Life presents itself to us with a mixture of emotions. Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry. Happiness and sadness are like two sides of the same coin. When we are happy the whole world looks picture perfect and when we are depressed we feel like we are drowning in the ocean of grief. It is only when a person does not overcome this depression that it becomes a major cause of concern.
Depression- More than just sadness
If you are feeling low and worthless and wishing that the world comes to an end, then probably you are suffering from depression. As per the World Health Organization (WHO) depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide in the 21st century affecting nearly 120 million people worldwide.
When you are depressed, you may feel low and cry often. You lose interest in life, sex, and other activities that you usually used to enjoy. You feel helpless, guilt, and worthless. Most of the people suffering from depression also have sleep problems; either they sleep too much or have difficulty going to sleep. Other symptoms include weight gain or weight loss, fatigue, decision making problem, suicidal thoughts and body pains that don’t subside even after taking medication.
Causes of depression
Depression is caused due to stressful situations in life like losing a job, going through a messy divorce, heartbreak or the death of someone you love. Being sick for a long time or taking drugs and alcohol can also lead to depression. What actually happens in a depressed person is that in the brain there is a chemical imbalance due to which the cells in the brain cannot communicate properly with one another. During a depressed condition the areas allotted in the brain for appetite, sleep, thinking and behavior do not function properly. Depression is also known to run in the family. Depression is a combination of environment, biochemical, psychological and genetic factors.
To diagnose depression, the doctor will first ask questions regarding your previous and present health condition. He will then ask you about any family history of depression and then about the symptoms you are experiencing. For complete evaluation a physical examination is also done. The doctor may also recommend certain x rays and blood tests to find out if there is any underlying illness.
The sooner the treatment for depression is taken, the better are the chances of getting over it. You must visit a doctor if you are having symptoms of depression. If the doctor finds that the depression is not due to any illness, then he will refer you to a mental health professional who will do complete evaluation of your condition. Once this is done, medications like antidepressants are given which help in regulating you mood. These must be taken only under doctor’s supervision for the specified period prescribed by the doctor. If any physical disorder is present with depression, the doctor prescribes anti anxiety drugs which should also be taken only under doctor’s supervision.
The doctor may also recommend psychotherapy which includes cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). In cognitive behavior therapy the depressed people are taught how to think positively and in interpersonal therapy the depressed people going through personal relationship problems are taught how to overcome depression. In people who have severe depression electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is recommended in which the patient is given an electric impulse under general anesthesia. This is also called as ‘shock therapy’ and is found to be very effective in severely depressed patients.
The duration of all treatments depends on the severity of the depression and the recovery rate of the patient. It is also important to make certain changes in your lifestyle to overcome depression. Eating healthy, doing regular exercise, taking up a hobby, practicing relaxation techniques and getting emotional support from your friends and family will help a lot to overcome depression.
It is possible to overcome depression by being positive for starts. You must never entertain negative thoughts that pull you down. Never keep blaming yourself for things that happened. Tell yourself that it’s okay to be sad sometimes and you are ready to move ahead. During times of depression do not take any major decisions regarding your personal life or work, all by yourself. Try confiding and taking the opinion of someone you trust in your family or friends. To cheer yourself try to involve yourself in any hobby or activity that will bring you happiness and that will help you keep your mind away from gloomy thoughts. Try exercising daily. This will keep you fit and also change your mood for the better. Avoid alcohol and drugs as they can react with the antidepressant medications you are taking and make your depression worse. It takes time to get over depression so take things slowly and gradually you will find that your depression is doing the vanishing act.
Getting over suicidal thoughts
People who are severely depressed have suicidal thoughts. They feel that life is not worth living. If such thoughts are crossing your mind, then it is very important that you confide in someone you can trust without taking any hasty decision. Make sure you do not have any guns, knives, and drugs in your possession. There is a chance that you may use them to harm yourself in a moment of severe depression. Never stay alone at home. Always keep a member of your family or friends with you all the time. You must let your doctor, counselor, family, and friends know about your suicidal thoughts. They will surely give you the right advice and get you out of these negative thoughts.
Ray of hope
If you think that the rich and famous never get depressed then you are absolutely wrong. Famous personalities like Princess Diana, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Sheryl Crow and Drew Barrymore have all gone through periods of depression in their lives. You cannot avoid feeling sad at times in life, but you should never let the sadness take over your life. When you are depressed, remember that the gloomy clouds of depression will soon pass away and you will soon see the ray of hope again.