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What is Depression?

Depression usually affects how we think, behave, feel and can lead to emotional and physical challenges.

Feeling sad, down, and losing interest or pleasure at some moment in life is normal. But if these feelings persist and affect your daily life negatively, it may be depression.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the primary cause of disability. Unfortunately, no one is immune to depression because it can affect both adults and children regardless of gender. Luckily, in this article, you will learn what depression means, its causes, symptoms, and how you can treat it.

What is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a prolonged feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It usually affects how we think, behave, feel and can lead to emotional and physical challenges. In severe cases, it can cause challenges when going about daily activities and can be life-threatening.

It is also important to note that depression is not something you can snap out of just like that! It may require long-term treatment, psychotherapy, and in some cases, both to get rid of it.

Common Symptoms 

Several symptoms can accompany depression, which can affect your body, moods, or both. Some symptoms may be on and off.

Symptoms may vary based on gender and age.

Depression Symptoms in Men

  • Emotions – a feeling of emptiness, sadness, and hopeless
  • Sexual – lack of sexual desires and low performance during intercourse
  • Mood – restlessness, anger, anxiousness, aggressiveness
  • Behaviors – lack of interest in what you once enjoyed, suicidal thoughts, excessive drinking, and drug use.
  • Physical – headaches, fatigue, body pains, digestive problems
  • Sleeping patterns – sleepless nights, excessive sleep, restless sleep, insomnia
  • Cognitive abilities – low concentration, difficulty in task compilation, delayed responses in conversations.

Symptoms in Women

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression among women is near to twice as men. The following are the common symptoms experienced by women:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Negative thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue

There are types of depression unique to women, such as postpartum depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Symptoms in Teens

Peer pressure, body change are the leading causes of depression in teens.

Symptoms in teens include:

  • Low concentration in school
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Low esteem
  • Feeling worthless
  • Suicidal thoughts

Symptoms in Children

Most people never thought of depression in kids, but it happens. According to the CDC, 3.2% of kids between 3 and 7 have been diagnosed.

Depression in children can cause a lot of challenges when it comes to school work and social activities. Symptoms in kids include:

  • Crying
  • Tantrums
  • Low energy
  • Vocal outburst
  • Clinginess
  • Behavioral change

Symptoms in Older People

Most people think that depression is normal in older people, but it’s not. It should be taken seriously in older people as it can lead to suicide. In most cases, depression goes unnoticed and, therefore, unattended in older adults as they may be reluctant to seek help. Depressed older adults may experience:

  • Body ache
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Isolation
  • Loss of appetite and fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Personality change

Causes of Depression

There is no known cause of depression. But, just like other mental problems, some factors may trigger it, including:

  • Hormones – an imbalance of hormones may trigger depression. Hormonal imbalance can result from a pregnancy that leads to postpartum after delivery.
  • Biological differences – depressed people have physical changes in their brains. Although its consequences are not certain, the change may lead to depression.
  • Inherited traits – depression is most likely to occur in people with relatives who suffer from it. Researchers are still trying to figure out the genes that cause it.
  • Loss of a loved one – some people are struck hard after losing a loved one, leading to health issues, and depression can be one of them.
  • Medical Conditions – Some conditions may lead to depression, including chronic illness, pain, or insomnia.

A history of alcohol or drug abuse may also increase the chances. 

 

Testing

Unfortunately, there is no test to determine depression, but the doctor can diagnose based on your symptoms and psychological state.

The doctor is most likely to ask questions about your:

  • Appetite
  • Thoughts
  •  Moods
  • Sleep pattern
  • Activities

The doctor may also order blood tests or physical examinations because other medical issues can also cause depression. Lack of vitamin D and thyroid problems can lead to symptoms.

Types

There are two major types of depression depending on the severity of it. They are:

Major Depressive Disorder

A major depressive disorder is the most severe type of depression. A person suffering from major depressive disorder may experience hopelessness, worthlessness, and sadness that does not go away on its own.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

This is a chronic but a bit milder type of depression.

For it to be diagnosed, it must have lasted for more than two years. The persistent depressive disorder may have a considerable impact on your life because it lasts for a more extended period.

If you have PDD, you may:

  • Feel hopelessness
  • Lack of interest in daily activities
  • Have low esteem

 

Treatments 

Luckily, Depression is treatable if diagnosed correctly. Here are some top ways that can help manage:

  • Support – this involves discussing practical solutions in educating family members.
  • Psychotherapy – also referred to as talking therapy, psychotherapy may include one-on-one counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Drug treatment – a doctor may recommend antidepressants for depression.

Drugs sides effects may include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Low blood sugar
  • Weight loss
  • Rash
  • Sexual dysfunction

One should only use drugs as prescribed by the doctor. Some may take a while before indicating positive results, and therefore you should take them with much patience.

You should also ensure to complete the dose rather than stopping once your symptoms improve, failure to which you may develop a relapse. If you want to stop the treatment, consult your doctor first.

Related: How to Manage Your Emotions and Improve Your Mood

 

Final Thought

Depression is a serious mental disorder that requires much attention. If you have the above-listed symptoms for not less than two weeks, consult your doctor so that you can get help before it’s too late.

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Samuel Njoroge

MODEL: Samuel Njoroge

Samuel (he/him) is a freelance writer, blogger, copywriter, and marketer. And a career spanning three years and enjoys crafting error-free content that increases subscriptions and sales. Samuel excels in mental health, self-improvement, technology, and marketing topics.