Depression is no longer stigmatized as society is realizing that it is an illness like any other, needing treatment. It is not a character flaw or a mood someone can just ‘snap out of’. And it is not just a state of ‘feeling sad’ or a temporary reaction to an event. When someone is clinically depressed or suffering from depressive disorder, the depression interferes with their daily life and normal functioning.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides the following guidelines to assess whether you are depressed. If you have been experiencing any of the following symptoms for 2 weeks or more, you could be depressed:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms
Some people have more symptoms than others and the severity will vary from person to person.
Major depression: Here, symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your ability to sleep, eat, work, study, and enjoy life. You can have just one episode of major depression in your entire lifetime, but is more usual for a person to experience several episodes.
Persistent depressive disorder (also called chronic depression or dysthmymia): This is a depressed mood that lasts for 2 years or more. A person might have episodes of major depression interspersed by periods with less severe symptoms, but to be diagnosed the symptoms overall must last for 2 years.
Psychotic depression is a case of severe depression plus some form of psychosis, for example, delusions or hallucinations (visual or auditory).
Postpartum depression is more serious than the common ‘baby blues’ many women experience after the birth due to hormones, physical changes and new responsibilities. Symptoms of postpartum depression can include feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness and a loss of interest in the baby or have thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby or in rare, severe cases, and hallucinations or an urge to harm the baby.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression triggered during winter, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression usually disappears in spring and summer.
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders and research suggests it is caused by a combination of biological, genetic, psychological and environmental factors.
It often begins in adulthood, although it could happen at any age.
Depression is treatable, you don’t need to live with it. Make an appointment with Dr Hany Shafey at Novomed Centers in Dubai to discuss all your options for treating depression.