Depression

depression

Depression is used to describe various experiences, it is usually a state of low mood and avoidance of activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings and a sense of well-being.

People who are depressed may feel sad, anxious, hopeless, worried, helpless, worthless, irritable, or restless. They may lose interest in activities that previously found pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeat, have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions.

We all feel sad and moody from time to time. This is normal and may be a reaction to certain life events. This might include bereaving the death of a loved one, a symptom of some medical conditions, or even a side effect of some drugs or medical treatments. However, when some people experience these feelings intensely for a long period of time (weeks, months or years), it may be considered to be depression and help should be sought.

Being clinically diagnosed of depression means that a person has been experiencing an intense and long-lasting depressed mood, and that has had a severe negative impact on daily routines such as maintaining social relationships, or difficulty making simple decisions. It can have serious and detrimental effects on many aspects of a person’s life if left untreated.

Causes

The causes of depression are often not attributed to one factor solely but likely to be a combination of different related factors.

Life Events

Stressful life events or changes may act as a trigger for depression. While most people experience certain level of depressed mood following a stressful life event for a limited period of time, for some people such depressed mood may persist and lead to clinical depression. Life events that put a person at higher risk for depression include childbirth, menopause, financial difficulties, job problems, relationship troubles, separation, bereavement, loss of a loved one / family member / friend, marriage, natural disasters such as earthquakes, or catastrophic injury.

Drug and Alcohol Use

Drug and alcohol use is highly associated with depression, it can both lead to or result from depression. Also, many people with depression have drug and alcohol problems.

Personality

Some personality types are more predisposed to develop depression, such as people who experience high level of anxiety, have the tendency to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are sensitive to criticism, are self-critical and negative or being a perfectionist have a higher risk of developing depression.

Hereditary

Evidence suggests that some people are more likely to develop depression due to genetic predisposition. For example, having a family history of depression may indicate a higher risk in developing depression than those do not have such family history. However, it does not mean that a person will definitely have depression later in life because of his / her family history or any close relatives suffer from the illness, other life circumstances and personal factors play significant roles in predicating depression as well.

Symptoms

It is important to note that everyone may have probably experienced some of these symptoms from time to time following stressful life events or incidents, it does not necessarily mean that a person is depressed. Similarly, not everyone with depression experiences all of the symptoms.

Behaviour

  • loss of interest in pleasurable activities previously enjoyed
  • constant worrying and negative thinking
  • withdrawing from family and friends
  • increased use of alcohol
  • unable to concentrate

Feelings and emotion

  • irritability
  • agitation
  • hopelessness
  • guilt
  • disappointment
  • frustration
  • lacking in confidence
  • sadness

Negative Thinking

  • “Life is not worth living”
  • “I am a failure
  • “I am worthless”
  • “Nothing good ever happens to me”
  • suicidal thoughts

Physical changes

  • fatigue
  • changes in sleeping patterns (either sleeping too much or have trouble sleeping, e.g. insomnia)
  • headaches and muscle pain
  • loss or change of appetite
  • significant weight gain or loss