Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, you may have depression. More than just sadness in response to life’s struggles and setbacks, depression changes how you think, feel, and function in daily activities.
While some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. Men in particular can feel angry and restless. No matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
Depression varies from person to person, but the following are some common signs and symptoms:
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness: Nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing I can do.
Loss of interest in daily activities: You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
Appetite or weight changes: Significant weight loss or weight gain above 5% of body weight in a month.
Sleep changes: Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping.
Anger or irritability: Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent.
Loss of energy: Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained.
Self-loathing: You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes and feel worthless.
Reckless behavior: You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
Concentration problems: Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
Unexplained aches and pains: An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain
DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE RISK
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. A depressed person will be tipping towards suicide if they are:
a. Talking about killing or harming one’s self
b. Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness
c. An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
d. Acting recklessly like over speeding through red lights
e. Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
f. Getting affairs in order
g. Saying things like “Everyone is better off without me”
h. sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy
According to WHO, close to 800 000 people die of suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people aged between fifteen to twenty nine years (15-29). Although there are known, effective treatments for mental disorders, between 76% and 85% of people in low and middle income countries receive no treatment for their disorder. Barriers to effective care include:
lack of resources
black of trained health-care providers
social stigma associated with mental disorders.
A World Health Assembly resolution passed in May 2013 called for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at the country level.
DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS DIFFER WITH GENDER & AGE
Depression in men: They do not acknowledge feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness but tend to complain about fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, and loss of interest in work and hobbies and exhibit anger, aggression, reckless behavior, and substance abuse.
Depression in women: Women are more likely to experience depression symptoms like pronounced feelings of guilt, excessive sleeping, overeating, and weight gain, impacted by hormonal factors during menstruation, pregnancy, menopause and after delivery
Depression in teens: Irritability, anger, and agitation are often the most noticeable symptoms as well as complain of physical pains.
Depression in older adults: They complain more about the physical rather than the emotional signs and symptoms of depression: fatigue, unexplained aches and pains, and memory issues.
TYPES OF DEPRESSION
Mild and moderate depression: It’s the most common type of depression. Its symptoms can interfere with your daily life, robbing you of joy and motivation.
Recurrent, mild depression: It’s a “low-grade” chronic depression. The symptoms are not very strong, but they last for long time.
Major depression: Is much less common than mild or moderate depression and is characterized by severe, relentless symptoms.
A typical depression: It’s a subtype of major depression with a specific symptom pattern but responds better to therapies and medications. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): It affects people in different seasons like winter or when people are required to stay indoors for long.
Bipolar disorder: Manic depression, involves serious shifts in moods, energy, thinking, and behavior. It is mostly misdiagnosed.
Loneliness and isolation: There’s a strong relationship between loneliness and depression.
Marital or relationship problems: Abusive relationships increase your risk for depression.
Recent stressful life experiences: Major life changes like bereavement, divorce, financial problems or job loss
Chronic illness or pain: Unmanaged pain or serious illness, such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
Family history of depression: It’s genetic susceptibility to depression.
Personality: Traits like worrying excessively, negative outlook on life, highly self-critical, or low self-esteem.
Early childhood trauma or abuse: Early life stresses such as childhood trauma, abuse and bullying
Alcohol or drug abuse: Many people use alcohol or drugs as for self-medicating their moods or cope with stress or difficult emotions.
COPING WITH DEPRESSION
Reach out to other people: Isolation fuels depression, so reach out to friends, church mates and loved ones.
Get moving: Do some outdoor activities like exercises or gardening.
Eat a mood boosting diet: Reduce intake of caffeine, alcohol; refined carbohydrates and increase intake of omega 3
Find ways to engage again with the world: Do house chores, your hobbies find ways to enjoy.