Depression

This video is created by Ted-Ed.

Depression is a common condition that can occur at any age. Of note, it is extremely common amongst young people. It is often associated with impairment to daily living, and can affect our relationships with friends and family.

 

The myths of depression

 

Depression is not just something that “occurs in your head”. It is not something that will go away on its own simply because you want it to. Depression is a clinical condition that can affect people of all genders from all walks of life - it does not only affect women or people who have been through trauma and abuse. You can still be depressed even if you have had a ‘privileged’ life. It is dangerous to assume that only a certain type of people can have (or ‘deserve’) to have depression. For instance, men are less likely to seek help as depression or any display of emotions are often seen as a sign of weakness, which goes against the norms of masculinity. Depression can be treated with medications and therapy, and people can go on to have perfectly normal lives.

 

Signs and symptoms of clinical depression

 

People who have depression should have four of the symptoms below and depression or anhedonia (loss of interest in pleasurable activities) for at least two weeks.

 

  • Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness)

  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

  • Loss of energy or fatigue

  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities/hobbies

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Loss of appetite or eating too much

  • Changes in speech, mood, and movements

  • Suicidal thoughts

 

Other diagnosis related to depression

 

There are medical conditions that can cause a person to experience symptoms of depression. These include Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, hormone imbalances, and medications such as steroids. Anaemia (a condition where the red blood cells are low) may also lead to feelings of fatigue. These conditions should be ruled out as the treatments are different.

 

Additionally, there are other mood and personality disorders with overlapping symptoms, such as bipolar disorder, adjustment disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and borderline personality disorder. Depression is also common associated with anxiety disorder.

 

Treatment for depression

 

There are multiple ways to treat depression; patients are encouraged to undergo a series of lifestyle modification as well as behavioural and psychosocial treatments in addition to pharmacological therapy. There are a range of antidepressants to choose from – your doctor will be able to recommend you a series of medications best suited to your condition and needs. You will be started on a low dose for a few weeks with close monitoring for side effects. These medications may take a while before you notice any improvements in mood.

 

Prognosis

 

Most people with mild episodes will usually go on to have perfectly normal lives after they are started on treatment. The prognosis varies according to individuals, but factors include compliance to treatment, comorbidities with other mental health and substance use disorders, severity of episodes, and previous history of depression.

 

If you are suffering from depression, it is never too late to seek help. You are extremely brave for taking the first step in recognising the symptoms, and you deserve to have a normal life and functioning relationships with friends and family.  For more information, call the local helpline and speak to your doctor on how to get started on treatment.

For more information, please visit: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression