Most times, when we hear the word “Depression”, the first thing that comes to our mind is someone who looks sad, dejected and looking disheveled.
But that is not always the case. First, let’s take an objective look at the definition of depression.
The American Psychiatric association defined Depression (major depressive disorder) as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Depressive disorder (also known as depression) is a common mental disorder. It involves a depressed mood or loss of pleasure or interest in activities for long periods of time.
Depression is different from regular mood changes and feelings about everyday life. It can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including relationships with family, friends and society. It can result from or lead to problems at school and at workplace.
There are Common Types of Depression.
- Clinical Depression (also called Major Depressive Disorders):
This is the most common type of depression. This is a mental health condition that significantly impairs daily living and is marked by a persistently low mood or loss of interest in activities.
Distress stemming from biological, psychological, and social origins are all potential causes. A growing body of research indicates that these variables could lead to modifications in brain activity, including changed neuronal circuits in the brain.
It is reported that there are more than 1.5 million cases of Clinical Depression per year in Nigeria. As bad as this may seem, it is only a medium-term illness and resolves within months after diagnosis and treatment is administered.
- Persistent Depressive Disorders (also called PDD, dysthymia, chronic major depression):
This is a chronic, long-term form of depression. While the symptoms may not be as severe as in MDD, it comes along with at least two other symptoms of depression. This form of depression persists for a more extended period, typically lasting for at least two years or even for a lifetime.
- Bipolar Disorder I (also called Manic Depression):
This is a condition marked by episodes of extreme mood swings, from manic highs to depressed lows.
Although the precise origin of bipolar disease is unknown, a combination of factors such as genetics, environment, and changed brain chemistry and structure may be responsible.
The symptoms of the manic episodes can include excessive activity, a decreased need for sleep, and a detachment from reality. Symptoms of the depressive episodes can include decreased motivation, low energy, and loss of interest in routine activities.
The mood episodes may also come with suicidal thoughts. This disorder is chronic and can last for years or be lifelong. Treatment can help, but this condition can’t be cured.
- Bipolar Disorder II:
This is an extreme form of bipolar disease marked by periods of depression and hypomania.
It includes at least one hypomanic episode lasting four days and at least one depressive episode lasting at least two weeks.
Depressive symptoms include sadness or hopelessness. Hypomanic symptoms include a persistently elevated or irritable mood. If not properly managed, this may last for a lifetime.
This form of bipolar disorder is common an over one hundred thousand (100,000) cases has been reported per year in Nigeria.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
SAD is a type of depression that occurs seasonally, usually in the winter months when there is less natural sunlight. Symptoms include low energy, irritability, and changes in sleep patterns.
- Psychotic Depression:
This type of depression is accompanied by psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions. Individuals may experience a break from reality during depressive episodes.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD):
Occurs in women. PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) characterized by intense mood swings, irritability, and depression in the weeks before menstruation.
- Postpartum Depression (also known as PDD):
This is a form of depression that occurs after childbirth. Those who develop postpartum depression are at greater risk of developing major depression later on in life. Some symptoms of postpartum depression might include insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability and difficulty bonding with the baby.
This is common among first-time mothers. It is a medium-term disorder which lasts for a few months and is treatable by a medical professional.
Generally, Depression affects every aspect of the human body. The possible symptoms of epression include:
Mood: Anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness.
Sleep: Waking up early, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep
Behavioural: Agitation, excessive crying, irritability, or social isolation.
Cognitive: Lack of concentration, sluggishness, or thoughts of suicide.
Weight: weight gain or weight loss
Treatment of Depression
The mainstay of treatment is usually medication, talk therapy or a combination of the two. Receny, research suggests that these treatments may normalise brain changes associated with depression.
Therapy such as Cognitive behavioral therapy, Behavioural therapy and Psychotherapy are best suited to help depressed persons.
Medications such as SSRIs, Antidepressant, Anxiolytic and Antipsychotic should be administered. Medications may take up to six weeks to be effective, so be patient.
Medical Procedure such as Electroconvulsive therapy may be required for severe cases of depression.
Education, lifestyle changes, social support and psychological therapy are important treatments for depression.
It’s important to note that each person’s experience with depression is unique, and individuals may not fit neatly into one category. This means that while one individual may exhibit extreme cases of sadness and isolation as a symptom of depression, another may act calm and collected. Hence, Depression is more than just a fleeting emotional feeling, it is a deep underlying mental health issue which requires professional diagnosis and treatment for managing depression effectively.
Importantly, a patient undergoing depression should take the time to find the treatment that’s right for him/her.