What Is Depression?
What is depression? Is depression simply a feeling of restlessness or sadness? Or take in consideration the following case: "I am really feeling horrible," said a distraught looking girl in her twenties as soon as she entered Dr Kersi Chavda’s clinic at P. D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mumbai . "I have no desire to do anything!! I would love to sleep through the day. Walking to the toilet is difficult. I feel dead inside...absolutely no feeling at all. The accidental deaths of my two friends a week ago left me unaltered! I felt nothing. It is difficult to eat or brush my teeth....I sometimes think that I need to cut myself in order to at least feel something. This depression is killing me.”
“She told me that she has been like this for 20 days and the feeling got worse when her close ones tried to calm her down with ‘its-Ok’ talks,” says Dr Kersi.
According to Psychiatrist, Dr Kersi Chavda these are classic signs and symptoms of clinical depression, the commonest psychological disorder. “Affecting more females than males, depression is being diagnosed in younger and younger age groups, even though it usually starts around age 18.”
Here Dr Kersi also points out that not all sadness is related to depression, “Often one hears people blithely state that they are depressed. This is usually in relation to some problem they have experienced in their lives which makes them feel upset. This may not compulsorily be depression.”
For depression to be diagnosed, and to start the first line of treatment, the following criteria are usually considered
- “Signs have to be present for most of the day for a period of at least two weeks.
- There has to be a feeling of despair, enough to be an impediment to the person’s normal social, psychological, physical and occupational life
- There is often a feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness and guilt
- Suicidal thought, ideation and action may occur; this is the most frightening aspect!
- Often there is a feeling of ‘anhedonia’-a kind of pervasive numbness or inability to feel or desire anything
- Your biological functions like eating; excretion, sleeping, and sexuality are affected.
- There may be a generalized sadness, crying episodes, and an extreme sensitivity to what is being said, sometimes suspiciousness sets in too
- A person finds it difficult to concentrate, and often finds it impossible to work.
- In the younger patients, often the only symptoms are aches and pains that cannot be explained on a physical basis.”
Depression treatment is related to a combination of therapy/counseling and medication. The myths associated with medication are often responsible for inadequate treatment and relapses occurring. Hence it is necessary to be aware of the fact that this is a disorder just like any other, which needs appropriate treatment.
“Considering that at least one in four persons are going to suffer from depression at some times in their lives, and a greater incidence is found in ladies, with consequent effects on children and family, it is essential that this diagnosis not be missed, and that treatment be initiated as early as possible”, concludes Dr Kersi.
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images