What is depression

In our glorious country, opening up about one’s own mental difficulties is something which is still considered taboo. A recent newspaper report puts the prevalence of depression at 36%. Suicide numbers are on the rise ! A number of international agencies rank depression among the top contributors to disability world wide ! But yet we sit here, not knowing what depression is.

I thought it was stress, so I tried to distract myself by focusing on work, and surrounding myself with people, which helped for a while. But the nagging feeling didn’t go away. My breath was shallow, I suffered from a lack of concentration and I broke down often.

Deepika Padukone.

Rekha is 32 years old, she has a successful career,  a lovable husband and two wonderful kids. She has a few helpful friends and a supportive family. She also got promoted at work 6 months ago. Yet for the past few months, she has been finding it a little difficult to fall asleep at night, she dreads daybreak and wished she could sleep for a bit more time. She fights through the tiredness as everything she once enjoyed seems grey and non-rewarding. She stopped following her favorite TV show and hasn’t been talking to her friends as much. She has been unable to focus on work and it takes her longer than usual to complete her tasks. The food she once loved seems drab and unappealing. There is no more color in festivals and functions, and smiling becomes an effort. She worried about the future and feels helpless as her life spirals down an eternal dark staircase.

Rekha’s husband has noticed this and is supportive as he can be, telling her that she needs to snap out of whatever that she is going through. Not that she wouldn’t want to snap out of it. People around her have been trying to cheer her up, suggesting everything that they feel would make her feel better! But no, the shadow of depression follows her around and makes her feel that her life is not worth living anymore.

What is depression ?

Depression is a disorder (no need to be offended, mental illnesses are like diabetes and hypertension, disorders with a biological basis that need treatment), characterized by a pervasive sad mood, a lack of interest in previously pleasurable activities and unexplained tiredness. It is often accompanied by sleep disturbances, low confidence levels, a decreased appetite and thoughts of self-harm.

Take a quick, free screening test for depression

What causes depression ?

Abnormalities in your brain !. Everything you do and everything you derive from how your brain interprets external stimuli. Believe it or not, what one may term psychological stress is understood by the brain only as electrical and chemical signals. A depressive disorder is caused by brain dysfunction, not some weakness in personality. Now this brain dysfunction may be triggered by hundreds of causes, ranging from a broken relationship to a brain stroke. There is a biological basis for every mental illness, including depression. There are at least 10 medical conditions including anaemia and hypothyroidism that can mimic depression.

How does being depressed feel ?

This is world health organization video on depression and is one of the most accurate interpretations of the symptoms of depression.

How is depression treated ?

Depression is complex and multifactorial, the 7 billion people on this planet will have their own unique ways of undergoing and dealing with depression.

A range of treatment options is available, ranging from behavioural activation, psychotherapy, medications and brain stimulation methods. Your doctor/therapist will be able to suggest treatment modalities most appropriate for your symptoms based on a thorough evaluation of your experience of depression, the factors leading up to it, your strengths, your weaknesses and the current severity of your symptoms.

I have been diagnosed with depression, now what ?

Try to understand the diagnosis, with the help of your doctor come up with a personal theory of causation. What triggered this, what could you have done to help yourself, why couldn’t you help yourself and what keeps this going? These questions aren’t meant to be self-critical, they are meant to be self-exploratory. Answer these questions with the help of your doctor or therapist. Follow the treatments that you have been prescribed. Antidepressants take a few weeks to begin working. Discuss any questions or unwanted effects of these meds with your doctor. Fix your diet, increase your physical activity, prioritize sleep, prioritize your well being and most importantly please be nice to yourself.

get well soon

Depression robs you of the belief that things will get better. That is a lie. You will beat this! Please reach out and take help.