Depression is a serious mood disorder affecting your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. A major depressive disorder or clinical depression is an ongoing feeling of sorrow and indifference that interferes with a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. It can lead to myriad psychosomatic symptoms. You may find continuing your daily routine difficult and life is not worthwhile.
Depression is not just feeling down or weak. It is not a feeling that you can instantly or easily get rid of. Continuing long-term treatment is necessary which may deter patients from seeking help. Treatments like medication psychotherapy or both usually help in most cases.
Once you experience depression, relapse is expected. The depressive state of the mind may come in multiple episodes and common symptoms you may face almost every day are:
- Feeling sad, empty, tearful, or despaired
- Losing temper or feeling upset or annoyed over minor issues
- Disinterest or inability to feel pleasure in most or all daily activities including sex, sports, or hobbies
- Sleep problems including oversleeping or sleeplessness
- Exhaustion and loss of enthusiasm to complete even small tasks
- Decreased appetite and losing weight or increased appetite and gaining weight
- Feeling anxious, restless, or nervous
- Slow reaction or movement
- Feeling unworthy or guilty, unable to move past failures or self-accusation
- Facing concentration and memory problems or having difficulties thinking or making a decision
- Recurrent suicidal ideation or attempts.
- Physical issues such as headaches or back pains with no known cause
In most cases, the symptoms are so extreme that they can disrupt daily life including school, work, and social interaction. Some may feel wretched and sad for no reason.
Depression symptoms in young children and adolescents
The symptoms of depression in all age groups resemble one another, but there may be some dissimilarities.
- Young children: The symptoms include being sad, annoyed, clingy, anxious, underweight, reluctant to go to school, or having pains or aches.
- Adolescents: The symptoms include being sad, annoyed, frustrated, pessimistic, and feeling insignificant. They tend to be highly sensitive, and feel mistaken, lose interest in daily activities, avoid socializing, depend on recreational drugs or alcohol, oversleep, overeat, self-mutilate, skip school, or underperform at school.
Depression symptoms in older adults
Depression is common but not a normal part of aging, the issue should be taken seriously. Older adults with depression may hesitate to seek treatment so they often stay undiagnosed. They may experience different or less apparent symptoms including:
- Personality changes and memory problems
- Physical pain or aches
- Exhaustion, loss of appetite, sleep difficulties, lack of interest in sexual activities –unrelated to medications or medical conditions
- No desire to socialize or try new things; prefer staying home
- Thinking about suicides, particularly in older men
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate medical attention when you feel depressed or talk to your family or friends or someone you trust.
The cause of depression is not yet known. Because the condition is related to mental disorders, multiple factors may play a role.
- Biological differences: Physical changes in the brain have been found in people with depression. Though the importance of those changes is not yet known, they may finally help identify causes.
- Brain biochemistry: The neuronal transmissions inside your brain can impact how you feel. According to recent research, the changes in neurotransmitters and their interaction with neurocircuits may be involved in depression development and a target for its treatment.
- Changes in hormones: Hormonal imbalance may trigger the mood disorder. Changes in hormonal levels may occur during pregnancy, postpartum period, or menopause. You may also experience mood swings when you have thyroid problems or some other conditions.
- Family history: You have a higher risk of developing depression if someone in your family suffers from it.
There have been studies trying to pinpoint depression-related genes.
Depression can happen to anyone of any age. However, it can often start as early as adolescence. Women are reported to suffer from depression more than men. However, it might be that women are more likely to seek medical treatment.
Depression can be developed or triggered by the following factors:
- Negative characters or attitudes include pessimism, self-criticism, excessive dependence, and low self-respect.
- Disturbing or traumatic events including physical or sexual assault, loss of family or loved ones, relationship or financial problems.
- Family history of alcoholism, suicide, depression, and bipolar disorder.
- Being LGBT or born intersex in an unsupportive environment.
- Mental disorders include eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Alcohol or drug dependence.
- Chronic diseases such as stroke, cancer, and heart disease.
- Medications such as sleeping pills or hypertension medicine. It is advised to consult with your doctor before changing or stopping the medications.
Depression is a serious problem that can impact you and people around you. If not treated, the condition often becomes worse and leads to emotional and behavioral troubles as well as health and life difficulties.
Depression-related complications are:
- Being overweight or obese leads to other diseases such as diabetes and heart problems
- Pain or sickness
- Alcohol and drug dependence
- Social anxiety disorder and panic attack
- Relationship conflicts including family, workplace, and school
- Suicidal thoughts and attempts
- Untimely death
No effective preventive measures have been found yet. But it is recommended to try the following:
- Try to control the feeling of stress. Be more resilient, love and respect yourself.
- Talk to your family and friends during traumatic events to let out your emotions.
- Seek medical attention as soon as you feel down and depressed to prevent aggravation.
- Commit to a long-term treatment plan to prevent recurrence.