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  • Writer's pictureDevavrat Harshe

Depression: What are signs of depression & common types of depression?

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Depression affects nearly 1 of every 4 women and 1 of every 8 men in their lifetime. Yet, significant myths about depression are widely prevalent even in urban locales such as Kolhapur. This informative blog talks about common signs of depression. It also informs readers about various depression treatments available in Kolhapur.

"Doctor, this is not the first time I am feeling lost. I have had losses before. Why do I need treatment this time?" This is a question commonly asked by patients after being diagnosed with depression. Surprisingly, the question is shared by people from all social, eduational and economic backgrounds. A simplistic answer like "Emotional responses dont need treatments. Depression is a mood disorder, therefore it needs to be treated" are simply not going to help.

As humans evolved, our brains got more and more sophisticated. Which is why, we can enjoy the basic universal emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, fear and disgust, but we also developed some specialised social emotions like shame, guilt. We can enjoy music, humor and art, and delve into religion, spirituality, logic, philosophy and science. With all these features, we got something called "mood".

Mood is the state in which your mind works. Unlike emotions, moods are not temporary. They remain persistent for prolonged durations of time. So, if your mood is normal or "euthymic", you may still feel bad, angry or disappointed as it happens commonly everyday, but you will always bounce back. Mood acts as a cushion for rapidly changing emotional responses we encounter day in and day out.

Depression is a mood disorder. Your brain simply is not able to maintain your "euthymia" anymore. It develops low or sad mood "dysphoria". This now changes gears for the mind. It is just like a car whose gears have been shifted down from 4th or 5th to 1st. Because of the dysphoric state, the cushion for your emotional responses and roller coasters is no more fully effective. Mood also affects the way you think. Sad mood often leads to overgeneralisation, illogical and negative thoughts and often, feelings of loss and hopelessness.

This feeling can be compared to someone wearing tinted yellow glasses. Despite having a normal vision, his yellow glasses would make him see everything around him in different shades of yellow. Similarly, anything seen with a depressed state of mind, will either be perceived with negative thoughts, generalised attributes and often, extremely negative thoughts including avoidance.

Depression also starts interfering in normal biological functions. It affects sleep, apetite, and often menstrual cycles. It starts to show effects on thoughts, emotions, memory and chain of logical thinking. People with depression in extreme and severe cases experience suicidal thoughts and ideations.

What should you do if you suspect someone to be depressed?

This is where the fundamental mistake is committed by people who are near and dear to the person suffering. As soon as they realize something is wrong with their loved one, they start offering advise, comments, opinions, critique and often judgement. This completely alienates the person suffering. They feel a sense of detachment even from their loved ones, and, it adds to the distorted thinking they are experiencing due to depression.

So if you suspect someone close to you being depressed, try following steps:

  1. Be supportive. Show that you understand their pain and suffering.

  2. Listen: Depression is often misunderstood by many. So after you show your concern and care, just listen with an open ear to what the other person is saying.

  3. Be non-judgemental: Please avoid making judgemental comments, remarks or jokes. Remember, depression is not a phase, or tantrum.

  4. Show you care: Let your body language, responses, gestures and tone of language show that you care about that person, their health, their well-being and their growth.

  5. Take action: Once you feel that you have supported the person and understood their problem, ONLY THEN try thinking about any solutions. If you feel you are not the right person, seek professional help.

When should you seek professional help?

Mild to subclinical depressive episodes can subside on their own. Professional help should immediately be sought if,

  1. Biological functions like sleep, apetite are affected.

  2. The person is surrounded by multiple challenges and stressful situations, solving all of them at the time is simply not possible.

  3. There is no primary support structure available (like friends, family etc.)

  4. Suicidal ideations and thoughts are present.

With modern medicine, depression is treatable. Psychotherapy like cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), medications are scientifically proven and very safe as well as effective. For extreme and resistant symptoms, sometimes, brain stimulation methods like modified electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be required. All these treatments when offered by trained and experienced professionals are very effective and safe.

To summarise, suspecting and recognizing depression is vital in its early treatment. When needed take professional help as early as possible. Journey to recovery begins with the first step, which is talking about depression. So, are you ready to take that step? Start talking about mental health. Start talking about depression.

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