Depression is a serious health issue–do not confuse it with just “feeling low.”
We’ve all felt down, lonely, or exhausted. It’s a part of life, right? But what happens when those feelings of hopelessness, sadness and fatigue continue for long periods of time and prevent you from enjoying life and being active? Most of us brush off these feelings and say to ourselves “I’ll be fine. It’s just a phase.” But the truth is it could be something more serious and signify that it’s time to seek medical or professional help. Before that, however, there tends to be a lot of confusion, and even stigma, associated with depression. Let’s begin by better understanding what exactly depression is.
Depression is a serious and common medical condition that negatively affects how you feel, think, and engage in daily activities. It also often affects your appetite and sleep patterns. It can cause persistent feelings of sadness, inadequacy, and/or a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed. If not treated, it can bring about emotional and physical problems and can hinder your ability to be productive at school, work, or at home.
More than half the people who have depression don’t even recognize the symptoms, and even fewer receive a formal diagnosis or actively engage in treatment. Therefore, paying attention to the signs is crucial. Here are some common indicators that may point to depression:
• Persistent sad, or “empty” feelings• Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed• Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and helplessness• Pessimism and constant negative thoughts• Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much• Drastic changes in appetite—weight loss or gain• Consistent aches, pains, headaches or cramps• Fatigue• Slowed movements and speech• Suicidal thoughts or attemptsThose who suffer from depression have a collection of symptoms that last for at least a two week period, if not longer.So what exactly causes depression?It’s important to understand that depression can affect anyone. Famous personalities like J.K. Rowling, Deepika Padukone, Sophie Turner and numerous others spoken up about their experiences with depression. There are some factors that can put certain people more at risk:
- Biochemistry: Chemical imbalances in the brain can contribute to low mood or mental states.
- Hormones: Hormonal fluctuations may trigger depressive episodes. For example, hormonal changes experienced by women, particularly during puberty, menstrual cycles, and following pregnancy may trigger depression.
- Genetics: A history of depression can be found through generations of a family. Some research has indicated that depression can have a genetic component; however, mechanisms are still unknown.
- Environment: Continuous exposure to hardship such as violence, neglect, abuse, work-life balance issues, or financial pressure can contribute to depression.
- Personality: Typically, people with low self-esteem, high sensitivity to stress, perfectionist tendencies, and pessimistic attitudes are more likely to experience depression.
If you think you have depression or want to talk to someone about your mental health, consult one of our trusted Veera psychologists or psychiatrists here.
Reviewed by Rohini Bagrodia, Ph.D. in training, Clinical Psychologist