor identify depression include:
· constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension
· decreased interest or decreased pleasure in usual activities or hobbies
· loss of energy and feeling tired despite lack of activity
· a change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
· a change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
· restlessness or feeling slowed down
· decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
· feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
· thoughts of suicide or death
If you are experiencing any or several of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not you are suffering from depression.
Dysthymia is another mood disorder. People who have it may feel mildly depressed on most days over a period of at least two years. They have many symptoms resembling major depression, but with less severity.
Symptoms of depression may surface with other mood disorders. They include seasonal major depression (also known as seasonal affective disorder), postpartum depression, and bipolar disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder has symptoms that are seen with any major depressive episode. It is the recurrence of the symptoms during certain seasons that is the hallmark of this type of depression.
Postpartum Depression is a type of depression that can occur in women who have recently given birth. It typically occurs in the first few months after delivery, but can happen within the first year after giving birth. The symptoms are those seen with any major depressive episode. Often, postpartum depression interferes with the mother's ability to bond with her newborn. It is very important to seek help if you are experiencing postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is different from the "Baby Blues", which tend to occur the first few days after delivery and resolve spontaneously.
Bipolar disorder, another mood disorder, is different than major depressive disorder, and has different treatments. Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is an illness that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. These mood shifts are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through. The symptoms of bipolar disorder include episodes of mania, or dangerous “highs” as well as episodes of depression with devastating “lows”. People with bipolar disorder often experience periods of normal mood between episodes.
1. Take charge of your health one step at a time.
Depression is not something you can just "snap out of." It's caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, along with other factors. And, like any serious medical condition, depression needs to be treated.
Some people say that depression feels like a black curtain of despair coming down over their lives. Many people feel like they have no energy and can't concentrate. Others feel irritable all the time for no apparent reason. The symptoms vary from person to person, but if you feel "down" for more than two weeks, and these feelings are interfering with your daily life, you may be clinically depressed.
Most people who have gone through one episode of depression will, sooner or later, have another one. You may begin to feel some of the symptoms of depression several weeks before you develop a full-blown episode of depression. Learning to recognize these early triggers or symptoms and working with your doctor will help to keep the depression from worsening.
Most people with depression never seek help, even though the majority will respond to treatment. Treating depression is especially important because it affects you, your family, and your work. Some people with depression try to harm themselves in the mistaken belief that how they are feeling then, will never change.
2. Life with depression:
Working with your doctor, you can learn to manage depression. You may have to try a few different medications to find the one that works best for you. Your doctor may also recommend that you see a therapist and/or make certain lifestyle changes.
Change won't come overnight - but with the right treatment, you can keep depression from getting worse.
Over 2 million Egyptian adults have bipolar disorder, a disorder once known as manic depression. The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unclear, but it is believed to be linked to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. While there is currently no cure for bipolar disorder, it is treatable. With the help of the right medication and support, remission of symptoms is possible.
Finally, do not be embarrassed or shy to seek help. Depression is just another type of illness and can be completely cured, if you seek the right professional help. You will be amazed at how your whole outlook on life will seem, after that, and wonder even why you were depressed in the first place. Nothing is worth damaging your health, nor your spirit. Needless to say, seek solace through your religion, but start by loving yourself, and you will notice that many others love you too.