Understanding and Treating Depression
Depression is a common mental disorder that is characterized by low mood and anxiety, loss of interest in social activities and low self-esteem. Disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration are some of the outcomes of depression.
Today, depression has become the major functional and emotional challenge affecting health, work and social life of a person. Without knowing the real reason, most people feel sad or depressed at times.
A person with depression cannot control his/her feelings, which tends to disrupt the person’s ability to think and work. There can be various reasons that trigger depression, which includes – psychological, physical, nutritional, emotional, social, environmental and spiritual factors.
• The burden of depression is 50% higher in females than males
• Indians are reported to be the most depressed as per WHO
• Average age of onset is around 32 years
• The prevalence of Major Depressive Episodes in India is around 36%
• Higher rates of depression are seen in rural compared to the urban population
• Up to 20% of patients visiting the primary care clinics with symptoms of anxiety and depression may not be recognized
• Long working hours under strict deadlines cause up to 75% of working women to suffer from depression or general anxiety disorder compared to women with lesser workload.
In severe cases of depression – integrated mental health approach – adoption of a healthy lifestyle and medical intervention such as medication and psychotherapies are recommended. In other cases, adoption of a healthy lifestyle will go a long way.
Medical health approach
• Counselling – Talking to a professional can be a great way to treat depression. Based on the degree of severity and the situation, the time period for therapies can be determined. There are various kinds of therapies such as:
– Interpersonal therapy – It is used to look at the role of the patient’s relationship with other people and how it affects him or her
– Cognitive behavioral therapy – It is used to see how patient’s behavior and thoughts provoke depression
– Problem –solving therapy – It focuses on a particular problem and tries to solve it
Apart from these three types of therapies, based on the circumstances family and couple therapy, psychodynamic, psychotherapy and supportive psychotherapy is also given as options.
• Exercise – Exercises often help in making one feel better. It helps in reducing anxiety and elevating the mood of a person. It helps to divert the mind from depressing thoughts. Physical activities four to six times a week for at least 30 minutes can help relax and improve social life, relationship and self-esteem
• Diet – Eat regularly. Even better would be to eat healthy food regularly. Adding Omega 3 supplements and olive oil in the diet helps as they have similar effects like anti-depressant
•Sleep – Not getting proper sleep will result in a depressing mood. Lack of proper sleep at night, tends to lead to fearful thoughts leading to anxiety. Therefore, by setting a bed time and making it a regular habit can help to reduce depression
• Medication – Usually, antidepressant medicines are used to treat moderate and severe forms of depression. Though medication cannot change circumstances, symptoms of depression like low mood, poor sleep, etc. can be eased with an antidepressant.