Depression is a prevalent mood disorder among human beings that can turn out to be deadly. The illness can also be referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder. Depression is usually characterized by loss of interest, a constant feeling of sadness and a persistent low mood. The illness is mental, and it causes serious symptoms that may affect how the victim thinks, feels, or how they handle their day to day activities including eating, working, and sleeping. Depression is a serious issue since it affects innumerable individuals across the globe. The World Health Organization considers depression as the leading cause of disabilities and the world’s most common illness ("Depression", 2017). According to the organization’s estimation, depression affects over 350 million individuals worldwide. The CDC indicates that in any two-week period, 7.6% of persons over 12 years of age suffer from depression ("FastStats", 2017).
Depressed persons do not experience all the symptoms related to the illness. Some may experience many symptoms while others may experience just a few. Those with severe symptoms can be diagnosed with major depression whereas those with few but acute may receive treatment for “subsyndromal” depression. Symptoms may vary depending on an individual’s stage of illness. One has to experience the following symptoms for around two weeks before they’re diagnosed with depression ("What Is Depression?", 2017);
• Loss of weight and appetite
• Feeling worthless and guilty
• Memory loss and difficulty concentrating
• Depressed mood or persistent sadness
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Restlessness and anxiety
• Extreme pessimism and hopelessness/helplessness
• Insomnia or trouble sleeping
• Persistent digestive problems, pains, headaches, and cramps without clear cause
• Reduced interest in activities or hobbies
• Suicidal feelings
There are different forms of depression, all of which develop under unique circumstances. These forms of depression include the following;
Psychotic depression - Refers to a severe depression accompanied by a form of psychosis such as having hallucinations or delusions (fixed beliefs) of illness or guilt.
Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) - Characterized by a depressed mood that usually persists for around two years. Dysthymia includes both episodes of less severe symptoms as well as major depression.
Seasonal effective disorder – Prevalent during seasons where there’s less natural sunlight like winter months. The depression is usually accompanied by weight gain, social withdrawal, and too much sleep. The pattern is predictable annually during the winter season.
Perinatal depression – This is a severe major depression that mainly affects women when they’re pregnant or after they deliver (postpartum depression). It’s usually characterized by feelings of exhaustion, anxiety and extreme sadness that make it hard for new mothers to take care of themselves or the newborn babies ("NIMH » Depression", 2017).
Depression is likely to affect other issues. For instance, clinical depression is closely associated with other mental illnesses affecting millions of Americans. These include social phobia, panic disorders, and generalized anxiety disorder. However, all these disorders can be treated. Depression can also adversely affect an individual’s work, productivity, or relationship. A previous national survey indicates that around 6 percent of workers encounter symptoms of depression annually. This leads to poor motivation and even absenteeism at the workplace ("Mental health problems in the workplace - Harvard Health", 2010).
Several psychological theories relate to the issue of depression. First, we’ll look at the Beck’s theory (1967). The theory was suggested by Aaron Beck, a cognitive theorist who studied individuals with depression and discovered that they analyzed events in a negative way, be it about themselves, the world or the future (McLeod, 2014). He pointed out that three main factors led to depression namely;
• Negative self-schemas
• The cognitive/negative triad and
• Errors in Logic
The cognitive triad is a pessimistic and irrational view whereby individuals are ruled by automatic negative thinking whereas errors in logic involved individuals processing information wrongly. Beck discusses that the negative self-schemas are normally acquired in the early stages of life when traumatic events happen such as exclusion from a peer group, rejection from parents or abuse ("Overview of Beck's Cognitive Theory of Depression", 2003).
Another one of these theories is the psychoanalytic theory by Sigmund Freud (1917) in which he suggested that most cases of depression were as a result of biological factors (Psychoanalytic Theory, 2017). Fred also indicated that some cases of depression could have resulted from rejection or loss of a parent. He proposed that depression can be compared to grief such that it often erupts from a broken or lost relationship (McLeod, 2014).
According to my personal experience, I would say that most instances of depression arise from psychological and psychosocial issues. I’ve witnessed most people in the society languish into depression because of life events including; acute stress, work issues, divorce, financial problems, grief, medical concerns, and poor relationships with family and friends. I also noticed that people with a childhood or previous life trauma, weak coping strategies, and poor attitude or personality are more susceptible to depression than their counterparts ("Depression | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness", 2017). Experts indicate that other risk factors include;
• Prescription drugs – such as interferon, corticosteroids, beta-blockers among others.
• Genetics – The risk increases if one has a first-degree relative suffering from depression
• Previous head injuries
• Past cases of a major depression
• Abuse of recreational drugs including amphetamines and alcohol among other drugs related to depression
• Chronic conditions such as diabetes among others
Depression is not a simple issue and should be taken seriously. It’s crucial for individuals to understand that depression is an illness that is easily treatable. Other than drug treatment using antidepressants, other possible ways to manage depression include psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy) and support through educating family members, counseling, and discussing other practical solutions ("Depression | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness", 2017). Moreover, people should learn to adopt a positive attitude in life to avoid being depressed.
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