Is Depression a Modern Life Disease?
Ask yourself what causes you stress easily. It could be a work deadline, a heated argument, partner troubles, the list is endless. Though these may look like simple daily worries, experts suggest that it is these daily life events that trigger flight or fight reactions in the body, which in turn lead to debilitating mental conditions such as depression. A depressed person feels like a failure and sees little hope for an improved state of affairs. Symptoms of depression can vary from one individual to another in intensity and frequency. An episode of depression can be categorised as mild, moderate or severe depending upon the intensity of symptoms. Today, Dr. Pulkit Sharma, Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalytical Therapist at VIMHANS, New Delhi will take us through the what, why and how of depression - a deadly modern life disease.
Symptoms of Depression: Depression is a common psychological condition characterised by: Feelings of unhappiness most of the time, increased fatigue and reduced energy, loss of interest in all activities including favourite pastimes, decreased interest in sex, poor attention and concentration, reduced food intake, disturbed sleep, poor work or study performance, preference for being alone, wish to commit suicide, low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness.
Causes of Depression: There are many factors that may predispose a person towards depression:
• A fragile self: Individuals prone to depression do not have a strong self and adverse life experiences such as failure in work or relationships shatter their self-esteem and induce depression.
• Suppressed anger: Depressed persons feel let down by important others in their life and this makes them enraged. However, they feel uncomfortable in expressing their anger and rage out of fear of hurting the person or spoiling the little hope that is left. Often, these people turn the rage at their own selves which leads to self-hatred and depression.
• Negative thinking patterns: Depressed people think negatively about themselves ("I’m useless"), the surrounding world ('no one cares for me") and the future ("life is no good because these things will never change"). A depressed person tends to focus exclusively on negative experiences and totally ignores the positive ones. This excessive focus on the negative leads to hopelessness.
• Medical causes: At times, depression is secondary to an ongoing medical illness. Abnormalities in monoamine neurotransmitter system especially serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine seem to contribute to depression.
Ways to prevent depression: The key to prevent depression is to develop a realistic, intrinsic and strong sense of personal worth. If you feel valued and adequate within yourself as a person you would have a robust self to fight adverse experiences. Developing one close relationship where you can share everything and feel understood and loved for who you are adds to psychological strength. Interpreting failure experiences in a more rational manner (‘I failed in my exam’ rather than saying ‘I’m a failure’) and reminding yourself of your positive attributes can go a long way. However, if despite this you continue to feel depressed do not shy away from consulting a psychologist.
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