Contrary to popular belief, depression does not necessarily stem from a weakness in ones personality or from ones poor ability to cope with the stressors of life. Depression like every other mental illness stems from interactions between biological, psychological and social factors.
Rekha is 32 years old, she has a succesful 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 to festivals and functions, and smiling becomes an effort. She worries about the future and feels helpless as her life spirals down a eternal dark staircase.
Symptoms of depression include persistent low mood, easy fatiguability and a lack of interest in things that were previously pleasurable. "Ravi for example, stopped playing his guitar when he was depressed." Physical symptoms such as changes in sleep patterns, changes in appetite and weight and decreased interest in sex may also occur. Further a loss of self confidence, undue feelings of guilt, emotional lability and thoughts about self harm are also common.
The safest thing to do, if one is experiencing such symtoms is to seek professional help.
The prefrontal cortex of the brain holds and processes information in regard to ones personality, memory, decision making, motivation and complex cognitive tasks. These processes are encoded in the form of synapses or interneuronal connections. The neurons communicate via electrochemical processes called neurotransmission.
Current knowledge implicates a deficiency in serotonin ( a neurotransmitter) and or an abnormal number of serotonin receptors in the synapses in causing depression.
Most anti depressants increase serotonin concentrations so as to improve mood and cognition.
A number of metabolic and endocrine problems may mimic depression and should be ruled out, before a diagnosis is made.
Psychiatrists can treat mild to moderate depression with psychotherapy alone. Exercise has been proven to be effective in boosting serotonin levels and lifting low mood.
Psychiatry is a medical speciality, like surgery, general medicine and paediatrics. It involves the study, diagnosis and management of mental illnesses and distressing conditons, pertaining to both the mind and body. Misconceptions about psychiatric illness and treatment have some how prevented help seeking behaviour in those who need it the most. This Wall has to go, wherin visiting a psychiatrist should no longer be taboo, and people should be able to openly and freely discuss mental health issues. More here.
Dr Vikas Prabhav is a psychiatrist in anna nagar, chennai. He runs The Vivid Mind mental wellness clinic in Anna Nagar. We aim at providing holistic, multimodal care for those suffering from mental illnesses and adjustment issues. We offer effective management strategies for depression, anxiety, unexplained physical symptoms, addictions, child/adolescent problems and other behavioural issues.The information provided in this website does not substitute for a medical consult.