What is Depression?
- Depression is a chronic, long lasting or recurring and treatable disorder, where the patient experiences sadness, worthlessness, loss of motive, loss of interest and/or hopelessness.
- Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days.
- When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you.
- Depression is a common but serious illness.
- A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the mood and thoughts and in simple words can be expressed as persistent sad mood.
- Depression affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things.
- Depression does not affect one person alone but has its repercussions on his entire family, friends as well as his work.
- Depression is much more common than we believe. However to get precise figures in terms of its prevalence is difficult as many of them go undetected and untreated.
- Women are twice more often affected with depression than men.
What are the different forms of depression?
Major depressive disorder, or major depression:
This is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Some people may experience only a single episode within their lifetime, but more often a person may have multiple episodes.
Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia:
This is characterized by long-term (2 years or longer) symptoms that may not be severe enough to disable a person but can prevent normal functioning or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.
This is characterized by having symptoms for 2 weeks or longer that do not meet full criteria for major depression. Without treatment, people with minor depression are at high risk for developing major depressive disorder.
Some of the unique forms of depression are as follows;
- Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
- Postpartum depression, which is much more serious than the “baby blues” that many women experience after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.
What are the causes of Depression?
- Genetic factor: People who have any of their blood relations suffering from depression are more prone to develop this condition and it has often been seen to run in families. Research is still going on to find out which particular gene is responsible for the same.
- Environmental factors: Certain situations in life such as loss of loved ones, major financial loss, difficult relationship, immense disappointment of any kind in life, physical or sexual abuse, etc. can trigger off depression. History of persistent deprivation in infancy is also associated with the development of depression at a later stage in life.
- Gender: After puberty, women are twice as likely to develop depression as compared to men. Before puberty, the incidence largely remains the same for both the sexes.
- Neurotransmitters. These naturally occurring brain chemicals linked to mood are thought to play a direct role in depression.
- Hormones. Changes in the body’s balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.
- Early childhood trauma. Traumatic events during childhood, such as abuse or loss of a parent, may cause permanent changes in the brain that make you more susceptible to depression
- Biochemical factors: Levels of chemical substances in the brain, especially serotonin and nor epinephrine, are linked to depression. However, it's still not clearly defined whether the change in their levels is the cause of depression or caused due to depression.
- Drugs: Depression can occur as a result of certain drugs especially corticosteroids, anti-parkinsonism drugs, levodopa; hypotensives like methyldopa, reserpine; cytotoxic drugs like vincristine, vinblastine, etc.
- Suffering from physical ailments especially chronic ones like heart disease, cancer, HIV can be the cause for developing depression.
What are the Symptoms of Depression?
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
- Weight gain or loss that is not intentional
- Feeling helpless
- Feeling of being worthless or of no use
- Fatigue, lethargy
Diagnosis for Depression:
- Physical exam. This may include measuring your height and weight; checking your vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure and temperature; listening to your heart and lungs; and examining your abdomen.
- Laboratory tests. For example, your doctor may do a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC) or test your thyroid to make sure it’s functioning properly.
- Psychological evaluation. To check for signs of depression, your doctor or mental health provider will talk to you about your thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. He or she will ask about your symptoms, and whether you’ve had similar episodes in the past. You’ll also discuss any thoughts you may have of suicide or self-harm. Your doctor may have you fill out a written questionnaire to help answer these questions.
Are you suffering from Depression? Here are the Diagnostic criteria for depression:
To be diagnosed with major depression, you must meet the symptom criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
To be diagnosed with major depression, you must have five or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period. At least one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure.
Symptoms can be based on your own feelings or may be based on the observations of someone else. They include:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, such as feeling sad, empty or tearful (in children and adolescents, depressed mood can appear as constant irritability)
- Diminished interest or feeling no pleasure in all — or almost all — activities most of the day, nearly every day
- Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day (in children, failure to gain weight as expected can be a sign of depression)
- Insomnia or increased desire to sleep nearly every day
- Either restlessness or slowed behavior that can be observed by others
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
- Trouble making decisions, or trouble thinking or concentrating nearly every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or a suicide attempt
Treatment for Depression:
- Homeopathy can effectively treat most forms of depression with good results. Research done in the past has also shown that significant improvement in depression symptoms and betterment in the quality of life of patients was clearly evident after homeopathic treatment.
- The duration of treatment for depression may vary from case to case and depends on several factors such as duration of the condition, its severity and its impact on the patient
- Homeopathy can positively influence personality traits that are working at the base of disease. The important aspect is that depression is a disease in which genetic make-up is topped with environmental stress result in disease.
- Homeopathic medicines are very deep acting and having potential to counter genetic tendencies.
- Homeopathy medicines address the root cause of the disease and hence prevent the relapse and recurrence of the condition.
- Last but not the least, homeopathy medicines are absolutely free from any side-effects as opposed to most of conventional medicines like anti-depressants and anxiolytics.