What is depression?

Depression isn’t as easily understood as say, for example, being sad or depressed or going trough mood swings. It’s a severe mental illness that needs proper treatment. So, let;s try and get at the bottom of this issue so that we don’t repeat the mistake of treating it as something trivial.

How is clinical depression different from feeling depressed?

Clinical depression is a mental disorder. It isn’t merely about feeling sad from time to time about certain downfalls in your life. Although sorrow and sadness can be dealt with by engaging oneself with some kind of uplifting activity, depression doesn’t work that way. Moreover, it isn’t a transient state that can be worked with. It takes hold of you for consecutive weeks at length, acting as a hindrance in your daily functioning.

How can we spot someone suffering from depression?

Depression has many symptoms that include a low mood, losing interest in things that might’ve been your favourite activities, fluctuating diet, feeling worthless or having to deal with excessive guilt. Some other symptoms include a troubled sleep pattern, feeling restless, poor concentration, and worst case scenario- you start having suicidal thoughts.

According to psychiatric guideline, if you’re having to deal wth atleast five of these symptoms, then you’re diagnosed with Depression.

How does depression impact our body?

Other than these somewhat visible changes, Depression also affects your body from the inside. Cases suffering from this disorder may result in smaller frontal lobes and hippocampal volumes.

Furthermore, it also affects the transmission or depletion of certain mood boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

The imbalanced sleep pattern can be attributed to changes in the REM and slow wave parts of the sleep cycle. Hormonal abnormalities are another by product of this disorder. This can cause your cortisol levels to rise rapidly and de-regularize the release of thyroid hormones.

What causes Depression and how can it be treated?

A complete picture regarding this issue seems to be missing but as per what has been gathered, Depression can be attributed to genetic inheritance and one’s environment as well.

Its treatment includes medical interventions and therapy sessions. The combination of both these things helps boost the brain chemicals that were affected by the disorder.

Additionally, some cases even end up requiring electroconvulsive therapy. Other methods involving transcranial magnetic stimulation are still under research.

If you ever spot someone dealing with this difficult situation, approach them to seek help. However, you must keep in mind to do so gently. People suffering from this disorder rarely gather enough courage to seek counselling on their own, which is why we must play our part in helping them as much as we can. Furthermore, we must play our own role in destigmatising this disorder. Our society puts a lot of pressure on such issues and still deals with them insensitively. Therefore, we must engage in open discussions around this matter so that people suffering with this disorder stop feeling guilt-ridden.

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