24/04/2022 / Mental Health and Wellness

Depression - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Depression has become a global menace and the numbers are continuously soaring. Read on to know the causes of depression and effective treatments.

Depression - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Keerthana A PKeerthana A P

Keerthana A P

Food Technologist, Engineer & Research Associate

Table of Content

Introduction

Global economic giants are talking about increasing their economic and military powers and talks on ‘mental health’ take a very small spot in these capitalism-driven economics. Humans have become mere resources who are there to accumulate wealth and make positive investments in the nation. This is not wrong since everyone needs money to flourish. But what is concerning is people being indifferent about their mental health in search of material benefits. Today, most people can buy whatever they want, can go wherever they wish, and can live life with liberty. If we consider all these factors, people globally would be living without any worries or anxieties. But this is the paradox of development! The modern lifestyle has increased depression among people due to heavy competition, lack of resources, and improper work-life balance. This article talks about the causes of depression, common symptoms, and effective treatments for depression by psychiatrists.

What is Depression?

What is Depression

Depression is a serious mood disorder characterised by constant feelings of anger, hopelessness, sadness, and anger that interfere with everyday activities. People always confuse sadness with depression. While both share some common symptoms, they are not the same. Sadness is a temporary feeling which would reside after some time but depression is a constant feeling of self-loathing and hopelessness. Depression is increasing at high rates globally but it is still a silent cry in India. There is a lack of mental health education and high stigmatisation of people with mental illnesses. This creates a struggle for everyone in the long run. So, we are trying our best to walk you through the understanding of this serious mental illness called depression.

Depression Symptoms 

Depression symptoms

Just like everyone is different, the manifestation of depression in people also varies. Here are some of the most common symptoms of depression in men and women. 

Depression Symptoms in Men 

  • Feeling sad, angry, or anxious

  • Feeling hopeless and pessimistic

  • Lots of emotional outbursts

  • Feeling annoyed and angry

  • Loss of interest in hobbies

Depression Symptoms in Women 

  • Increased fatigue and lack of energy levels

  • Disturbed sleeping patterns, oversleeping or insomnia

  • Overeating or undereating

  • Decreased libido or sexual performance

  • Chronic pain like headache, digestive problems, or cramps

  • Thoughts of self-harm and suicide 

Causes of Depression

There are various causes of depression. They can range from biological to circumstantial. These are the 8 most common causes of depression,

Brain Chemistry

Chemical imbalances in the brain that regulates thoughts, moods, sleep, or appetite are one of the few causes of depression.

Genetics

Having a family history of depression or any other mental disorder makes one susceptible to depression.

Childhood Trauma

Suffering from childhood physical or sexual trauma makes many people develop depression in later stages of life.

Hormones

Change in hormone levels in females like estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy, postpartum, menopause and menstruation can increase the chance of depression.

Brain Structure

Researchers have found the less active front lobe of the brain in people diagnosed with depression. Though the reason for this is still unclear, the observation has been noted in many people during the onset of depression.

Medical Conditions

Chronic illness, insomnia, stroke, or a heart attack can make one highly susceptible to mental illnesses like depression.

Substance Abuse

Substances like nicotine, alcohol, and drugs can plummet heavily on one's mental health.

Chronic Pain

People who are suffering from chronic pain for a long time can cause one to develop depression.

Risk Factors of Depression

Though depression can be due to the above-mentioned causes, some are predisposed to due to the risk factors like,

  • Poor socio-economic conditions

  • Vitamin D deficiency

  • Family history of depression

  • Substance misuse

  • Cardiovascular diseases

  • Chronic pain

  • Birth control medications

Treatment for Depression

1.Medications

Many antidepressants are given for fighting against depression. Make sure to consult your doctor before taking these below-listed medications.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

These drugs are considered safer and generally have fewer side effects than other types of antidepressants. Some SSRIs are citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), sertraline (Zoloft), and vilazodone (Viibryd).

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

Some common SNRIs are duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla), and levomilnacipran (Fetzima).

Atypical antidepressants. 

They include bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL), mirtazapine (Remeron), nefazodone, trazodone, and vortioxetine (Trintellix). Though these medications are used to treat depression, they strictly don’t fit into any antidepressant categories.

Tricyclic antidepressants

These drugs — such as imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), amitriptyline, doxepin, trimipramine (Surmontil), desipramine (Norpramin), and protriptyline (Vivactil) — can be very effective, but have more-severe side effects than newer antidepressants. Usually, Tricyclics aren't recommended unless you've tried an SSRI first without improvement.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

MAOIs — such as tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil), and isocarboxazid (Marplan) but can have serious side effects as they can dangerously interact with your regular diet. Selegiline (Emsam), a newer MAOI that sticks on the skin as a patch, may cause fewer side effects than other MAOIs do.

2.Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is generally a treatment that involves treating depression by talking with mental health professionals. This can be also called talk therapy or psychological therapy.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

In CBT, a therapist will help you in identifying the root causes of your harmful beliefs and thoughts about yourself. You would work on yourself by replacing the negative thoughts with self-affirmations.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)

DBT is similar to CBT but here the unhealthy thoughts are accepted and validated. This therapy believes that one should validate the thoughts to break the unhealthy patterns.

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy helps you in overcoming the toxic and unhealthy beliefs based on your unfortunate childhood experiences. This therapy helps in coping in day-to-day life. You would be asked to reflect on and examine your childhood experiences for coping with your life better.

How to Overcome Depression?

How to Overcome Depression

It has been time, again and again, stressed that depression needs medical interventions for recovery. But there is no harm in trying to overcome depression by adopting lifestyle changes. We would highly recommend you to follow these steps along with professional help as recovery from depression also requires an individual’s conscious efforts.

Find Small Ways for Service

True happiness can be only found in the service of others. It can be as simple as buying some biscuits for a street dog or giving a seat on public transport to an elderly person. This makes you feel good about yourself and helps in fighting self-deprecating thoughts.

Direct Your Energy to Goals

Nothing can be more satisfying than achieving your goals. It gives a sense of pride and increases your self-esteem. Just fix some small goals in your life and celebrate yourself for achieving them.

Follow a Routine

Following a routine keeps you busy with your life goals rather than focusing on your problems. Routine helps you in breaking away from your anxiety and fear, thereby easing your depression symptoms.

Stay in the Present

Someone rightly said that brooding over the past and being anxious about the future is the root cause of all suffering. So, practice mindfulness and be present in the moment. It will surely help you in combating depression.

Do Regular Exercise

Exercise is food to the mind! It lowers the stress hormones and increases the secretion of mood-boosting hormones like dopamine. This helps you to develop a resilient and positive outlook toward life.

Form Meaningful Relationships

Humans are social animals and they find the meaning of life by identifying themselves with the community. So, surround yourself with positive people who have an aura of optimism around them. You would find yourself in a better place mentally if you create some awesome friendships with whom you can relate!

Have a Strict Sleep Schedule

Sleep is one of the most important factors for sustaining good mental health. It relieves your stress and anxiety by bringing down your blood pressure. Staying late at night can increase your constant feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Fix a proper schedule and have at least eight hours of sleep per day.

Take-home Points

  • Depression is a mood depression where the subject experiences constant feelings of sadness, anger, and emptiness.

  • Brain chemistry, genetics, hormones, childhood trauma, medical conditions, substance abuse, and chronic pain are some of the common causes of depression.

  • Treatment with medications and psychotherapy are the most viable choices to ease depression.

  • Along with medications, recovery from depression needs healthy lifestyle choices like proper sleep schedule, regular exercise and a healthy routine.


FAQ on Depression causes, symptoms and treatment

1.What will happen during the depression?

Ans.Depression is a serious mental illness that can cause prolonged sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in almost every activity.

2.What really causes depression?

Ans.Causes of depression are many which include genetics, abuse, childhood traumas, or serious life events.

3.What are the symptoms of depression?

Ans.Losing interest in activities, feeling hopeless and having suicidal ideations are the most pronounced symptoms of depression.

4.What are forms of depression?

Ans.Major depressive disorder, Persistent depressive disorder, Bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, psychotic depression, peripartum depression, situational depression, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder are some of the well-known forms of depression.

5.Who is mainly affected by depression?

Ans.Everyone is susceptible to depression but people who are very young or old are experiencing very high chances of getting depression.

6.Can a mentally ill person live alone?

Ans.Yes! A mentally ill person can very well live alone but care must be taken in case of self-harm or suicidal ideation.

7.How do I stop worrying?

Ans.Worrying is a defence mechanism of the body created due to the fear of the future. Repeated failures or trauma can make one more susceptible to negative intrusive thoughts. If the negative thoughts are affecting your day-to-day life, you can visit a counsellor or therapist.

8.What is the leading cause of major depressive disorder?

Ans.Traumatic or stressful life events like the death of a loved one, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and financial problems are leading causes of major depressive disorder.

9.What is the best way to end depression?

Ans.The best way to end depression is to visit a mental health professional. Anything suggested by unprofessional people like family or friends may not prove fruitful in the long run.

10.How do I stop overthinking and being depressed?

Ans.Only mindfulness can help in regulating intrusive thoughts. Try yoga and meditation to regulate your thoughts. If that doesn’t help, you can try professional help to sort out your overthinking.

11.Can depression cause memory loss?

Ans.Depression and anxiety can cause a lot of forgetfulness or confusion, thereby affecting productivity and decision-making.

12.Can depression cause a heart attack?

Ans.Yes! For people with depression, the risk of having heart disease or coronary heart disease is higher. 


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