Depression

I miss me. The old me, the happy me, the bright me, the smiling me, the laughing me, the gone me!

Depression is a word that is used a lot in everyday life. We say we are depressed if we don't get what we want, if we fight with our loved ones, if we do not find a job. We even find some films, songs, voices or colours depressing at times. But what we actually mean when we say that we are depressed is that we are feeling 'blue' or down. This is very different from clinical depression.

  • Symptoms / Self-diagnosis tool for depression:
  • Feeling of incompetence or worthlessness
  • Taking a longer time to fall asleep and wake up and other sleep disturbance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling of uncalled for anxiety
  • Excessive tiredness but not enough activities to support the tiredness
  • Disinterestedness in daily routine, mood swings, irritable to trivial matters
  • Giving importance to only the self and the home is the priority
  • General feeling of being unwell frequently
  • Feeling of pointlessness in life
  • Thoughts about death and suicide irrespective of whatever one does.

What causes Depression?

  • Bereavement
  • Unemployment
  • Child birth
  • Marriage, marital problems, divorce or separation
  • Physical illness or chronic pain
  • Loss of loved pet
  • Moving into a new house, promotion or new job
  • Loneliness or loss of a dear friend
  • Being a victim of a crime
  • An accident even if there is no serious injury
  • Alcohol or drug addiction
  • Financial difficulties
  • Abusive childhood in the past or abusive relationship in the present
  • Low self-esteem
  • Hormonal changes as in menopause.

SO YOU ARE DEPRESSED... WHAT NOW?

  • Since the causes of depression are different in each person, the treatment also has to be different for each person. Treatment can vary from:
  • Usage of drugs
  • Counselling
  • Talking therapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), where the reason for a particular behaviour is identified and treated
  • Psychotherapy
  • Hypnosis
  • Relaxation techniques like deep muscle relaxation, yoga and meditation
  • Helping yourself taking control of depressive state includes:
  • Taking care of your health by not getting over tired
  • Eating nutritious food
  • Following an exercise pattern or taking up a game of interest
  • Starting a hobby, taking a class, building your own support network
  • Learning to recognize the triggers
  • Making a list of good things that happened to you for which you can be grateful
  • Realizing that you are not responsible for anyone else's behaviour
  • Trying to keep a positive attitude
  • Avoiding recreational drugs and alcohol
  • Being kind to yourself by understanding that you have a right to feel sad and avoid blaming yourself and knowing when you need help and not hesitating to ask for help anytime.
  • Nutrition in depression pays more attention to brain friendly foods like:
  • fishes (sardines and mackerel) that contain good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids,
  • moderate intake of carbohydrates that boost serotonin (neuro-transmitter) levels and helps lift depression along with fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains, chicken, avocado, bananas and green leafy vegetables that are rich in B-complex vitamins
  • good amount of protein in the form of milk products, eggs and vegetables that help in building up of neurons (the structural and functional unit of the brain) and in their repair and replacement.
  • dietary supplements help in reducing the strength and frequency of depressive symptoms.
  • The unfriendly foods to the brains include:
  • alcohol that negatively helps in the body's ability to absorb vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
  • caffeine which can over stimulate the nervous system, making a person anxious and worsening depression
  • sugar can be harmful in two ways; the instant energy derived from it is not all that good and it leads to weight gain which in turn wrecks one's self image and worsening depression.
  • Talking about depression and removing stigma shall involve talking about the condition to the loved ones including children according to their age in an unalarming way and giving the optimum space for one to get over it smoothly and uneventfully.
  • Depression not only affects adults and old age but also children who are vulnerable emotionally. Such children can be identified and assessed when they show the following signs:
  • normally an outgoing child suddenly becomes quiet and withdrawn
  • usually an energetic child becomes listless
  • they have experienced family stress, loss of a parent, close friend or a pet
  • change of home where the child misses old friends and familiar surroundings
  • there is a family history of depression
  • bullying at school or neighbourhood
  • lower academic performance and the teacher's attitude towards the child
  • loss of appetite or eats for comfort and soothing
  • sleep disturbances
  • complaining of vague aches and pains, sore throat, tummy aches
  • aggression or reckless behaviour.

We must understand that everyone is vulnerable to depression at some point of time in their life. It's just that because of personal background, experiences, genetics or something far from understanding, that some people are more likely to become depressed than others easily.

So let us break the stigma and stereotype in depression by liberating ourselves in a healthy way!

Article by Dr. Mahalakshmi
Psychologist, Kauvery Hospital

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