Depression is a mental disorder that requires specialist treatment. It is characterized by the presence of symptoms and their persistence over a long period of time. The cause for concern is not so much depression as its effect on daily life, which suddenly becomes disrupted.
People with depression all the time feel sad, which is starting to change them more and more day by day. This despondency often has no specific cause. Just like that, our life starts to turn gray, we are deprived of vital energy, we have problems with the simplest activities, thinking, and emotions.
Also, the so-far important ambitions and professional / life successes cease to have any meaning. People with depression fall asleep quickly, but wake up very early in the morning.
What is depression? What are the symptoms of the disease? What to look for? What to do to react as early as possible? Do drugs or psychotherapy help more? All these questions are answered by psychologist Aleksandra Andruszczak-Zin, coordinator of the psychological team, deputy director of the search and identification team at the ITAKA Center for Missing People.
Depression: Help Usually Arrives Late
The main responsibility is the lack of knowledge of what depression is and that the disease will not pass itself and must be treated. People think depression has some spectacular symptoms; they do not know that it can smolder slowly, develop for years.
People from big cities are in a better situation here: not only is it easier to find out about this disease and find help but also not to be labeled as “mentally ill”.
Depression in Small Communities
After all, depression is an affective disease, and it is also treated by a psychiatrist. Therefore, where everyone knows each other, people are afraid that such information about them will leak between friends and rumors will start. People are afraid of patches.
For some, it is an insurmountable barrier. We should also remember that it is difficult for a depressed patient to mobilize himself and seek help. That is why the family should join in the search.
Depression or Severe Bout of Blues?
The first symptom “from the body” may be sleep disturbances. We do not yet let ourselves know that something is happening to us, but at 4 am we wake up and we cannot go back to sleep. Or we cannot fall asleep in the evening even though we feel very, very tired. Or we sleep for half a day – that is, we sleep through problems, a kind of escape to sleep.
Physical fatigue may also appear: we are constantly tired, very tired – although it has nothing to do with physical activity. For a depressed person, the mornings are the worst: he wakes up and finds the weight of the coming day overwhelming. Usually, in the evening you feel better.
Depression: A Simple Test to Find Out
Gradually, Anhedonia appears, which is a complete lack of joy in anything. Something that made us happy not so long ago does not please us anymore.
People suffering from depression complain that their body is empty, suspended in a vacuum. They feel as if they are watching their life in a movie. Their sex lives are changing: their needs in this regard are disappearing.
They do not want to get close to other people in any way. Their activity in every area of life decreases – they are no longer interested in what happens to their children, husband, wife, parents, and friends. Even her own body is no longer interested: a woman does not mind that she does not have makeup, men neglect hygiene … A depressed person often does not even want to take a shower.
What About Professional Life?
Here, the activity drops at the latest, because we are still subjected to a lot of pressure from family, friends and the environment to keep a job and earn money for ourselves. At the very thought of what could happen if there was no work, we still have a residual motivation to get up in the morning and go to work – although sometimes it seems like an overwhelming task.
But do we go to bed right after we come back from work?
Preferably. We turn to the wall, we don’t speak to anyone. Sometimes we don’t even want to eat dinner or change into pajamas …
Okay, But it Can Still be a Heavy Chandra
She could, but there are a few things that differ from depression. One of them is anxiety. In depression, irrational fear appears, it is felt by as many as three-fourths of patients. We don’t know what we’re afraid of, but fear is still with us, nibbling at us deep down.
Sometimes it is stronger, sometimes it is weaker, but it is still there – we wake up with it and fall asleep, although sometimes it attacks us paroxysously or is associated with various intrusive thoughts or phobias.
And the second thing is time: let’s talk about depression when the lack of joy, sleep problems, fatigue, lack of interest in oneself, and the environment lasts longer than six weeks. This is a signal to seek help: a general practitioner, psychiatrist, or psychologist.
Meanwhile, we hear from the family “get a grip”.
The family often says “do not whine, get a grip” – and the sick person waits until he has the strength to pull himself together – because he cannot yet. He is waiting for it to pass by itself and the mood to improve even more.
But it won’t wait?
He won’t wait. It will not pass by itself.
Can Your Relatives See Something?
Often yes. they begin to notice that there is something cutting with a family member like this. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like having sex, she can’t do it at work, withdraws from family life – and sometimes she bluntly says that she has suicidal thoughts and it is time for a serious conversation and seeking help.
Meanwhile, the relatives of the sick person ignore the matter or it fills them with such horror that they pretend that everything is fine. It is a pity because just talking and calling a spade a spade is very relieving.
The Work Environment Reacts Slower
Here we fall apart more slowly, so our condition is less visible. But here too, we cannot focus and we work worse, and colleagues may start asking what is going on. What holds us in addition is the fact that one of our defense mechanisms is to pretend even to ourselves that it’s not bad, because we don’t want to think that we are weak and need help.
We associate depression with failure, failure in life. We do not know that it is a matter of disturbing biochemistry in the brain – it can happen to a healthy, happy, and coping person, and the factor that often triggers the disease is prolonged stress, which disrupts the hormonal balance.
And Modern life is Very Stressful
We live under enormous pressure to prove ourselves, to be the best, to cope. There are more and more life roles in which we have to cope. Both ourselves and our environment require more and more of us. There are more problems and more crises.
Nobody teaches us that they need to be developmentally approached, so if we fail, our self-esteem drops quickly. And even when we feel that we are starting to stumble over our own legs and we are unable to cope, we say “I feel bad, but I have so many responsibilities, I have to fulfill them. I can’t say that I can’t make it and go on leave for two months to take care of myself. ”
Does it Hunt One Gender More?
There is a heavy distinction between exogenous and endogenous depression. Exogenous depression results from external factors, i.e. inability to adapt to a new situation, e.g. sudden dismissal from work and fruitless search for a new one, is more typical for men.
Endogenous results from internal factors, such as disturbances in the biochemistry of the brain, which are responsible for our well-being – this type of disease more often affects women.
Especially during menopause: This is when your hormone balance changes (similar to postpartum depression). The body is undergoing a revolution, and at the moment of such a “hormonal breakthrough,” it is easier to get problems with the mood.
But in menopause, the cause of depression can also be a life balance sheet “I’ve lived so many years and I have so little achievements. My body is getting old, I am ugly, my husband has gone to a younger one. ” And time
Manopause, A Serious Trigger
Not necessarily. According to statistics, the greatest number of women aged 35-45, which is definitely younger, suffer from depression. Fortunately, women get help faster because they look for it, want to find out what’s wrong with them, and are not ashamed to go to a psychiatrist.
Unlike men …
… who ignore the symptoms of depression and defend themselves against professional help. That’s probably why there are more suicides among them.
And the sun? Apparently, it improves your mood? Does it also work for a depressed person?
The sun is a powerful ally in the fight against disease because it affects the level of melatonin in the body, and thus regulates the biological clock and affects activity. Unfortunately, we have very little of it … Activity is very important, it oxygenates the whole body, including the brain.
Psychiatrists recommend physical activity…. And also that passion is important in life. If we have something that gives us wings, seems important, and makes us want to fight for it or get involved, the risk of depression decreases.
Medication is Not the Usual Answer
Not always, sometimes a few psychotherapy sessions can help. This happens when depression is the result of an inability to adjust to, for example, a sudden change in our life, such as the death of a loved one, major loss, or divorce.
When to Take Pills?
If the doctor decides so. And don’t worry, they have almost no side effects, and they deal with depression very effectively. Their only drawback is that they start working after about six weeks. This is what discourages many patients:
stop taking medications because if they don’t act immediately, why take them? Pharmacotherapy will help, but you need to be systematic – and this is a problem in people with depression: they are not motivated to take drugs – even this is a huge effort for them.
Therefore, it is best for someone with depression to be looked after by someone close to you, at least in this first step, before the medications take effect.
Drugs or Therapy?
Not necessarily. Sometimes the best results are achieved when both methods are combined:
once the drugs take effect, patients are offered individual and group therapy. Therapy teaches you to recognize the symptoms of recurrent depression, ask for help, and solve problems effectively. It would also be good if the relatives of the patient came to the therapy.
Learning to Live at Peace With Depression
Yes. The family is acutely affected by depression because there are many negative emotions in this disease. You need to help not only the sick person but also the person who cares for them.
Because we understand that the loved one is bad, but …
It pisses us off that he has stopped working and is running out of money. Or that she doesn’t get out of bed. Or does nothing at home. Or he just sits and stares straight ahead and doesn’t say anything when we’re talking to him. It doesn’t help at all, you have to handle it.
And when we collapse from exhaustion after a whole day of work, he says “he wants to lie down”, they can get nervous. We often cannot cope with the disease in the family. There are various tensions. Therefore, support groups were created for families, and therapists were trained.
Depression – Causes
Researchers have been trying to find the causes of depression for a long time. Diagnosing and treating mental illness is still difficult and controversial. There are still more questions than answers. It is difficult to define the causes of depression, although research has been going on for years, it is impossible to fully determine where it comes from.
Some believe that genetics (molecular genetics show that a tendency to depressive disorders is transmitted) and chronic diseases, e.g. brain tumor, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, play a role in the development of depression. or atherosclerosis of the cerebral vessels.
According to some scientists, taking certain medications can also contribute to the development of depression, e.g. drugs for high blood pressure or cancer.
These diseases accompany patients throughout their lives while causing certain limitations in everyday functioning. Over time, they even lead to partial disability and even death as a result of complications. Patients often cannot cope mentally with the disease that affects them, hence the occurrence of states of low mood and depression.
The lack of certain vitamins, especially folic acid and vitamin B6, may also contribute to the development of depression. There is also a biochemical hypothesis that depression arises from the malfunctioning of the limbic system, the system responsible for our defenses, behavior, maternal instincts, and sexual urges and aggression.
It is also a malfunction of the hypothalamus responsible for the feeling of satiety, hunger, thirst, and pleasure, and the reticular system that regulates the state of sleep and wakefulness.
Socio-economic factors may also play a significant role in depression. Not infrequently unemployment, financial problems, divorce, illness of a loved one, or loneliness – lead to the emergence of the disease, although not always.
The aforementioned factors often make a person unable to cope with their problems and fall into depressive states. Then, the treatment of depression consists of helping the patient and supporting him in solving life difficulties that have happened to him.
Depression does not ask about gender, age, and economic situation. Anyone can get sick. However, there are certain factors that greatly increase the risk of these disorders. Depression is very often underestimated, believing that it is only a depressed mood, a worse day that will pass after a few days. However, depression is a serious illness called pain in the soul.
Depression – Types
1. Endogenous depression – the patient loses meaning in life, feels sad and depressed, lacks the energy to live and take any action. The causes of this depression are deficiencies in hormones such as serotonin and noradrenaline.
Deficiencies cause disturbances in the transmission of information in the brain, which lead to mood disorders. Patients with endogenous depression often have suicidal thoughts and even attempt suicide.
2. Masked depression – this type of depression is characterized by rather somatic symptoms, such as menstrual disorders, sleep disorders, or back pain and headaches.
Often, patients with this type of depression seek a diagnosis from many specialists, unfortunately to no avail. Masked depression is difficult to diagnose and is often associated with dyspnoea, asthma, and eating disorders.
3. Reactive depression – its cause is most often a psychological trauma that completely changes the current life, eg death of a loved one or rape. It is easy to diagnose.
4. Anxiety depression – its characteristic features are panic attacks, aggression, irritability, and mood swings. People with this type of depression have a high risk of suicide.
5. Postnatal Depression – Unlike baby blues, postnatal depression lasts more than a few weeks. The reasons for its formation are hormonal changes that appear as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. Sick feeling mood swings laughs once and then cries.
Often, women with postpartum depression lose interest in their babies. In extreme cases, they resort to inflicting a scar on the baby.
6. Bipolar disorder – characterized by the alternating occurrence of manic and depressive disorders. During the depressive phase, the patient’s mood drops, and in the mania phase – increases.
Then the sick person is cheerful and full of energy. These types of disorders persist throughout life, and there is also a risk of suicide attempts, about 20% of which are an end in death. Bipolar depression is treated with psychotherapy, drugs, and neuroleptics.
7. Seasonal depression – often occurs in the autumn and winter period, when our body receives a much smaller dose of light/sun. Seasonal depression is characterized by drowsiness, trouble sleeping, lack of energy to act, increased appetite, and mood swings.
8. Dysthymia is a chronic disease that may last up to 2 years. The symptoms of dysthymia are sadness, depression, lack of energy, tension, trouble sleeping, mood swings, lack of appetite, and irritability.
Anxiety depression is also known as neurotic depression. Its symptoms are a bit lighter, but sick people still feel severe anxiety. It is most intense right in the morning and before going to bed. People suffering from this type of depression often complain of constant fatigue, although they have not really done anything to exhaust them.
Neurotic depression causes the patient to withdraw from social life due to anxiety. It is very important to get help quickly because such people have suicide attempts. Occurring anxiety and fatigue often obscure the causes of ailments, which is why sick people often ignore their hopeless mood.
People who follow predetermined rules and patterns in their lives are most prone to this type of depression. It often occurs in people who are responsible for a larger group of people or who are unable to compromise. Such behavior causes the patient to constantly fear losing their position or losing their good opinion in the eyes of other people.
People who cannot share their emotions (suppress them in themselves) and those who cannot come to terms with failure and endure bad experiences badly also have a tendency to anxiety depression. Therefore, in the risk group, there are people who enjoy only successes, while all difficulties are insurmountable for them.
People suffering from anxiety depression are most often given anti-anxiety antidepressants, which reduce anxiety symptoms, regulate sleep and improve mood. However, pharmacotherapy should be combined with appropriate psychotherapy, which is to help change the patient’s thinking. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is most effective.
Depression – Treatment
Treatment of depression consists of taking pharmacological preparations and appropriate psychotherapy. Patients are most often prescribed:
antidepressants influencing the blood levels of serotonin and noradrenaline;
nonselective norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (tricyclic antidepressants);
selective norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
The effects of treatment should be visible after a few weeks of treatment. It is possible to take pharmacological agents during psychotherapy treatment.
When it comes to psychotherapy, we mention:
- Interpersonal therapy.
- Cognitive therapy.
- Psychodynamic therapy.
You can often hear that antidepressants are addictive. This is a misconception that arose from the theory that drugs that affect brain function are addictive. It is also a myth that antidepressant therapy causes tolerance and the need to take higher and higher doses of the drug. In fact, the dose of drugs is increased only when drug therapy is ineffective.
Of course, there are times when people with depression develop a kind of anxiety and a feeling of relapse if they miss one or more doses of the drug, but this is the result of their belief that treatment is of no benefit.