According to WHO, 56,675,969 people suffer from depression in India as of 2015; i.e. 4.5% of India’s population. 36% of Indians are likely to suffer from major depression at some point in their lives. The total estimated number of people living with depression increased by 18.4% between 2005 and 2015. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the age group 18-29 years.
On an average in India, 20.9 people commit suicide per every 100,000 people.
More women are affected by depression than men.
Depression is different from sadness or grief/bereavement. The death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences for everyone to endure. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations.
Those experiencing loss often might describe themselves as being “depressed.”
In grief, painful feelings come in waves, often intermixed with positive memories of the deceased. In major depression, mood and/or interest (pleasure) are decreased for most of two weeks. In grief, self-esteem is usually maintained. In major depression, feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are common.
So then, what is Depression?
There are many myths surrounding therapy and depression. Though it is important to know what depression is, it can be equally important to know what depression is not.
Depression is not simple sadness. Most of us get upset when life doesn’t go our way. But someone with depression can feel so bad they struggle to do everyday activities like eat or bathe. To count as depression, the sadness must be a constant, long-lasting feeling.
Depression is not a sign of weakness. Although depression can sap your energy or motivation, having the condition does not meant you are lazy. In fact, many people with depression put forth double the effort to simply get through their day.
Depression is not forever. People with depression can feel hopeless about recovery, especially if they have had the condition for a long time. Yet most forms of depression are very treatable.
Triggers are emotional, psychological, or physical events or circumstances that can cause depression symptoms to appear or return. These are some of the most common triggers:
Stressful life events, such as loss, family conflicts, and changes in relationships.
Incomplete recovery after having stopped treatment too soon
Sign And Symptoms: There are certain signs and symptoms that can help you understand what depression is and seek help accordingly. Here is a checklist which can help you know whether you are actually depressed or not.
Behavioural Symptoms Of Depression:
“I want to withdraw from close family and friends (preferring to stay alone most of the time)”
“I don’t want to go out”
“I have stopped enjoying usual activities (ex: watching a movie or going out with friends)”
“I have started relying on alcohol and sedatives”.
Physical Symptoms Of Depression:
“I feel tired all the time”
“I am feeling sick”
“I have frequent headaches, stomach or muscle pains”
“I have sleep problems (increased or decreased sleep than usual)”
“loss or change of appetite”
“Significant weight loss or gain”
Thoughts Caused By Depression:
“I am a failure”
“It’s my fault”
“Nothing good ever happens to me”
“I am worthless”
“There is nothing good in my life”
“Things will never change”
“Life is not worth living”
“People would be better off without me”
Although there are known, effective treatments for mental disorders, between 76% and 85% of people in low- and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their disorder. Living with depression can be difficult, but treatment can help improve your quality of life. Talk to your healthcare provider about possible options.
Depression is very treatable. In fact, with the right treatment, 80% of people with depression feel better or no longer experience symptoms at all. Some common treatments, used on their own or in combination are:
Alongside counselling, medication may be prescribed to help sufferers who are experiencing moderate to severe depression. Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression symptoms.
Light Therapy (Phototherapy): Exposure to doses of white light can help regulate one’s mood and improve symptoms of depression. Phototherapy should only be used when recommended by a doctor and is often used with psychotherapy or medication to achieve the best effects.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Cognitive behavioural therapy is among the recommended therapies for treating depression. This therapy is based on the premise that the way we behave and think affects the way we feel.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy combines elements of cognitive therapy and mindfulness techniques (breathing exercises and meditation) to help break negative thought patterns.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): Interpersonal therapy focuses on how your mental health affects your relationships and how your relationships affect you. IPT is focused on individual’s relationships with people around them, and problems that they might be having with them.
Group Therapy: One of the main benefits of this type of therapy is the support network of peers that are going through the same sort of issues. It aims to encourage an individual to share their experiences and work on understanding themselves better.
Art Therapy: Art therapy uses artistic mediums to help individuals explore their emotions in a new way. It uses art as a form of communication – this is especially good for those who find it difficult to verbalize their feelings.
Pets For Depression: Pets relieve stress by providing love and companionship. Research shows that animal-assisted therapy can also decrease agitation that often goes with depression.
The Role Of Social Support: Since loneliness often accompanies depression, having good relationships and social support can be an important part of recovery from this illness. Joining a support group, either in person or online, having regular contact with loved ones, or joining a club can help ward off becoming socially isolated. Spiritual connection, either with other people at a place of worship or just believing in a power bigger than oneself, can help decrease depression as well.
Living With Depression
The most important part of living with depression is not giving up. If you stay focused and consistent with treatment, your mood will improve over time. These are some do’s and don’ts that might help work towards recovery:
Get involved in activities that make you feel good or feel like you have achieved something.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. Both make depression worse. Both can cause dangerous side effects with antidepressant medicines.
Exercise regularly. It makes body feel better. Exercise causes a chemical reaction in the body that can boost mood. The goal should be exercising 4 – 6 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time.
Eat balanced meals and healthy foods.
Get plenty of sleep. Keep your sleep routine consistent.
Set small goals, if one has low energy.
Don’t isolate yourself. Stay in touch with friends, family, your spiritual advisor, and your therapist.
Don’t let negative thoughts linger in your mind. Don’t talk badly about yourself. Don’t expect to fail.
Don’t blame yourself for your depression.
Don’t make major life decisions while you are depressed. This includes marriage, divorce, separation, quitting your job, etc. You may not be thinking clearly while you are depressed. If you must make an important decision, ask someone you trust to help you.
Don’t set an unrealistic schedule.
Don’t get discouraged. It will take time for your depression to lift fully. Be patient with yourself.
Don’t give up.
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