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Sadness, a feeling of emptiness, and not getting pleasure or satisfaction from everyday activities are familiar feelings to all of us. But if they persist and materially affect our lives, this could be a sign on the wall.

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It can affect adults, adolescents and children.

In this article, we will tell you what depression is and what causes this state of mind. We also describe the different types, their treatments and more.

What Is Depression?

Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It can be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person's day-to-day activities.

It is also quite common. It is estimated that 8,1 percent of Dutch adults aged 20 and older had depression at some point in their life.

People experience depression in different ways. It can disrupt your day-to-day work making you less productive. It can also affect relationships and some chronic health conditions.

Conditions that can be made worse by depression include:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • cardiovascular disease
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • obesity

It's important to realize that sometimes feeling is a normal part of life. Sad and disturbing events happen to everyone. But if you regularly feel down or hopeless, you may be suffering from depression.

Depression is considered a serious medical condition that can worsen without proper treatment. Those seeking treatment often see an improvement in symptoms within a few weeks.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression can be more than a constant state of sadness or an "empty" feeling.

Severe depression can have a variety of symptoms. Some affect your mood and others affect your body. The symptoms can also persist and come and go.

The symptoms of depression can be experienced differently in men, women and children.

Men can experience symptoms related to their:

  • mood, such as anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiety, and restlessness
  • emotional well-being, such as feeling empty, sad, hopeless ...
  • behavior, such as loss of interest, no longer finding pleasure in favorite activities, feeling tired easily, thoughts of suicide, excessive drinking, use of drugs, engaging in risky activities
  • sexual interest, such as decreased sexual desire, lack of sexual performance
  • cognitive abilities, such as inability to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses during conversations
  • sleep patterns, such as insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, not sleeping through the night
  • physical well-being, such as fatigue, pain, headaches, digestive problems

Women may experience symptoms related to their:

  • mood, such as irritability
  • emotional well-being, such as feeling sad or empty, feeling anxious or hopeless
  • behavior, such as loss of interest in activities, withdrawal from social contacts, suicidal thoughts
  • cognitive skills, such as slower thinking or talking
  • sleep patterns, such as difficulty sleeping through the night, waking up early, sleeping too much
  • physical well-being, such as decreased energy, increased fatigue, changes in appetite, weight changes, pain, headache, increased cramps

Children may experience symptoms related to their:

  • mood, such as irritability, anger, mood swings, crying
  • emotional well-being, such as feelings of inadequacy (eg “I can't do anything right”) or despair, crying, intense sadness
  • behavior, such as getting in trouble at school or refusing to go to school, avoiding friends or siblings, thoughts of death or suicide
  • cognitive skills, such as difficulty concentrating, decline in school performance
  • sleep patterns, such as trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • physical well-being, such as loss of energy, digestive problems, changes in appetite, weight loss or gain

What are the causes of depression?

The medical community does not fully understand the causes of depression. There are many possible causes, and sometimes there are several factors that cause the symptoms.

Factors likely to play a role include:

  • genetic features
  • changes in the brain's neurotransmitter
  • environmental factors
  • psychological and social factors
  • additional conditions such as bipolar disorder

What types of depression are there?

There are different forms of depression. Some of the most common forms are listed below.

Severe depression

A person with severe depression experiences a constant state of sadness. They may lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.

Treatment usually consists of medication and psychotherapy.

Persistent depressive disorder

Also known as dysthymia, it causes persistent depressive disorder with symptoms lasting at least 2 years.

Someone with this disorder may have episodes of major depression as well as milder symptoms.

Bipolar disorder

Depression is a common symptom of bipolar disorder, and research shows that people with this disorder can have symptoms about half the time. This can make bipolar disorder difficult to distinguish from depression.

Psychotic Depression

Some people experience psychosis in combination with depression.

Psychosis can be accompanied by delusions, such as false beliefs and a detachment from reality. It can also be hallucinations - feeling things that are not there.

Postnatal depression

After giving birth, many women experience what some people call the “baby blues”. If hormone levels adjust after delivery, it can lead to mood swings.

There is no single cause for this type of depression, and it can take months or years. Anyone who continues to experience depression after delivery should seek medical attention.

Major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern

Previously mentioned seasonal affective disorder is the type of depression related to the reduction in daylight during the fall and winter.

Symptoms may diminish as the year goes smoothly or in response to light therapy.

People living in countries with long or harsh winters seem to be more affected by this condition.

Diagnosis

If someone suspects that they have symptoms of depression, they should seek professional help from a doctor or a mental health specialist.

A qualified health professional can rule out various causes, make an accurate diagnosis, and initiate safe and effective treatment.

He'll ask about the symptoms, such as how long they've been around. A doctor may also conduct an exam to check for physical causes and have a blood test to rule out other health problems.

What is the treatment for depression?

Living with depression can be difficult, but treatment can help improve the quality of your life. Talk to your healthcare provider about the possible options.

You may be able to treat symptoms successfully with one form of treatment, or a combination of treatments may work best.

It is common to combine medical treatments and lifestyle therapies, including the following:

Medication

Your healthcare provider may prescribe the following:

  • antidepressants
  • antipsychotic drugs
  • benzodiazepines

Any type of medication used to treat depression has benefits and potential risks.

Psychotherapy

Speaking to a therapist can help you learn skills for dealing with negative feelings. You may also benefit from family or group therapy sessions.

Light therapy

Exposure to doses of white light can help regulate your mood and improve the symptoms of depression. Light therapy is often used for seasonal affective disorder, now called major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern.

Alternative therapies

Ask your healthcare provider about acupuncture or meditation. Some herbal supplements are also used to treat depression, such as St. John's wort and fish oil.

Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplement or combining a supplement with prescription medications, as some supplements can interact with certain medications. Some supplements can also make depression worse or decrease the effectiveness of the medication.

Physical activity

Aim for 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 days a week. Exercise can increase the body's production of endorphins. These are hormones that improve your mood.

Avoid alcohol and drugs

Drinking or abusing drugs may make you feel a little better. But in the long run, these drugs can worsen depression and anxiety symptoms.

Learn to say no

Feeling overwhelmed can make anxiety and depression symptoms worse. Setting boundaries in your professional and personal life can help you feel better.

Take care of yourself

You can also improve the symptoms of depression by taking care of yourself. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, avoiding negative people, and participating in fun activities.

Sometimes depression does not respond to medication. Your health care provider may recommend other treatment options if your symptoms do not improve.

Is Depression Genetic?

Someone with a parent or sibling who has depression is two to three times more likely to develop the condition.

However, many people with depression do not have a family history.

A recent study suggests that susceptibility to depression may not be the result of genetic variation. Researchers recognize that while depression could be inherited, many other issues also affect its development.

Is it a disability?

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world, according to WHO.

In the United States, depressive, bipolar and related conditions are considered a disability. If a person is unable to work because of their depression, he or she may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

The person must have worked long enough and recently enough to be eligible for disability benefits. For more information, please visit the website of your health insurer.

Can depression be cured?

While there is no cure for depression, there are effective treatments to aid recovery. The sooner the treatment starts, the more successful it can be.

Many people with depression recover after following a treatment plan. However, relapse can occur even with effective treatment.

To prevent a relapse, people taking medications for depression should continue treatment - even after symptoms have improved or disappeared - for as long as their doctor advises.

Find some tips to help keep depression from returning.

Triggers

Triggers are emotional, psychological, or physical events or conditions that can lead to the appearance or recurrence of depressive symptoms.

These are some of the most common triggers:

  • Stressful life events, such as loss, family conflict, and changes in relationships
  • Incomplete recovery after stopping treatment prematurely
  • Medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Risk factors

Some people have a higher risk of depression than others.

Risk factors include:

  • experiencing certain life events, such as death, working conditions, changes in relationships, financial problems and medical problems.
  • acute stress
  • having a lack of successful coping strategies
  • having a close relationship with depression
  • the use of some prescription drugs, such as corticosteroids, some beta blockers and interferon
  • the use of recreational drugs, such as alcohol or amphetamines
  • after a previous episode of major depression
  • living with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or cardiovascular disease
  • live with persistent pain

Outlook for people with depression

Depression can be temporary, but it can also last for a long time. Treatment does not always make your depression go away completely.

Still, treatment often makes symptoms more manageable. To manage the symptoms of depression, you need to find the right combination of medications and therapies.

If one treatment doesn't work, talk to your healthcare provider. This one can help you create a different treatment plan that may work better in managing your condition.