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What is Depression: Causes, Major Signs, Symptoms, Types

Depression is a complex mood disorder which is generally marked by crushing sadness. It is a leading cause for non-communicable disability, in some cases even communicable disability. Depression impacts our immunity and overall health too. However, Depression as a condition is shrouded in mystery as for the longest time survivors refused to speak about depression and the impact it has had on their lives. So, let’s try and understand depression and how is it markedly different from grief, and anxiety. How to identify the signs and symptoms of depression. Interestingly enough, there are different types of depression, and each type has a different approach to dealing with depression.

Depression

Did you know that diet and depression are also related? That there are different ways to treat depression and while antidepressants help, it is always much better to be aware of the types of antidepressants and their interactions as well as side effects. But people suffered from depression even before antidepressants were found, are there natural remedies for treating depression? And since the condition is riddled with mystery, there are several myths about depression, that need to be busted. And if you believe that you are alone in this, you are not, we would like to end this piece on depression with case studies or stories of survivors you may know and relate to. Depression is a very scary disease but it is beatable, so let’s learn more about this condition.

Contents

What is Depression?

Depression is a severe mood disorder, which has a negative impact on a person’s psyche and the way they experience emotions, which then negatively impacts their perception, which in turn affects their behaviour. Depression is marked by a consisted disinterest in activities a person used to enjoy before, this disinterest is accompanied by moments of irritation and anger or feelings of deep sadness. Depression can make a person dysfunctional, however, an individual is said to be suffering from depression if the said symptoms have been consistent for over two weeks.

What is Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition, it can be chronic or acute but it is treatable.  It is, however, important to remember that sometimes other diseases like vitamin D deficiency, brain tumor, thyroid and so on can also cause symptoms which look similar to the symptoms of depression. Thus, it is always good to consult a doctor and plan for all tests to eliminate all other possibilities. Globally, depression affects nearly 6.7% people or one in 15 adults, it can strike at any age, however, the first diagnosis for most cases are in their late teens or early 20s. Some studies have shown that depression may have a gender, as according to them nearly ⅓ women will suffer from depression at one point in their lives.

Depression Vs Grief:

It is often easy to confuse depression with sadness or acute grief, as both indicate feeling copious amounts of sadness. However, one needs to remember that grief is short lived and is a part of the process of moving on, thus a person generally remembers positive emotions related to the cause of grief. However, when one is struggling with depression, their mind is stuck in a loop of sadness, which gradually escalates so much that a person is only able to feel sadness. It is a condition which is marked by constant sadness along with feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness and self-loathing for an extended period, the minimum being two weeks, depression also preys on their energy to do anything, at its most extreme stages, depression can lead to suicide.

Fast Facts on Depression:

  1. Throughout the world, over 300 million people belonging to all age groups suffer from depression.
  2. Globally, depression is one of the major contributors to the increasing burden of disease, additionally, it also causes disability.
  3. There have been studies which prove that depression is more rampant among women than men.
  4. Severe depression can also lead to suicide.
  5. According to WHO, 56,675,969 people in India suffer from depression, that’s 4.5% of the population.
  6. According to a report submitted by ASSOCHAM: 42.5% of people working in the corporate sector suffer from depression.
  7. The Indian government has already put out a statement where it believes that 1 in every 5 people in India is in need of psychiatric or psychological care.
  8. About 3 in every 100 Indians, living in urban India may suffer from depression 3/100 in urban India suffer from depression
  9. Between 2008- 2015, the rate of depression, and anxiety amongst corporate workers have increased by 40%- 50% in India.
  10. It is also a known fact that in India, nearly half the patients do not receive any kind of treatment.
  11. In India, deaths because of depression have a tally of around 350 per day.
  12. According to WHO depression induced suicide in India is higher among younger or among people below 44 years of age.
  13. 65% of the times depression and anxiety are confused with each other.

Depression: What are the Major Signs & Symptoms

Depression is a very tricky mood disorder, while it is extremely evident in some people, others may suffer in silence and not be able to express how they feel till it is really late. Some very common and popularised symptoms of depression include withdrawal, oversleeping or too little sleep, extreme anger issues, or frequent breakdowns. However, depression is also influenced by gender and some symptoms are exhibited by specific genders. Here are some examples of the same:

Signs & Symptoms  of Depression in Women:

In 2015, the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience1 published a comparative work by Albert, Paul R., who tried to answer the fundamental question, “Why is depression more prevalent in women?” During the course of his arguments, the author, talked about global incidents of women suffering from depression was nearly 2 folds higher than that of men. Of the many theories he explored, he argued, that maybe women suffer more because of their genetics, seeing as women have XX chromosome and men have XY chromosome, however, this reason has not yet been proven.

The other reason for such an instance could be socialization, whereby, women are trained from childhood to develop a tendency to internalize everything, making them internalize everything, this coupled with the social attitude towards women, where they are generally overburdened, emotionally, financially, physically, and sexually may point towards this higher instance of depression among women.

In 2015, the Indian Journal of Psychiatry2 published a paper by Bohra Neena et al who discussed the prevalence of depression among women in the Indian context. The researchers quoted WHO, which has declared that by 2020 depression would be highest cause disability. That being said, India is said to be one of the most depressed countries in the world. While the official number based on reported cases say that nearly 9% of the Indian population suffers from depression, however, given the number of unreported or untreated cases present in India, this number may be higher.

The researchers believe that stressful, target and deadline oriented jobs in India have led Indian women to suffer from anxiety and depression, such work demands added to personal demands invariably leads to anxiety and depression among women.

Symptoms of Depression in Women

Women may display the following symptoms of depression:

  • Headaches, stabbing or sharp pain which become chronic and are not mitigated by treatment, and digestive disorders
  • Finding it difficult to make decisions, absent mindedness, and inability to concentrate.
  • Suicidal thoughts, or thoughts about death, even attempts to commit suicide.
  • Feeling exhausted all the time, or having slower reflexes/reactions
  • Decreased diet/weight loss, or weight gain due to overeating
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping or tendency to oversleep
  • Feeling worthless, guilty, hopeless, helpless, and pessimistic
  • Frequent breakdowns (episodes of crying)
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Lack of interest and motivation in carrying out activities that were previously enjoyed including sex.

Signs & Symptoms of Depression in Men:

While depression is comparatively less prevalent in men, it may display different symptoms in men. We need to remember here that depression is a severe mood disorder, which means that mood reactions would be expressed as amplified versions of their normal responses to such moods. Since, we have established in the previous subsection, that expression of moods also depends on socialization, this one clue may give us some insight on how men may respond to feelings to extreme sadness. Some men may become aggressive, others may suffer from insomnia, or consult a doctor for physical symptoms, which loosely resemble symptoms of cardiovascular diseases or hypertension.

More often than not, men may turn to intoxicants, like drugs or alcohol to suppress the emotions they are feeling, and hence, there are more chances of men dieing due to overdose as a form of suicide, even when more women are believed to attempt suicide.

Symptoms of Depression in Men

Men may display, the following symptoms of depression:

  • Withdrawal or isolation
  • Alcohol or drug abuse/addiction
  • Thrill-seeking by putting oneself at risk
  • Not being able to fulfill expected responsibilities towards work, or family
  • Unexplained aches, cramps, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, problems with digestion.
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts to commit suicide
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Exhaustion, along with insomnia or tendency to sleep too much
  • Absent mindedness, and/or slower reflexes and actions
  • Feeling edgy or anxious
  • Loss of interest and motivation in carrying out activities once enjoyed
  • Aggressive behaviour marked by restlessness, irritable behaviour, and episodes of anger.

Severe Depression:

Depression is not just defined by genders, it is also marked by severity. While it is common, persons suffering from milder forms of depression may show common symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and sadness, which last persistently for two weeks or more. However, in its severest form, depression is not just chronic, it is debilitating, causing disability. Here are a few symptoms of severe depression:

Insomnia or Excessive Sleeping

  • Persistent insomnia which lasts for weeks or oversleeping, without even waking up for food or to carry out other functions
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • The person is unable to care for themselves, they are unable to carry out even normal day to day functions like bathing or eating.
  • Display of symptoms of psychosis like delusions or hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts to commit suicide
  • Constant misgivings even when there is no reason for worrying
  • Feeling helpless.

Causes of Depression:

Depression can be triggered because of several reasons, there is no competition between causes and the severity of depression one suffers from. We need to remember this because we often hear people say, “Such and such had absolutely no trouble in life, why would they be depressed? This new generation just needs a lot of attention.”

Causes of Depression

Such insensitive understanding of the causes of depression, further isolates persons with depression, thus, it is important for us to educate ourselves on the possible causes of depression:

  • Genetics:

There has been enough research conducted to prove that a family history of depression increases the risk of depression. However, researchers have not been able to pinpoint a specific gene strain which causes depression. In fact, it is believed that there are several genetic strands which factor in small changes, which make an individual susceptible to depression.

  • Sudden death or loss of a loved one:

Sometimes the shock of losing a loved one suddenly may be enough trigger for someone to develop depression.

  • Major Illnesses:

Sometimes, other medical conditions, like serious illnesses may trigger the development of depression.

  • Medicines:

Sometimes, the intake of some medicines to treat certain issues may cause depression as a side effect.

  • Abusing Addictive Substances:

It has become increasingly evident, that several addicts who abuse substances are actually trying to suppress an emotional crisis. As many as nearly 30% of all addicts are also suffering from mood disorders like clinical depression.

  • Personal Conflict:

Disputes or conflicts of interest, which acutely affect the individual may be enough trigger to cause depression in an individual.

Depression can also be caused, if the conflict is so intense that the individual has been cut off from those he/she once considered his/her support pillars.

  • Experiencing Abuse:

Emotional, financial, physical, and/or sexual abuse whether experienced in the past or present may lead to the development of depression. In fact, depression is a known comorbidity for PTSD.

  • Life Changing Events:

Life changing events which cause a disruption of normalcy in an individual may cause someone enough stress to develop depression. Even happy and desirable events like graduation from school, marriage, the birth of a child can lead someone to spiral into depression, especially, if the person is not able to create a proper sync between what his/her life is, as opposed to how they envisioned it.

  • Changes in the Brain:

There has been a body of research to establish depression as a complex condition, however, not much is known about this particular condition. Some believe that depression is caused because of some chemical imbalance, while others believe it is a pure psychosocial response, while even more believe that it could be genetic, and then some talk about the inability of the individual to the adapt to change. However, some argue that depression can be caused of all the reasons listed above, which causes changes in the brain chemistry and function, leading it to believe that it needs to over or under produce certain mood-influencing chemicals.

Different Types of Depression:

If anyone believes that depression is just one kind of condition which is marked by frequent breakdowns, and persistent depressive thoughts which lead to extreme aggression, then we are all mistaken. Depending on the degree and the type of response exhibited by an individual, depression can be divided into several categories. Here are different types of depression:

Types of Depression

  • Situational Depression:

Also, known as “Stress Response Syndrome” this is generally not considered as a type of depression within the depression spectrum. This is generally caused due to some major life event like marriage, the birth of a child, loss of a loved one, loss of job, change of cities and so on. Psychotherapy, can help an individual overcome this acute condition.

  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD):

Women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder display symptoms of depression at the start of their menstrual cycle. However, these depressive symptoms are accompanied by other symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Change in sleep habits or appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

Also known as “Winter Blues” are more rampant in places which receive little to no sunlight during the winter months. The symptoms generally dissipate as soon as spring or summer arrive. However, during the winter months, people can either opt for antidepressants or for light therapy.

Light therapy would require an individual to sit in a bright room for 30-40 minutes every day.

  • Bipolar Disorder:

Earlier, this disease was known as “Manic Depression”. Bipolar disorder is now considered as a separate psychological condition, which is marked by phases of extreme highs, where a person may even appear to be overly excited and suddenly very driven to achieve one’s goals, and depressive lows, where a person may show signs or symptoms of depression.

  • Psychotic Depression:

Psychotic depression is different from major depression despite the fact that most of its symptoms resemble those of major depressive disorder. This difference comes from the extra symptoms that persons suffering from psychotic depression display, namely, hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. These added symptoms could make the individual lash out in a physically harmful manner or drive them to commit suicide. Treatment for such cases include, antidepressants along with antipsychotic drugs, although some may even opt for ECT.

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD):

PDD was previously known as dysthymia and it is known to have either few or comparatively milder symptoms, however, PDD also lasts for a longer time. This condition is diagnosed only if the patient has been constantly depressed for a period of at least two years.  Here are the other symptoms one must pay attention to in case of PDD:

  • Sluggish reactions indicating a lack of energy
  • Being indecisive
  • Needing excessive sleep or suffering from insomnia
  • Suffering from a consistent poor appetite or need to overeat
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Displaying low self-esteem
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD):

Generally, when people discuss depression, they discuss the symptoms of major depressive disorder. A person suffering with MDD may be in a constant state of emptiness, sadness, and despair. The minimum time frame for diagnosing MDD is two weeks. It is a debilitating condition and can seriously hamper a patient’s health as they start losing any joy or pleasure they felt while doing some activities, including sex. People who suffer from MDD may have difficulty eating, working, sleeping, even making or maintaining a human connection. MDD is also known as “Clinical Depression”. It is important to remember that MDD could both be chronic and acute and sometimes, due to other factors, the symptoms may be different from the common ones.

  • Atypical Depression:

Atypical depression is different because the person suffering from it may not always show outward signs of constant sadness. Persistent sadness is said to be a very important indication in the diagnosis of depression. But when a person suffers from atypical depression, they can show signs of mood improvement in case of experiencing positive events. However, here are some common symptoms of atypical depression:

  • Heaviness in arms and legs
  • Needing more than usual sleep
  • Increase in appetite
  • Being overly sensitive to criticism

Clinical Depression vs Situational Depression:

The biggest difference between clinical depression and situational depression is that situational depression isn’t even counted as a type of depression, formally. In fact, if it came to that, situational depression may not even be diagnosed as depression at all. Here is a brief understanding of clinical and situational depression.

Understanding Clinical Depression:

Also known as Major Depressive Disorder, clinical depression is marked by a persistent feeling of sadness and emptiness for more than two weeks. There maybe be several subtypes or branches of clinical depression like persistent depressive disorder, seasonal depression, postpartum depression, or psychotic depression. Clinical depression can be triggered by both positive and negative major life changes or other trauma-inducing situations. Clinical depression can happen once, twice, or become chronic. One needs to remember that a person suffering from clinical depression may not even show the most obvious sign of clinical depression, which is continuous sadness, he/she may, however, show signs of constant fatigue or irritation. It is most likely that clinical depression will recur.  

It is also important to understand that clinical depression may be influenced by gender as far as display of symptoms is concerned. The display of symptoms also depends on the individual as well as on the severity of the disease. Symptoms can overlap each other thus, a rigorous test set is required before one reaches a diagnosis.

Understanding Situational Depression:

Situational depression is not even treated as a type of depression by professionals. In fact, it is generally seen as a temporary adjustment disorder, while it may not look as serious, it shouldn’t be ignored. People from any age and social standing can suffer from situational depression. Situational depression is often reduced with time as a person slowly starts adapting to their new premises. However, if a person still shows symptoms of situational depression even after 3 months of being exposed to a new environment then they are diagnosed with this disorder. It is important to remember that rigorous diagnostic tests should be conducted to ensure that a person is not suffering from something as severe as PTSD. Also, the symptoms of situational depression may overlap with the symptoms of clinical depression, the only difference being that situational depression dissolves within a couple of weeks.

Clinical Depression Vs Situational Depression
Clinical Depression
Situational Depression
DefinitionClinical depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder is a type of depression where a person lives in a constant state of sadness for more than two weeks.Situational depression is generally considered as an adjustment disorder, where a person is not able to adjust to  a positive or negative change in their lives which causes them to feel constantly sad for more than three months.
CausesMajor life changes like loss of a loved one, starting a new relationshipMajor life changes like loss of a loved one
Family historyPositive life changes
IllnessDisruption in well known patterns
Medications
Abuse
SymptomsConstant sadnessShowing signs of sadness
Inability to feel any motivation or pleasure in activities that were once pleasurableEpisodes of crying
Feeling hopeless and helplessNervousness, hopelessness, tiredness
Feeling guilty or worthlessShowing physical symptoms without any diagnosis, like stomach aches, head aches and so on
Slower responses, lack of energy, fatigueBeing temperamental and argumentative
Indecisiveness, problems in concentrating, and absent-mindedness             Avoiding work or school
Sleeping too much or insomniaDisruption of sleeping habits or appetite
Loss of appetite or overeatingSubstance abuse
Feeling irritable, anxious, and restless
Physical symptoms without any diagnosis, like heart palpitations, and digestive issues.
Suicidal thoughts, along with attempts to commit suicide.
TreatmentDepending on the severity psychotherapy along with antidepressantsPsychotherapy to help adapt to change may help

Clinical Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

Depression and anxiety are often confused with each other, and if not confused they may appear together in a person. So, we will first try to understand the differences between Clinical Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder and then look at how the two can be comorbid.

Clinical Depression Vs Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Depression
Anxiety
DefinitionClinical depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder is a type of depression where a person lives in a constant state of sadness for more than two weeks. People suffering from such symptoms may be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder, seasonal depression, postpartum depression and so on.Generalized anxiety disorder is a disruptive mood disorder where a person is under a constant fight or flight situation. An individual suffering from anxiety disorder may show symptoms of expecting bad things to happen even when the situation is completely safe. Types of anxiety disorders include separation anxiety, panic disorder and so on.
SymptomsConstant sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessnessConstant and excessive worrying
Irritability and restlessnessExpecting the worse
Disruption of sleep, either insomnia or too much sleepFatigue
Fatigue and trouble concentratingTrouble concentrating and restless
Lack of interest in activities that previously brought pleasureDisruption of sleep pattern, finding it difficult to fall asleep
Suicidal thoughts or attempts to commit suicidesRacing thoughts
Muscle tension
Irritability
Duration of Symptoms before Diagnosis2 weeks at leastSix months at least

Are Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder Comorbid?

When compared the symptoms of clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder may seem to overlap, especially, if we consider symptoms like sleeping trouble, problems with concentration, and tiredness. Irritability is also an overlapping symptom, however, there are some differentiating symptoms. Depression is marked with slowness, a person normally shows slower reflexes, however, a person with anxiety looks more keyed up and full of nervous energy. Another differentiating symptom is the response of persons with anxiety and depression on the prospect of a future, while persons with anxiety are afraid of the future, persons with depression are more resigned to the fact that the future will be bad.

There is a substantial amount of evidence that depression and anxiety are comorbid, and together they may be responsible for 2%- 4% of all disability globally. However, there has been little research on how anxiety and depression are comorbid. Some researchers believe that this comorbidity arises from genetics as , some believe it is related to the HPA or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis function, while others believe that it is related to psychosocial conditions.

Dealing with Depression:

Dealing with depression can be difficult, because it feels like a dark cloud over a person’s head and offers no respite. Sometimes, this makes people lose all motivation and spiral into the negativity. However, there are tiny ways in which people can help themselves get better:

  • Exercise:

It may sound really cliched for maintaining a regular exercise routine may help you manage the symptoms of depression. Normal or light exercise can help our brain recharge and feel more positive feelings, which is why several psychotherapists may ask their patients to have a regular exercise routine.

  • Express:

Expressing doesn’t mean that one is weak, some of the most ingenious works of art and literature have emerged from people who have expressed their emotions through an art form of their choice. Several persons with depression turn to self-harm to stop themselves from hurting emotionally, a healthier approach is to express it out on pen and paper or on the dancefloor or play an instrument.

  • Eat Healthily:

Food is an intricate part of your system, it can also affect your mood. While chocolate can lift your mood, too much of chocolate can also make you sick. So, choose a healthy diet, which is rich in vitamins, especially Vitamin D.

  • Seek Help:

Seeking help is not a sign of extreme weakness, it is a sign of strength. It is a sign that a person has not given up yet and is willing to fight back to change their situation. Seeking help is the first step to healing and it should be marked with pride.

  • Acceptance:

Most people who suffer from clinical depression have a difficult time admitting that they have a problem or are not feeling well enough mentally and emotionally. Acknowledging and accepting your problem encourages you to seek help and heal better.

  • Avoid Intoxicating Substances:

Intoxicating substances like alcohol and drugs are things a person turns to, in order to numb their emotions down, so that they are not hurting anymore. While this may look helpful it is not, it is a temporary and addictive solution, which would only lead to worsening your condition in the long run. Thus, all intoxicants should be avoided both during and after the process of healing.

Are Depression and Diet-related?

34There have been several research papers proving that depression and diet may be related. Several studies have proved that people who consume high quantities of poor quality foods like processed meant, preserved desserts, oily food, high-fat dairy products and so on, may actually fuel the development or symptoms of depression. In fact, people who eat foods which are more green and fresh, along with enough amount fish or fish oil are less likely to have depression. People who are out in the sun also have fewer chances of depression. In fact, a healthy diet has been known to prevent all kinds of mood disorders. However, more research is required in this field before one could come to a definite solution.

Ways to Treat Depression Disorder

  • Counselling and Psychotherapy

Counseling is the first step to treating depression disorder. During the process of counseling your counselor helps you talk and express your emotions and confusion about your condition and the despair you are feeling. That being said, the counselor is also your first point of diagnosis, if the degree of your depression is lesser, then the counselor would suggest you therapy to help you heal from depression. However, in case you are suffering from a higher degree of the condition, you may need to seek the help of a psychiatrist and opt for antidepressants.

  • What is an antidepressant?

Antidepressants were initially developed in the 1950s, and in the last 20 years, they have become more commonplace. Antidepressants are a set of medicines which seek to correct the mood-altering chemical imbalances in the brain, helping relieve the symptoms of not just depression but other mood disorders like anxiety disorder, seasonal depression, and so on.

Antidepressants, Types, List, Side Effects, and Interactions

Antidepressants can be of various types and have different side effects as well as interactions. Here are different types of antidepressants:

Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

One of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, serotonin, and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors are used to treat MDD along with other mood disorders like OCD and so on. SNRIs help relieve symptoms by raising the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine that help stabilize mood.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are also one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They are extremely effective in treating depression and seem to have fewer side effects. SSRIs help balance mood by blocking the absorption of serotonin by the brain. SSRIs are called selective because they selectively work on serotonin.

Both SNRIs and SSRIs have similar side effects which are:

  • Weight Loss
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Abnormal Thinking
  • Low Sodium

Noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs)

These are used to mood as well as behaviour disorders like anxiety, and depression.

Side effects include:

  • Seizures
  • Weight Gain
  • Dizziness
  • Reduction of White Blood Cells
  • Allergic Reaction
  • Fainting

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

Before  SNRIs and SSRIs became popular, MAOIs were the popular antidepressants. MAOI help inhibits the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase which generally breaks down serotonin. The aim of the medicine is to reduce the breakdown of serotonin so that more of it is available for circulation. It was believed that more serotonin can help minimize the symptoms of anxiety and help stabilize mood. Doctors now opt for MAOIs when SSRIs and SNRIs do not work or have interactions with some kinds of food.  Here are the side effects of MAOIs:

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

Tricyclic Antidepressants are so named because of how their chemical structure which has three rings. These medications are used to treat depression, but they can also be used to help control chronic pain. Side effects include:

  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Pressure on Eye
  • Weight Loss
  • Anxiety
  • Arrhythmia
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures

Side effects of Antidepressants

Side effects are generally visible within the first two weeks of taking medication, and it is believed that they can wear off with time. While we have specific side effects of antidepressants along with their types, here are some common side effects:

Changes in Mood and Behaviour: Antidepressants may cause mania as a side effect. However, one must understand, that this side effect is merely the outing of an otherwise inhibited condition. A new condition is not caused as a side effect.

Suicidal thoughts: This side effect is still in speculation as no one can say if the person was already thinking of suicide. However, a few cases have reported that antidepressants can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts, but more research is required in this field. However, most countries require pharmaceutical companies to mention this effect as a possible side effect, as a recautionary measure.

Withdrawal: While several people have argued that antidepressants cause one addiction, it is not as accurate as saying that antidepressants cause withdrawal. Long-term use of any kind of medicines can lead to a certain dependency, which is true for antidepressants too. This also means that they will cause withdrawal as side effect, some symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, nightmares, flu-like symptoms, feeling electric shock-like sensations, and so on. It is also important to remember that this withdrawal symptom is visible in nearly 30% of all people who use SNRIs and SSRIs.

Natural Treatment or Remedies for Depression:

There are several herbs which are believed to help alleviate the symptoms of depression without causing harmful side effects, here are some herbs:

St. John’s Wort:

Also known as “Hypericum Perforatum”, St. John’s Wart has been a popular natural supplement to treat mild, and moderate levels of depression along with other mood disorders. It has been used as a cure for centuries and is still a popular herb in amongst the Europian Nations. In fact, there have been several research studies that have validated the effects of St. John’s Wort, however, this natural supplement is a big no-no for people with bipolar symptoms as it is known to possibly cause mania.

Ginseng:

Ginseng, Ginger or our very own Adarak has been a part of Chinese and Indian traditional medicines for years. This herb has been known to improve energy, by reducing stress and providing mental clarity, which is why sometimes we feel refreshed after having a simple soup which has fused the flavours of ginger. However, like St. John’s Wort, Ginseng can also cause mania.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Research has indicated that Omega-3 Fatty Acids can reduce the symptoms of clinical depression without causing any other side effects, in fact, Omega-3 Fatty acids can also improve heart health in the process.

Ashwagandha:

Also known as the herb for all purposes, Ahswagandha5 is an adaptive herb, which is known to display mood stabilizing properties especially in cases of anxiety and depression.

Tulsi:

The holy Tulsi is found in every household in India. It is known as a plant that purifies the body and mind, and this belief might be grounded in a more practical understanding of the plant than the often alluded to spiritual one. Tulsi is an adaptogenic herb and it displays therapeutic properties, which can help minimize the symptoms of depression without causing much side effect.

Moringa:

Moringa6 tree is called the “tree of life” as the plant is rich in over 90 nutrients in a herb for all purposes. Some researches have found that Moringa is as effective as SSRIs, without causing as many side effects as SSRIs do.

Looking at the battery of mental health issues that have become a part of today’s “modern life”, Medlife decided to bring back the wisdom of the old days and combine it with the precise and technology of today, leading to the creation of Medlife Essentials. A series of herbal supplements which are good for your overall health, and cause no harm. Medlife has launched a range of affordable and safe supplements, like Ashwagandha, Tulsi, and Moringa.

Explore Medlife Essentials

Note: Herbal supplements are designed to assist your recovery, they should be used to replace meal or medicines without proper consultation with an expert.

Common Myths on Depression

Depression has been a hushed-up topic for so long, especially because it was perceived with a sense of shame. This silence around depression has led to the rise of several myths and misconception about depression. Here are a few myths about depression:

Myths on Depression

“Depression is not an Actual Illness”

Many people believe that depression is the sign of the overly dramatic feeling sad about something. For others, depression is a sign of extreme weakness, and for even others, depression is a form of emotional manipulation or excuse for a person to be a “lazy, good-for-nothing”. Please remember, that depression is a complex mood disorder and the person who is suffering from it would rather not feel this sad all the time. Moreover, depression stems from several factors like biology, social environment and so on. If you feel like you or your loved ones may be suffering from depression, seek help immediately.

“You can just Stop being Depressed at Will”

No, you cannot simply just snap out of depression. Depression is not a phase or fandom that a person can get caught up to and leave at will. Depression, in fact, does not allow people many choices or no one would choose stay depressed all their time. Depression is a sickness, it is not self pity, it is not laziness or freeloading.

A depressed person cannot drive away depression by positive thought alone, yes, an attitude change or a more positive attitude can help, but only when it is coupled with the right treatment and the positive attitude is actually emerging from a sense of accomplishment and winning over the disease. Taking medical help, be it counseling or medicinal are the only way forward for depression.

“Depression is the Side effect of a Tragedy”

Yes, a personal loss or tragedy may trigger depression, but depression is not always caused because of sad events in the past or present. People with seemingly perfect lives can suffer from depression, while there have been speculations about the causes of depression, no one can say for sure what causes a human being to feel crushing levels of despair and hopelessness for prolonged periods, especially without cause or explanation.

“Depression is Genetic”

A family history of depression may make one susceptible to depression, however, research is yet to prove that depression and genetic makeup are related to each other. However, it is always wise to keep yourself getting screened regularly for depression if you have a family history.

“Antidepressants alter your Personality and Cause Addiction”

Long-term use of antidepressants may cause a certain dependence and may even cause withdrawal as a side effect but these medicines are severly monitored. Since antidepressants are used to normalize the chemical balance in a patient’s brain, they, in fact, help patients gain a certain amount of their normal behaviour back. Also, treatment for depression also makes room for parallel psychotherapy which means that a patient always has emotional and mental support to get off antidepressants in a healthy manner.

“Talking about Depression Prevents you from Getting out of the Loop”

It is a common myth that talking about depression, generally, makes people stay in their depressive loop. But in reality, staying alone with your thoughts is more harmful than talking about them. However, most people do not talk because they are afraid of the judgment they may face. It is very important to find reliable and nonjudgmental people to listen to your thoughts.

Read More: Common Myths and Facts about Depression

Depression Case Studies

Sometimes people with depression feel so isolated that they believe they are the only ones going through this pain. However, this is not true. Here are a few famous people who have struggled with depression and have come out shining through it.

Manisha Koirala:

Manisha Koirala

Manish Koirala was diagnosed with clinical depression, it is believed that her clinical depression stemmed because of her strained relationship with her husband. Manisha Koirala is also a cancer survivor and post her treatment and recovery from both conditions, she has a new outlook on her life.

Deepika Padukone:

Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone was the first Bollywood actress to come out and speak openly about suffering from depression and surviving it. She has gone one step further and is recently seen in a number of advertisements, claimining she not ashamed, urging others to seek help for depression and other mental health disorders.

Related Read: Deepika Padukone Diet Plan 

Johnny Depp:

Johnny Depp

If you really observe Johnny Depp’s stance in interviews, you will notice someone who speaks almost too softly, most of the times it sounds like he is mumbling and even his reactions are very slow and controlled. Johnny Depp as a person has suffered from severe anxiety, which has led to depression. His affliction is so severe, that he has 24*7 access to counselors, even while he is filming.

Chris Evans:

Chris Evans

Chris Evans has been the superhero of this generation, Captain America and Johnny Storm he has shown that his superhero alter egos know no fears. But Chris Evans the actor and person has suffered from debilitating anxiety which lead to depression.

Matthew Perry:

Matthew Perry

Famous for playing the character of Chandler Bing in the famous tele series F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Matthew Perry entertained the world as he struggled with depression. Matthew Perry even admitted that the years when his career was at its peak because of the success of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. were also the loneliest and worst years of his life. In order to deal with his emotions, Matthew Perry developed an addiction to alcohol, and only started seeking help when his co-stars from the show caught up on his addiction and ran an intervention for him. Now he is completely healed and has acted in movies like Sixteen again, and NBC series like Odd Couple.

J.K. Rowling:

J.K. Rowling

Before helping a generation with her stories of the “boy under the stairs”, J.K. Rowling was going through a rough divorce, was poor and responsible for supporting her daughter and suffering from depression. In fact, J.K. Rowling created dementors creatures which feed off a person’s happiness, as a symbol of depression and her suicidal thoughts.

We hope we have been able to answer as many of your questions as can be possible about depression. If you have additional questions or you need us to add some more information please do mention so in the comments.

News on Depression:

PTSD And Depression Can Be Triggered By Mild Brain Injury

                       – 22nd Jan 2019

According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, a mild brain injury can trigger symptoms of PTSD and Depression for almost 6 months after the experience of the trauma. The research was conducted between 2014-2016, in 11 hospitals across the United States of America, and covering over 1,100 patients. The study revealed that nearly 21% patients who suffered from mild brain injuries showed symptoms of PTSD and depression, as opposed to cases of non-head trauma injuries where only 12% patients displayed signs of PTSD or Depression. Brain injury in this study includes all instances of injuries to the head through blunt force, accidents, or even penetration, which could potentially or actually harm brain function for a short while. The study also revealed that motor accidents were the most common causes of mild brain injury, but also pointed out that head injuries in sports were also leading causes for mild brain injury. The study also pointed out that if a patient was already suffering from mental health issues, they were at higher risk of displaying symptoms of PTSD or depression after suffering from mild brain injuries.

The US Department of Defence, as well as the National Institute of Health,  supported the outcome of this study, but this study has ruffled some feathers in its wake, especially of some pharmaceutical companies as well as that of the National Football League.

Research Proves: E-Counseling Helps Manage Depression

– 12th Dec 2018

The Journal of Medical Internet Research recently published a research review completed by Lorenzo-Luaces et al. The review study included 21 studies, which contained the detailed responses of over 4700 participants on the functionality and effectiveness of online counseling in dealing with depression. The researchers concluded that these research showed that online counseling can help patients deal with major depressive disorder too, as some apps are designed to provide internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy.

The researchers themselves commented that they believed that these online sites and apps were designed to deal with acute symptoms of depression, or deal with people suffering from lower degrees of depression, however, these studies reveal that these internet based services have been effective in dealing with higher mood disorders too. This development is a huge relief to the health systems in place, as mental health services are much more expenses as well as the patient load is extreme on health care providers.

Moreover, online apps, provide patients with a sense of identity protection and can be accessed from anywhere, which makes outreach easier for patients suffering from depression. These online services also help people in seeking help when they show symptoms of lower levels of depression, even at risk patients can avail the services which can aid prevention of the development of depression in patients.

Music May Have A Positive Impact On Dementia Patients

– 4th Dec 2018

The Journal of Geriartrics and Gerontology, published a study conducted by researchers from George Mason University. It is widely known that the music influences the moods of people. It also has an impact on overall health and positivity in human emotion. In fact, research has also shown that plants respond positively to calming music and are healthier. The researchers now wanted to study the impact of music on the moods of persons suffering from Dementia. The study involved over 50 participants who were suffering from dementia and attending day care facilities for behavioural therapy through music. These participants were exposed to custome selection of music for 20 minutes, and then returned to the activity centre of the facility for further observations.The researchers discovered that music therapy helps reduce the agitation and anxiety in dementia patients. Participants showed an increased experience of joy, were more willing to be social, or at least make more eye contact, were more ready to get involved. Music therapy also showed a reduction in the need for sleep, or doing tasks in isolation.

Studies Show That Depression Can Cause An Increased Risk Of Heart Problems

– 4th Dec 2018

In a recent study, it showed that patients suffering from clinical depression have higher chances of developing arrhythmia which is one of the leading cause of heart problems. The study was conducted on a test group of 785,254 patients undergoing treatment for depression including anti-depression medication. The study revealed that patients who are depressed have a 3.18 times higher chances of developing atrial fibrillation which is one of the most common forms of heart rhythm disorders which often leads to problems associated with blood flow.

The study was conducted over a period of three years and showed that the patient’s risk for arrhythmia decreased as the anti-depressant medications started taking effect bringing down the chances from 7.65 fold to 1.11 fold by the end of the 12th month of antidepressant treatments.

There is much prior research that has studied the relationship between depression and heart problems. This study is still by far the most conclusive about the effects depression can have on the heart rhythm and the increased risk for developing heart disorders like arrhythmia that could lead to heart attack or serious issues with blood flow throughout the body. Earlier most people were under the impression that taking anti-depressants can have adverse effects on the health of your heart. This new study eliminates any such fear and assures that taking anti-depression medication can only reduce the risk of heart-related problems.

Obesity Increases Risk of Depression More than Other Health Issues

– 26 Nov 2018

A study by the International Journal of Epidemiology found that there is a psychological feeling of being overweight causes depression more than causing diabetes. This means that people who are overweight and obese have higher risks of suffering from depression more than any other health problem that they might be going through.

The study also proved that being overweight leads to higher risks of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. The study looked at samples from the UK Biobank that consisted of 48,000 people suffering from depression and compared them to their control group of 2,90,000 people from 1938 to 1971. Firstly, the study looked at hard data of people born between 1938 and 1971 and recovered hospital data to check for cases of depression.

Simultaneously, the team also used a genetic approach to see if obesity leads to depression and to check the causal relationship between the two. However, this genetic approach of understanding the psychological impact of being obese found out that it was the main cause of depression.

Depression in Men Could Be Tackled With Testosterone Therapy

– 15th Nov 2018

A review report submitted by a group of European researchers and published by the JAMA Psychiatry conceded that testosterone therapy may help treat depression in men. The review included studies, which increased the sample size of analysis to over 100 million men of which 17% were British. 27 studies have been reviewed since the year 2000. Some of these reviewed studies looked at testosterone deficiency, while others did not focus on diagnosing depression but looking at the symptoms of depression. Some studies were also looking at the persons who were under medication for depression.

The studies revealed that testosterone therapy can help improve mood disorders like depression. In fact, nearly 7 studies revealed that there was a 130% increase in the chance of improvement in nearly 50% of the patients through testosterone therapy. The researchers further added that even as low doses as 0.5 gms of testosterone per day can bring a significant change in the health of patients.

Deepika Padukone Opens Up About Her Struggle With Depression

– 14th Nov 2018

The newlywed darling of Bollywood Deepika Padukone is a trendsetter in her own right. She was the first actress to admit to suffering from depression on a national platform. However, what makes her different is her approach to her ailment. Deepika realized how invasive depression could be and how little people in India know about depression and thus, founded the Live Love Laugh Foundation which helps create awareness about depression as well as provide intervention and support to persons suffering from depression.

Mental health disorders in India are still tabooed topics, despite the fact that according to a WHO report India is the most depressed country in the world with 1 in 6 people suffering from a mental health issue. The most common of these disorders are schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Globally, depression is recognized as the largest cause of disability and the development of subsequent diseases. With the Live Love Laugh Foundation, and Deepika as an influencer, people have started seeing depression with a new light, however, much more work is required before India becomes competent enough to manage the growing threat of mental diseases.

Teen Depression to be Prevented by This Online Program

– 06th Nov 2018

JAMA Open Networks recently published a study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois. The researchers recognized the gap between the risk of adolescent depression and risk-mitigating steps taken by all stakeholders including the state, schools, parents, and the teenagers themselves. Thus, the researchers developed an online portal called CATCH-IT, which not only provides intervention and counseling to adolescents in crisis. It also has downloadable modules on life skills, crisis intervention, motivational speeches, and coaching tips to help prevent the instances of adolescent depression. The researchers were able to get around 350 adolescents between the ages of 13-18 years to enroll as participants for the study. These participants were given access to CATCH-IT and followed for a period of over 2 years. The researchers reported that while there was no difference in the occurrence of depression amongst the teenagers, those teenagers who had the modules from the program, were able to deal with and respond well to their own depressive symptoms. CATCH-IT on expansion is called Competent Adulthood Transition with Cognitive Behavioural, Humanistic, and Interpersonal Training. While the researchers are convinced that this should help prevent or deal with depression among adolescents, more research is required in this field.

Three New Subtypes of Depression Identified

– 29th Oct 2018

The Scientific Report recently published a study conducted by researchers from Japan. The researchers were trying to understand why SSRIs were not effective for some people. In their research which included over 130 participants, a battery of tests like blood tests, a questionnaire on stress, and quality of life, and MRI scans to map 78 regions of the brain, the researchers discovered three new subtypes of Depression. The researchers even divided 5 major statistical indicators into 3000 indicators which also included childhood trauma. The researchers worked on the common hypotheses that different subtypes of depression, interact differently with anti-depressants and thus, show different results. These tests led to the identification of three subtypes, of these one subtype which did not respond effectively to the SSRIs was connected to high functionality as well as childhood trauma, while the other two which responded well to the SSRIs, showed a lesser connection with high functionality and childhood trauma.

This has opened doors for several more theories, like the apparent interconnection between childhood trauma and development of the hard to detect high functional depression. Other areas of research also include the propensity of long-term high functional depression in negating the effects of SSRIs, and if not SSRIs then what could be a better treatment option for the subtype of depression which is connected to childhood trauma and high functional depression. More research is required into the field of depression to help understand it.

With the Most Number of Anxiety and Bipolar Disorder Cases, India is The Most Depressed Country in the World

– 22nd Oct 2018

A recent WHO research report conducted for National Care of Medical Health states that maybe the Indian government and society start taking mental health issues a little seriously. According to the report, every sixth person in India was in need of some form of mental health support, if this wasn’t enough, the report also stated that 6.5% of the total Indian population irrespective of their placement in rural or urban India suffers from a mental disorder.

The report further revealed, that if tracked agewise, the younger population of India, namely teenagers as well as young adults are more in need of mental health support. The report further added that mental health care in India is grossly inadequate with only 1 mental healthcare professional per 1,00,000 patients. Deepika Padukone, who has been a pioneer in encouraging a discussion on mental health issues, has been trying to spread awareness on mental illnesses through The Live Love Laugh Foundation, which recently conducted a survey across 8 Indian cities. The survey was designed to gauge how many people still attached stigma with mental health, the researchers reported that nearly 87% of the respondents believed that mental health was a disorder. However, as Deepika Padukone has pointed out herself, the new urban myth being, that disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders happen only to the rich and successful.

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