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Depression - Cause, Symptoms And Treatment

Updated on December 13, 2015
Depression is a mental illness which should be treated accordingly
Depression is a mental illness which should be treated accordingly | Source

About and Statistics

Talking one day with a friend of mine, she said that depression is something that lazy people invented to find an excuse for their state of being. Of course I was outraged about it and conducted an entire discussion about what depression really is.

Depression is a mental disorder that currently affects over 120 million of people worldwide, and it is predicted to become the second case of disability by 2020, right after heart problems. Some doctors say that by that time, depression will actually occupy the first position worldwide, not the second.

It is usually described as a perpetuate state of sadness and hopelessness, and it affects people of all ages, no matter the statute, gender or nationality. 15% of the population will suffer from depression at some point during lifetime and only 25% of sufferers will follow treatment.

Compared to men, women seem to be more affected by it, with a 3 to 1 ratio, and 2 out of 10 new mothers suffer from postpartum depression.

Causes Of Depression

There are several causes to why depression can occur in someone's life.

There are genetic causes, when children can "inherit" depression from one of the parents. Even if the child is adopted, if it is raised by a depressive parent, the child has more chances of suffering from this illness compared with a child raised by a parent that doesn't suffer from this disorder.

Biological causes refer to when chemical changes produce in the brain. Serotonin, the neurotransmitters and noradrenaline are responsible for keeping us happy. When their composition change or it is affected, depression appears. This is one of the moments when a proper medication is the key to getting better, especially because future episodes of depression are linked to the biological changes that appear in the brain after the first incident.

There are also psychosocial causes that appears due to the surrounding environment and events in our life. Losing one of the parents at a young age (especially if that happens before the age of 10), parents divorcing, suffering from any kind of abuse as a child, losing your job, lack of income or losing high amounts of money and even low levels of education can lead to depression. An important factor that can fasten the road towards depression is stress. Stress can lead to so many other diseases like thyroid problems, diabetes, heart attack and strokes, just to name a few. So lowering the levels of stress in your life is important and can help you stay healthy. A good sleep schedule, sport and a healthy lifestyle can help you fight against stress.

A number of diseases and medication can increase the risk of depression. Diabetes, cancer, hypothyroidism, heart attacks, Parkinson, use of hormones, birth control pills, interferon and even some agricultural pesticides are just a few elements that can trigger depression.

Abuse of any kind, abandonment or loss of a parent during childhood can lead to depression
Abuse of any kind, abandonment or loss of a parent during childhood can lead to depression | Source

Symptoms Of Depression

You have to remember that the diagnosis of depression can only be given by a psychiatrist after talking to the person in question, but there are some signs that can help people see if there really is a problem that should send them to a doctor.

One of the main symptoms of depression is the sadness that a suffering person feels. They have mood swings, they are dropping weight fast even if they are not dieting, or they are gaining weight if they feel the need to eat more than before (usually sweets), they either can't sleep or they sleep too much, not having a restful sleep in none of the situations.

When someone is feeling tired all the time and it fells like every little thing they have to do, at home or at work, seems like a burden and very difficult to achieve is definite sign of depression. They are either too agitated or way too slow, don't enjoy things that they used to before, actually avoiding what it used to be a pleasure in the past, not being able to concentrate, crying very easy, feeling guilty, useless, fearful, self-pity or anxious with no reason.

Teens who are suffering from depression are rather irritated and nervous, than sad.

People who suffer from depression might experience symptoms that misguide them, like head and stomach aches, dizziness, phobias, low libido, joint pains, which will send them to all kind of different doctors, instead of a psychiatrist, having all kind of expensive test and still not finding the cause.

When severe depression instals, the patients can even experience suicidal thought, in some cases acting upon them. Depressed people tend to talk more about death, about how easy would be for them and everybody around them if they just stopped existing, and they have a higher tendency on acting reckless like crossing a red light, putting themselves in risky situations, choosing dangerous sports and so on.

Support of family and friends is essential
Support of family and friends is essential | Source

Treatment For Depression

There are two way to treat depression, through medication and therapy, and you should know that they complement themselves, not exclude one another.

The main problem is to convince the patient that there is a problem which has to be fixed, and make them follow the program until the doctor says otherwise. The main reason to relapse is that patients stop taking their medication and visiting the psychiatrist's office once they start feeling better.

Family and friends are a major player in their recovery. What everybody should know is that the person who suffers from depression needs understanding and affection, not pity. They need to be encouraged to go out and have activities. You can show your concerns but don't overdo it because you can make them close up rather than seek help.

If they have started treatment you will see an improvement in their attitude which you should highlight because that will speed up their recovery, making then want help more and follow the treatment until the very end.

What You Should Remember

It is pretty easy to recognize when a person is suffering from depression. The person in question can see these signs too, but usually people who suffer from depression tend to hide their symptoms, or they refuse to admit there is anything wrong with them. This is why the help of friends and loved ones is essential to make them better.

Depression isn't a sign of weakness or a fad, it is a mental disorder that is independent of the individual. It's not something that someone can inflict to one's self and it can't be controlled or stopped without proper help, through medication and therapy.

Just because someone has everything they could possibly need or want it doesn't mean they can't be depressed. There are a lot of rich famous people who gone through therapy to cure depression, or, in the worst case, they didn't ask for help and the outcome was a tragedy.

If you have many aches and pains and no doctor seems to be able to find out what is wrong, you should consider talking to a specialist. It is indicated to do this at the smallest signs that something might be wrong, or if you have cases of depression in your family, because catching it early in time might make the difference in treatment choices as well as in the period of time it takes to get better.

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    • florypaula profile image
      Author

      Paula 2 years ago

      Yes North. Society plays a very important role in how we see ourselves and our mental health. I know I had my share when I passed 25 and I didn't had a career, a husband, children, a supermodel looking body, and so on. It is hard to embrace how you are and accept that everybody have their own rhythm in life

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 2 years ago from The World (for now)

      I know a lot of people who are depressed and cannot seem to get out of it. It seems to me like depression has increased because there are so many ads about depression and medication for it. I think that many people think that they are supposed to be in certain places in their lives because of media and society and this affects their mind-sets and causes them to be depressed. The way a person looks, the job that they have, the people they are friends with all can contribute to depression. Depression is a problem that has increased because of the demands of the world in my opinion.

    • florypaula profile image
      Author

      Paula 2 years ago

      You are so very right Denise. I am sorry that people see help as a sign of weakness instead of seeing it as it is: a chance to feel good again. Depression is not something to ignore because, unfortunately, the outcome might mean death.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Depression is a difficult problem to admit in ourselves. It is so much easier to see it in someone else, and deny that we have it. It took a good friend who had been depressed before to tell me that I needed to get help. At first, I was just angry with her. When I stopped and thought about it, she was right, however, it wasn't until I felt suicidal that I actually got the help that I needed. Depression is certainly not something to take lightly!