Depression, biological depression, clinical depression, the blues and major depressive disorder. Several names, one condition.
Sadly, it is considered as a social stigma by many. So, many a times it is concealed by people. The result? Family and friends unknowingly hurt the depressed. They being unaware of the condition of the depressed person talk and behave normally which is not called for in the case of depression. Every word and action may reflect as a trigger for an anxiety attack or depressive behaviour of the person suffering from the disease.
Unfortunately, some do not regard it as a disease but a trivia! But the fact is that it is a dreaded, actual disease with actual biological symptoms.
Today, the number of people suffering from it is skyrocketing as never before. According to the figures published by WHO (World Health Organization) in 2015 more than 300 million people are suffering from depression that is approximately 4% of the world’s population. No wonder there has been 281,124 research studies in 204 countries.
Normal sadness vs. Clinical Depression
Sadness goes away in a day or two as opposed to depression that doesn’t go away for months or even years.
The patient has to have at least 5 of the below symptoms continuously for at least two weeks to be in the category of a depressed.
- Having and irritable mood almost always.
- There is decreased interest in most activities, including the ones that were pleasurable before.
- Loss or gain in appetite or weight.
- Lack of sleep or sleeping excessively.
- Movements are slowed down or restless.
- Tired, low energy sluggish feeling most of the days.
- Worthless and feelings of guilt most of the days.
- Difficulty to think, concentrate, focus, create something and decide most of the days.
- Suicidal tendencies and the urge to die.
No two persons may experience the same set of symptoms. Variations are possible in case of different persons.
There is no discrimination for this silent killer. A person of any gender, age, race, etc. may get affected although women are reported to be more affected by it. Usually, a combination of environmental, genetic, and psychological factors may contribute to it.
How to diagnose it?
As the pathophysiological cause for it is more or less unknown, there are no standard physical or chemical tests to diagnose it.
Generally, a mental health specialist (psychologists or psychiatrists) diagnoses it with confirmation after a general practitioner has done initial diagnosis. But one has to keep it in mind that most of the times the early signs and symptoms are noticed by family and friends of the depressed person. The near and dear ones must not ignore any of the signs of it as the patient may not accept that he/she is suffering from depression. Sometimes the family has to drag the patient to the psychiatrist as the patient would be unwilling to go. The best way can be to deceive the patient regarding making a visit to the doctor.
Is this disease curable? Yes, it is. Little effort is required from the doctor, family, friends and most importantly the patient himself/herself. It may be a combination of modern antidepressant medications and psychotherapy. Also psychotherapy includes interpersonal therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Severe depression may be treated by electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation therapies.
Lastly, managing a depressed person is difficult but not impossible. All that is required is proper treatment, care and most importantly compassion.