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Depression

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad, but these feelings usually pass within a couple of days. When a person has depression, it interferes with his or her daily life and routine, such as going to work or school, taking care of children, and relationships with family and friends. Depression causes pain for the person who has it and for those who care about him or her. Depression can be very different in different people or in the same person over time. It is a common but serious illness. Treatment can help those with even the most severe depression get better.

Causes

  • Depression can be inherited, i.e. the chance of a person having the condition increases considerably if one or more family members have it.
  • Environmental factors like the death of a parent can cause a depressive episode.
  • Physical illnesses like cancer and heart disease may be followed by depression. There may also be conditions like Parkinson’s disease, whose symptoms include depression.
  • Depression can also be a side effect of certain drugs used to treat hypertension.
  • Some people have personality traits that make them more susceptible to depression. These people view themselves as losers and have a negative attitude towards them.

Signs & symptoms

  • Ongoing sad, anxious or empty feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that was once enjoyable, including sex
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or difficulty making decisions
  • Not able to go to sleep or stay asleep (insomnia); may wake in the middle of the night, or sleep all the time
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Thoughts of suicide or making suicide attempts
  • Ongoing aches and pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not go away.

Diagnosis

The first thing is to take a detailed and thorough history and rule out the possibility of a physical illness. This may include blood tests to detect anaemia or thyroid problems.

Treatment

  • Drug treatment is the most common method of treatment.
  • Antidepressants like Tricyclic antidepressants are helpful in reducing the symptoms.
  • Psychotherapy and counselling are useful in reducing the further attacks.

Getting through depression

  • Pace yourself. Don’t expect to do everything you normally can. Set a realistic schedule.
  • Don’t believe all of your negative thinking, such as blaming yourself or expecting to fail. This thinking is part of depression. These thoughts will go away as your depression lifts.
  • Get involved in activities that make you feel good or feel like you’ve achieved something.
  • Avoid making big life decisions when you’re depressed. If you must make a big decision, ask someone you trust to help you.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Both make depression worse. Both can cause dangerous side effects with your antidepressants.
  • Physical activity seems to cause a chemical reaction in the body that may improve your mood. Exercising 4 to 6 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time is a good goal. But even less activity can be helpful.
  • Try not to get discouraged. It will take time for your depression to lift fully.
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