If you would have asked me how I was about a year ago I would have probably said “I’m fine” with a sheepish smile stuck on my face. But if you could see inside my head, you could have probably understood the intense struggle I was going through to form those two simple words. Yes, I myself was a victim of severe depression and I was too confused to admit it because of the only thought that talking about it probably meant I was trying to gain attention. People would brand me as ‘mental’ or ‘crazy’ and this stigma prevented me to even speak about it. Probably Linkin Park was the only band who possibly ever understood my condition. Numb. Deprived of feeling or responsiveness.
WHY DOES DEPRESSION HAPPEN?
You cannot ask why the depression. It is like the weather. Or an uncalled disease. It will raise up its ugly head whenever it wants to. And we, human beings, with the highest developed nervous system suddenly start feeling nothing. ‘Cause that is how simply complicated it is’.
The only thing about depression is that it doesn’t happen overnight. It builds up over days and suddenly one day one feels it too tough to even get out of bed. Waking up to the world is like waking up to a nightmare. And suddenly the bed feels more welcoming than even your mother’s arms.
Several factors contribute in making someone depressed. Those factors keep affecting the person so much until one day the lack of endorphines in his or her body takes a toll, they cannot connect to the world anymore.
The saddest part is that the number of people getting affected by this pessimistic melancholy is rising by the day. Along with it accompanies a similarly harmful disease called anxiety. Recent depression statistics are as follows:
- 300 million people around the world have depression, according to the World Health Organization.
- 16.2 million adults in the United States — equaling 6.7 percent of all adults in the country — have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.
- 10.3 million U.S. adults experienced an episode that resulted in severe impairment in the past year.
- Nearly 50 percent of all people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
- It’s estimated that 15 percent of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.
Often on the surface this seems like a disease which cannot be cured. But where there’s a will there’s always a way. Depression can also be cured if diagnosed at the right time and treated the right way.
EDUCATION ABOUT DEPRESSION:
It’s important to understand that depression is a physical illness, not a mental weakness, and that someone can’t just snap out of it and decide to feel better. Also know that you can’t fix the problem on your own. Depression requires treatment, often including medication to alter levels of brain chemicals and some form of therapy to help change negative thought patterns.
Although depression has some common characteristics, it does affect each person differently. Most people with depression experience an improvement in their symptoms with treatment. The primary medical options are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), antidepressant medication, and in some severe cases, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). Education and coping strategies are also important when learning to manage your depression.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an excellent treatment for depression, alone or in conjunction with medication. CBT involves learning:
- To control the negative thoughts that lead to loss of interest and feelings of worthlessness;
- to combat the emotions of sadness and hopelessness,
- Loss of energy, even when not physically active.
- to counteract the behaviours related to poor concentration and thoughts of death
Techniques for problem solving are also taught whether the problem is a consequence or cause of the depression. CBT is very effective and 80% of people with mild, moderate or severe depression improve.
CBT will often be recommended when:
- The depression is mild, moderate, or severe.
- The person has had a prior positive response to CBT.
- A competent, trained clinician who has expertise in CBT is available, or the person is prepared to use internet CBT.
- There is a medical contraindication to taking medications.
- The depressed person prefers CBT or iCBT.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
ECT is an effective form of treatment for depression, especially if:
- there are medical contraindications to medication.
- there is a need for a rapid improvement because of suicidal intent or refusal to eat
- the person has experienced treatment failure following CBT, several medications, or combined medication and CBT treatment trials
- the person has had a previous positive response to ECT
- somatic symptoms are prominent
- psychotic symptoms are present
- Set goals for daily activity. Plan full days of useful activity by making a list of the activities you are going to engage in at different times during the day. Try to stick to this plan as closely as possible.
- What activities do you enjoy? Try to increase the amount of time you spend on these enjoyable activities.
- Avoid comparing the way you are behaving or feeling now while you are depressed with the way you used to behave or feel before becoming depressed.
- Reward yourself for your efforts. Ask others around you to encourage and praise you for each small step you take. Recovering from depression is a bit like learning to walk again after breaking your leg.
- If a task seems too difficult, do not despair. Break the task down into even easier steps and start again more slowly.
- Get up at the same time every morning.
- Avoid sleeping during the day.
- Reduce tea and coffee intake if excessive (no more than two or three cups per day and none after about 4:00 p.m.).
- Do not lie awake for more than about thirty minutes — get up and find a relaxing activity.
- Try relaxation exercises.
Even after all of these measures, coping with depression poses like an obstacle which cannot be overcome. Patience and time helps a lot and motivation and encouragement from loved ones is sometimes the best medicine to cure this malady.