What is depression?
Depression is an illness that affects the body, mood and thoughts. It interferes with normal functioning, daily life, and how one feel, think and handle daily activities such as sleeping, eating or working.
It is a global public health concern. It is difficult to estimate the prevalence of depression in Pakistan due to absence of adequate research studies. According to one systemic review in the overall population of Pakistan, the prevalence of depression is 34%. The ratio of girls suffering from depression is almost double than boys, because of early marriage, high fertility rate, low employment, low literacy level, poverty, health care services neither available nor accessible. In Pakistan, women with depression are reluctant to visit a doctor due to stigma associated with mental illness.
7 main causes of depression
People who have a first-degree relative who has depression are at greater risk for developing the disease.
Many life events including job loss, loss of loved one, trauma, problematic relationships, lack of social network.
Some peoples are born with a personality that includes a depressive way of thinking.
Differences in the size and shape in areas of the brain responsible for mood, sleep and appetite.
Chemicals in the brain including serotonin and dopamine are not properly balanced.
Changes in the balance of hormones especially during menopause or during or after pregnancy.
Some illnesses such as hypothyroidism, hepatitis, and head injuries may contribute to depression.
5 signs and symptoms of depression
Depressed mood, sadness, loss of interest or enjoyment in practically all activities, sense of worthlessness or guilt with no reason, loss of interest in sexual activities or desire.
Lack of energy, increase or decrease in appetite, increase or decrease in sleep, pain, feeling emotionally numb, irritability.
Social withdrawal, slowed speech, slowed movements, loss of efficiency in completing tasks.
Hopelessness, loss of self-esteem, concentration and memory problems, trouble making decisions, distractibility, lack of motivation, thoughts of suicide.
Disorders that frequently occur with depression include, Anxiety, panic, eating, personality and obsessive compulsive disorders.
When to see a doctor?
The first step is to visit a mental health professional. It is the neurologist job to do examination, history, and diagnostic imaging to rule out other neurological and health conditions that may have same symptoms as depression before categorizing the problem as psychiatric. After this process of elimination, the neurologist can refer the patient to a psychiatrist for the symptoms suggestive of depression. You can find best neurologist in Lahore or any other city of Pakistan
To be diagnosed with depressive disorder, if display five or more of the above-mentioned symptoms at least once a day over the course of two weeks, make an appointment with psychiatrist for proper diagnosis and treatment. You can find and consult a doctor in any city of Pakistan.
9 effects of depression and stress on brain
Depression can damage the brain permanently and cause some areas of the brain to shrink, and the damage can last even when the disease has stopped. Up to 20% of depression patients never make a full recovery.
There are three parts of the brain that appear to play a role in depressive disorder.
It stores memories. Recurring depressive episodes reduce the size of hippocampus. This can lead to memory problems.
It is responsible for regulating emotions, making decisions and forming memories. Multiple episodes of depression causes prefrontal cortex also shrink.
It facilitates emotional responses, such as pleasure and fear. In depressive disorder, amygdala becomes enlarged and more active. It can result in disturbances in sleep and activity patterns.
Halts the production of new brain cells
It is associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Greater risk for mental illnesses
Including panic disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, drug addiction, and alcoholism.
Brain seize up at worst possible times, exams, job interviews, impairs memory, bad at making decisions.
Lets toxins into your brain
These toxins are associated with brain cancer, brain infections, multiple sclerosis.
Deplete brain chemicals
It can result in anxiety, unfocused, unmotivated, and lethargic.
On top of all that
It is no fun and picnic experiencing these symptoms. It destroys happiness and peace of mind. It wears down mentally and emotionally, and saps the joy from life. It causes excessive worry and fear, anger and frustration, impatience with self and others, mood swings, crying spells or suicidal thoughts, insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams, trouble concentrating and learning new information, nervousness, forgetfulness, mental confusion, difficulty in making decisions, feeling overwhelmed, irritability and over reaction.
How depression can effect one’s life
If left untreated, depression can lead to impairment to live a normal life. Its effects are from annoyance to death. Common effects include anxiety, social isolation, headache, sexual dysfunction, family and marital problems, suicide.
How can i help myself if i am depressed?
- Try to be active.
- Breaking up large tasks into small ones, set priorities and do what you can.
- Spending time with trusted friends or relatives.
- Postponing important life decisions until feel better.
- Discuss decisions with others who know you well.
How can i helped a loved one who is depressed?
- These pro-active steps will reduce wear and tear on brain.
- Help the person to see a doctor.
- Offer support, understanding, patience, encouragement.
- Go out with the person for walks, outings.
- Help the person to adhere to the treatment plan.
- Help by providing transportation.
- Ensure the person that, with time and treatment, the depression will lift.
- Improve the diet including fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate, green tea.
- Daily physical exercise including walking and yoga.
- Start daily meditation practice.
- Mind- body relaxation.
How is depression treated?
- Good Exercise.
- Visit a psychiatrist.
- Psychotherapy – It helps by teaching new ways of thinking and behaving and changing habits that may be contributing to depression.
- Medications (Antidepressants)
Brain stimulation therapies- Electroconvulsive therapy.
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