Everyone experiences a variety of moods and emotions that can either be due to internal or external factors. The ups and downs are a part of life. When we talk about sadness or low mood, it is also a state that everyone experiences from time to time. The serious concern arises when that state of sadness or emptiness stays with us, takes a significant hold of our life and does not decrease in intensity. This can indicate the presence of a serious state called depression. The word depression is commonly used by many people to express their emotional state in which they feel down or low in spirits, but if we look deeper into it, it depicts a range of symptoms which can be harmful for an individual. It is much more than just being sad or down. It is actually quite different from normal sadness due to some environmental factors. Clinical depression is a mental illness. It leaves its impact on all areas of our life; it can overwhelm the day-to-day life of an individual by disturbing his personal, occupational, recreational, and relational functioning. The person in depression depicts a classic picture of intense hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness.
The common signs and symptoms of clinical depression include a variety of emotional, psychological, behavioral, physiological and cognitive manifestations. The person loses all his interest in his daily activities; he cannot even find pleasure in the things that he found pleasurable previously. and usually quits his routine tasks as a result such as taking bath, changing clothes, taking care of personal hygiene, procrastinating in initiating or completing routine work etc. He starts liking to live in isolation and does not feel like engaging in social activities or meeting people. His sleep also gets disturbed, he either starts sleeping too much or too little, he may find difficulty in initiating sleep or maintaining a sound sleep. Significant changes in his appetite also occur; he may start overeating or lose all his appetite which can further lead to significant weight gain or weight loss. The person feels fatigued, exhausted, physically drained, lethargic and low in energies all the time. He cannot perform even small day-to-day tasks. A sense of irritability, agitation, restlessness and poor stress or frustration tolerance is experienced by an individual in a depressed state. Attention or concentration difficulties are also experienced. Depression is also considered as a major risk factor for suicide. Suicidal tendencies including suicidal ideation or suicide attempts also increase in intensity during depression. The person feels worthless and undermines all his achievements in life. He may report unexplained pains in different parts of the body such as headache, muscle pain, back pain etc. Despite of all these symptoms, a person feels helpless to improve his state. There is a greater risk during this state that a person may get involved in reckless behaviors like drug abuse to find a temporary relief from this state which can further play havoc in his life and creates double jeopardy for him.
There are several causes of depression including family history of depression, alcohol or drug abuse, chronic pain or health problems, loneliness, lack of significant social support, early childhood trauma or abuse, or recent stressful life experiences such as loss of a loved one, unemployment, marital or relationship problems, financial strain etc
Understanding the signs, symptoms, causes, and treatment of depression is the first step to overcoming the problem of depression. The management of depression includes a variety of treatment options. It is all about bringing change in person’s thoughts and behaviors. This task can be achieved through adequate medication, professional counseling, and social support. Through learning effective stress management skills, relaxation exercises, and negative thought challenging and replacement exercises, a person can combat his depression. Moreover, he needs to make some lifestyle changes as well such as maintaining a daily activity schedule including exercise, healthy diet, and appropriate amount of sleep.