Depression still works as a controversial word for many. There are people around the world who think depression is something being wrong in your head. Depression has become a taboo.
In times when we should come ahead and fight this mental illness, people are more concerned about hiding it from the world. Depression is not a joke. It is just like any other physical ailment.
When a person gets sick, the first he does is visit a doctor, get medications and start the treatment. However, when a person has a mental health issue, they hide it from society, try to solve it on their own, and hardly consider visiting a psychologist.
It is where everything goes wrong. Depression, if left untreated can cause damages worse than other diseases. This quote rightly depicts depression,
“ There are wounds that never show on the body, that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
Once a young client visited me. He was in class 11 when he first realized he had some mental health issues. However, he neglected them thinking it is just a phase.
His parents forced him to take up the science stream in higher studies. The child, however, was never fascinated by the field and wanted to do something in music. The parents were of the orthodox type and thought there was no future in music studies, so, they forced him to take up science.
As he started studying, things started getting worse. He would not understand the lectures and was unable to solve questions. He discussed it quite a few times with his mother, but his father was very ignorant.
Finally, when the mid-sem exams were about the start, the child’s mental health worsened. One, he could not understand anything. Second, the pressure of expectations from his family would stress him. He completely burned out himself trying to cope with everything. The child started getting suicidal thoughts and running away from everything.
On the very first exam, as he sat to give the assessment, he had a panic attack and fainted. His mind could not cope up with his condition anymore.
He was quickly rushed to the hospital, and his parents were called. It was at this time his family realized how they had been ignoring the early signs of depression and anxiety in their child thinking it is just a phase.
The parents finally decided to get him counselled, and it is when they visited me. Today, their son is doing great in music and is in fact working in Mumbai with a top music label brand.
You see, depression can have a very adverse effect on your health. You may not see it immediately, but with time it will spread its roots. It is not like your regular fever where you’ll see the symptoms and take medications.
Depression requires attention and proper treatment. Do not let your depression reach a phase from where there’s no coming back. The sooner you realize this, the better treatment you can get.
What is depression?
Depression, also known as a major depressive disorder is a common and serious mental illness that directly impacts how you feel. It does not show signs and symptoms on the physical body but affects the internal system badly. Most of the time, people ignore the signs to a stage where they become untreatable. However, no matter how severe your depression is, it is always treatable.
Depression influences the way you think or act. It can cause episodes of extreme sadness where you might not even feel like doing something you used to love. Depression is not packed in itself. Soon it starts impacting the emotional and physical health of a person. It can affect a student’s performance in academics or an adult’s performance at the workplace.
Common Causes of Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders seen in people. Depression can affect a person at any age. Many people think children cannot have depression. However, they are wrong! Most clients that come to me for coaching are very young. It is mainly because of the exposure kids get these days that get affected by mental health problems at an early age.
There are many different causes of depression, and we cannot particularly blame one cause. The common causes of depression are:
Many doctors believe depression can be genetic. There is still ongoing research to know if genes can cause depression in the coming generation or not. It is still unknown to science how depression can be linked to genes, but they are sure of a connection between the two.
My mother suffered from chronic depression. Her depression reached a level where she was given electric shocks. Many times when I felt depressed or low, I thought to myself that I have got her DNA. However, I easily overcame my fears and thoughts and so can you. Even if you have a family history of depression, it is in your hands to get past it.
There is no single cause known. In fact, the environment and other factors play an equal role in causing depression.
- Hormonal Problems
Well, it is quite commonly seen that hormones play a crucial role in depression. In women, it is seen that hormonal imbalances are a major cause of depression. Also, depression is more prevalent in women than men. It is mainly because hormones play a critical role in female body systems.
Women often undergo extreme hormonal changes during their reproductive years. Whenever the hormones of women are in flux, the chances of depressive disorders increase. It is experienced during pregnancy, childbirth, menstrual period, or other hormonal change phases.
I have seen many women neglecting early signs of depression, thinking it to be hormonal changes. It ultimately becomes their lifestyle. Stress and anxiety remain and worsen their mental health more. Women should get their depression checked as early as possible.
- Poor Nutrition
As general as it may sound, many people do not know that their diet affects their mental health. A poor diet can contribute to depression in many ways. It is commonly said that “ What you eat is what you become.”
It is exactly why depression is a by-product of poor nutrition. Diet plays a crucial role in every aspect of your body. From physical health to mental health, your diet can improve your overall well-being.
A balanced diet consists of all the important nutrients. If your diet lacks any types of vitamins or minerals required for the development of your brain, the risk of mental disorders increases.
Today’s lifestyle is quite stressful for everyone. Each day people wake and follow a fixed stressful routine to be productive. However, this routine is making us hollow from the inside.
Many stressful life events can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope. It can further cause depression. Cortisol is the “stress hormone. ” Regular events of stress increase these hormones and impact a person’s mental health. It further contributes to depression.
- Loss of a loved one
Humans have to undergo many emotions each day. From happiness to sadness, from anxiety to relief and whatnot. One emotion that every person finds hard to cope with his grief. It is quite natural to feel depressed after the loss of a loved one.
When I lost my husband during my early years of marriage. I did not know real grief until then. When we lose someone we share our life with, we feel hopeless and empty. It feels like a part of us has left us.
The grief period can cause sleep disorders, poor appetite, and loss of interest in one’s favourite activities. All these are the human way of reacting to a loss. However, these symptoms are quite similar to depression.
When these symptoms prevail for a longer period, it can lead to depression. If your grief symptoms do not subside with time or get worse, it may turn to depression.
- Drugs or Substance Abuse
Drugs have become a lifestyle for many people. It is mainly because of social media and wrong television exposure. People from a very young age start doing drugs thinking it is normal.
Another reason is again the stressful lives of people today. The long hour desk-jobs make people stressed, and they find comfort and relief in substance abuse.
Drugs and alcohol extensively contribute to depression. The reliance on these substances for momentary peace has made people forget what real peace means.
It is a common cause of depression in young people. In fact, when people are unable to avail drugs or alcohol, they further experience more depressive episodes.
- Changes in brain
Depression is a vast concept. Researchers are unable to find a specific cause of it, but a chemical imbalance in the brain is what is known to be the main reason. If a person has too much or too few brain chemicals, it can lead to depression.
The chemical imbalance, however, can be treated easily through medications. Psychological treatment like counselling or coaching can also be effective and useful in treating depression.
You see, it is quite normal to feel low some days. We all go through highs and lows every day, and there’s nothing to worry about it. The problem, however, lies in keeping low for many days. If you feel anxious or low for more than fourteen days, you should consult a specialist.
What are the signs of depression?
Depression is more about feeling blue throughout the day. It can be a phase of constant sadness. The symptoms of depression might not be obvious initially, but if you’ll witness carefully there are many signs to look for.
Depression can cause a variety of symptoms. From affecting your mood to affecting your body, the symptoms may come and go.
Here are some signs of depression to look for:
- Mood Swings: The very first sign of depression is a constant change in mood. Many people face these mood swing phases many times a day. The person may feel angry, aggressive, irritated, sad, anxious, or restless in one day.
- Sadness: A person with depression started feeling empty inside. They feel no one loves them or understands them. This makes them very sad and hopeless. They feel empty and lousy most of the time.
- Loss of interest: One very prominent sign of depression is the loss of interest in many activities. Many clients that visit me often complain that they do not find their favourite activities interesting. They start feeling tired easily and keep themselves isolated.
- Suicidal Thoughts: Depression on extreme levels leads to suicidal tendencies. People feel there’s nothing left to live and no one will ever understand what they’re going through. They feel they have no option left other than to take their own life.
- Sleep Pattern: Another commonly seen depression sign is a disturbance in sleeping pattern. A person would either sleep too much or suffer from insomnia. In fact, most people with depression see the change in sleeping patterns as an early sign. It happens because either a person is too afraid to socialize and meet people that they prefer sleeping in their room, or when a person has no interest in activity.
- Sexual Interests: Depression not only affects the mental health, but its impact can be seen in many bodily activities. For instance, you’ll see lack of sexual performance or you might lose interest in sex. It is not because of your partner, but your health that this happens.
- Impact on physical health: After one point, if left untreated, the signs of depression will be visible on your physical health. People may lose weight due to stress and sadness. Other physical symptoms include fatigue or pain in the body. You might start experiencing regular headaches or digestive problems.
- Reduced Performance: The direct impact of depression will be on your performance. Many clients who visit me often complain that they find it very difficult to do their office work or course work. They feel they have no interest or energy to fulfil their tasks. Sometimes people become introverted and even start avoiding going to the office or school.
- Lack of Concentration: Depression is connected to your mental well-being. If you are not healthy mentally, you will not be able to concentrate well. So, if you are a student or working in an office, you’ll take longer to do the same tasks that you did in minutes. This lack of focus is thus reflected in your performance. You might start getting lower grades.
These are some easily recognizable symptoms of depression. You may or may not notice them in the very early stages, but these signs grow with time. Depression cannot go away itself, it needs proper coaching. So, if you experience any such sign, consult a doctor at the earliest.
Depression Treatment is Possible
If you know you are suffering from depression and you’re ignoring it thinking it is a phase and it will pass. Let me tell you, it wont!
Depression is equivalent to any other form of sickness which needs treatment. If you’re confused with the depression treatment options, here are some treatments for you.
To start with the treatment of your depression, you first need to do the following:
- Learn about your depression: No matter what is the level of your depression, you first need to determine the cause of it. It can be due to come medication that you’re taking or any other health ailment. In such cases, these conditions need a treatment first. Take your time and learn about your depression before initiating the treatment.
- Try different treatments: There isn’t a single treatment that works for everyone. Different people find relief with different treatments. You can try single or a combination of treatments like meditation, coaching, therapy, medications, etc.
- Therapy is important: Many people start taking medications on doctor’s consultations and think it is enough. No medication is enough to treat depression. Therapy and coaching are very essential in treating depression. You should alway visit a counsellor to cure depression quickly.
- Stay Patient: Depression cannot be treated in the blink of an eye. It takes time to treat depression. All the treatments of depression take time and patience. People get overwhelmed and exhausted after some time, and it is normal. Recovery has its highs and lows and it can get frustration.
Easy Lifestyle Changes to Treat Depression
Many people underestimate the value of small lifestyle changes that make a big difference. Small changes that you can adopt today to take a step today towards depression treatments.
- Physical Exercise: One small lifestyle change is regular exercise. Physical health and its impact on the body is well-known to everyone. If you are suffering from depression, you need to include any form of exercise in your daily routine. Not much but just 30 to 45 minutes of daily exercise is enough to bring many changes.
- Meditation: Meditation is a simple practise that can bring many changes. It is a great way of improving the overall well-being of a person. Not only the mental health, but also physical and emotional well-being. Just 15-20 minutes of meditation can bring many changes in today’s busy lifestyle.
- Therapy: Therapy is the best way to treat depression. Depression is more about feeling helpless. A person with depression always seeks someone to talk to. A counsellor or a life coach can be a great help to anyone suffering from depression. Attending counselling can bring changes in the fastest way.
- Volunteer More: A depressed person often feels isolated. If you are one of them then volunteering can be of great help. You can involve yourself with any NGO or other such organizations to meet new people and experiences.
- Sleep Schedule: Sleep has a strong effect on the mental health of a person. It also affects the mood and physical health of a person. When you don’t get enough sleep, your symptoms will worsen. Sleep deprivation causes irritability, fatigue and sadness. You should set a fixed sleep schedule for yourself. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each day.
- Improve Diet: One very easy way of recovering from depression is taking proper nutrition and a healthy diet. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet throughout the day will keep your health in check. Small meals keep you energized and prevent mood swings.
- Form Healthy Relationships: Relationships play a critical role in your mental health. The people you surround yourself with have an impact on your mental health. You should form healthy boundaries and understanding with your family and friends.
Depression is not something you should be ashamed of. Do not try to treat or suffer alone. If you see any symptoms of depression in yourself, you should consult a psychologist.
There are many treatments available for depression. There’s nothing you should hide from your family, friends, or doctors. Simple lifestyle changes and therapy is all you need to fight this battle.