What is Depression?
The word depressed is a common everyday word. People might say “I’m depressed” when in fact they mean “I’m fed up because I’ve had a row, or failed an exam, or lost my job”, etc. These ups and downs of life are common and normal. Most people recover quite quickly. With true depression, you have a low mood and other symptoms each day for at least two weeks. Symptoms can also become severe enough to interfere with normal day-to-day activities. Depression is disease that affects a person’s moods. Moods are the way a person feels and how he or she expresses those feeling. Someone who suffers from depression may feel sad, angry, irritable, tired, confused, guilty, or worthless. A person who is depressed may lose interest in almost everything he or she used to enjoy.
Causes of Depression
The exact cause is not known. Anyone can develop depression. Some people are more prone to it and it can develop for no apparent reason. You may have no particular problem or worry, but symptoms can develop quite suddenly. So, there may be some genetic factor involved that makes some people more prone than others to depression. ‘Genetic’ means that the condition is passed on through families.
An episode of depression may also be triggered by a life event such as a relationship problem, bereavement, redundancy, illness, etc. In many people it is a mixture of the two. For example, the combination of a mild low mood with some life problem, such as work stress, may lead to a spiral down into depression.
Women tend to develop depression more often than men. Particularly common times for women to become depressed are after childbirth (postnatal depression) and the menopause.
Symptoms of Depression
- Many people know when they are depressed, may know that they are not right and are not functioning well but don’t know why. Some people think that they have a physical illness – for example, if they lose weight.There is a set of symptoms that are associated with depression and help to clarify the diagnosis.
- Persistent sadness or low mood. This may be with or without weepiness.
- Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities, even for activities that you normally enjoy.
- Disturbed sleep compared with your usual pattern. There may be difficulty in getting off to sleep, or waking early and being unable to get back to sleep. Sometimes it is sleeping too much.
- Change in appetite. This is often a poor appetite and weight loss. Sometimes the reverse happens with comfort eating and weight gain.
- Tiredness (fatigue) or loss of energy.
- Agitation or slowing of movements.
- Poor concentration or indecisiveness. For eg, you may find it difficult to read, work, etc. Even simple tasks can seem difficult.
- Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
- Recurrent thoughts of death. This is not usually a fear of death, more a pre-occupation with death and dying. For some people despairing thoughts such as “life’s not worth living” or “I don’t care if I don’t wake up” are common. Sometimes these thoughts progress into thoughts and even plans for suicide.
Diagnosis of Depression
- You have at least five out of the above nine symptoms.
- Symptoms cause you distress or impair your normal functioning, such as affecting your work performance.
- Symptoms occur most of the time on most days and have lasted at least two weeks.
- The symptoms are not due to a medication side-effect, or to drug or alcohol misuse, or to a physical condition such as an underactive thyroid or pituitary gland.
Many people with depression say that their symptoms are often worse first thing each day. Also, with depression, it is common to develop physical symptoms such as headaches, palpitations, chest pains and general aches. Some people consult a doctor at first because they have a physical symptom such as chest pains. They are concerned that they may have a physical problem such as a heart condition when it is actually due to depression. Depression is in fact quite a common cause of physical symptoms. But, the opposite (converse) is also true. That is, people with serious physical conditions are more likely than average to develop depression.
Some people with severe depression also develop delusions and/or hallucinations. These are called psychotic symptoms. A delusion is a false belief that a person has, and most people from the same culture would agree that it is wrong. For example, a belief that people are plotting to kill you or that there is a conspiracy about you. Hallucination means hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, or tasting something that is not real.
Treatment for Depression
- Antidepressant medicinesare commonly used to treat depression. A medicine cannot alter your circumstances. However, symptoms such as low mood, poor sleep, poor concentration, etc, are often eased with an antidepressant. This may then allow you to function more normally and increase your ability to deal with any problems or difficult circumstances.
An antidepressant does not usually work straightaway. It can take 2-4 weeks before the effect builds up fully. A common problem is that some people stop the medicine after a week or so as they feel it is not helping. You need to give it time. Also, if it is helping, follow the course that a doctor recommends. A normal course of an antidepressant lasts for at least six months after symptoms have eased. Some people stop their medication too early and the depression may then quickly return.
There are several types of antidepressants, each with various pros and cons. For example, they differ in their possible side-effects. (The leaflet that comes in the medicine packet provides a full list of possible side-effects.) If the first one that you try does not suit, then another may be found that will suit. So, tell your doctor if you have any problems with an antidepressant. Antidepressants are not tranquillizers and are not thought to be addictive.
People with depression have a good chance of improving within a few weeks of starting an antidepressant. But, they do not work in everybody. However, some antidepressants work better in some people than in others. Therefore, tell your doctor if symptoms do not start to improve after about 3-4 weeks of taking an antidepressant. In this situation it is common to advise either an increase in dose (if the maximum dose is not yet reached) or a switch to another type of antidepressant.
At the end of a course of treatment it is usual to reduce the dose gradually over about four weeks before finally stopping. This is because some people develop withdrawal symptoms if an antidepressant is stopped abruptly.
- Psychological (talking) treatments
In general, a combination of an antidepressant plus a psychological treatment is thought to be better than either treatment alone. Typically, most psychological treatments for depression last in the range of 12-20 weekly sessions of 1-2 hours per session. These are –
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – Briefly, cognitive therapy is based on the idea that certain ways of thinking can trigger, or fuel, certain mental health problems such as depression. The therapist helps you to understand your thought patterns. In particular, to identify any harmful or unhelpful ideas or thoughts which you have that can make you depressed. The aim is then to change your ways of thinking to avoid these ideas. Also, to help your thought patterns to be more realistic and helpful. Behavioral therapy aims to change any behaviors which are harmful or not helpful. CBT is a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. In short, CBT helps people to achieve changes in the way that they think, feel and behave.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT) – This is sometimes offered instead of CBT. IPT is based on the idea that your personal relationships may play a large role in affecting your mood and mental state. The therapist helps you to change your thinking and behavior and improve your interaction with others. For example, IPT may focus on issues such as bereavement or disputes with others that may be contributing to the depression.
- Behavioral activation – The basis of this therapy is that behaviors such as inactivity and ruminating on certain thoughts can be key factors in maintaining depression. The therapist aims to help you to combat these unhelpful behaviors.
- Couple therapy – This may be an option for people who have a regular partner and where the relationship contributes to the depression. Or, where involving the partner is considered to be of potential useful benefit.
- Other treatments – Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be advised as a last resort if you have severe depression which has not improved with other treatments.
Homeopathic Treatment for Depression
Homoeopathy offers an excellent treatment for all stages of Depression, especially in the early stages. Homeopathy can take care of various symptoms of Depression. Extreme cases or the cases where the patients are on high doses of the conventional medicines for a long time (drug dependency).
Homeopathy can positively influence personality traits that are working at the base of disease. The important aspect is that depression is a disease in which genetic make-up is topped with environmental stress result in disease. Homeopathic medicines are very deep acting and having potential to counter genetic tendencies. Homeopathic medicines address the root cause of the disease and hence prevent the relapse and recurrence of the condition. Last but not the least; Homeopathic medicines are absolutely free from any side-effects as opposed to most of conventional medicines like anti-depressants and anxiolytics.
Homeopathy goes into the depths of depression, and the treatment is thus based on the underlying causes of it.
The results achieved using from Homeopathy can be augmented with supportive measures like counseling and psychotherapy.
Some Do’s & Don’ts of Depression
- Don’t bottle things up and ‘go it alone’. Try to tell people who are close to you how you feel. It is not weak to cry or admit that you are struggling.
- Don’t despair – most people with depression recover. It is important to remember this.
- Do try to distract yourself by doing other things. Try doing things that do not need much concentration but can be distracting, such as watching TV. Radio or TV is useful late at night if sleeping is a problem.
- Do eat regularly, even if you do not feel like eating. Try to eat a healthy diet.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol. Drinking alcohol is tempting to some people with depression, as the immediate effect may seem to relieve the symptoms. However, drinking heavily is likely to make your situation worse in the long run. Also, it is very difficult either to assess or to treat depression if you are drinking a lot of alcohol.
- Don’t make any major decisions whilst you are depressed. It may be tempting to give up a job or move away to solve the problem. If at all possible you should delay any major decisions about relationships, jobs, or money until you are well again.
- Do tell your doctor if you feel that you are getting worse, particularly if suicidal thoughts are troubling you.
- Sometimes a spell off work is needed. However, too long off work might not be so good, as dwelling on problems and brooding at home may make things worse. Getting back into the hurly-burly of normal life may help the healing process when things are improving. Each person is different and the ability to work will vary.
- Sometimes a specific psychological problem can cause depression but some people are reluctant to mention it. One example is sexual abuse as a child leading to depression or psychological difficulties as an adult. Tell your doctor if you feel something like this is the root cause of your depression. Counseling may be available for such problems.
Meet our experts today to know more about the Depression treatment and how you too can live a better and relaxed life with the Welling Homeopathy treatment for Depression.