Depression on the Rise
An article published in the journal for Psychiatric Services indicates that depression is not only on the rise but also is the “No.1 psychological disorder in the western world.” The situation elsewhere is just as gloomy. A World Health Organization report indicates that “one in four persons encounters mental health problems at least once in their life time”. Although it is a serious medical illness that alters your life radically, the good news is that depression can be treated to effect a complete cure.
Depression can affect anybody- old or young- and it can be crippling. It causes mental upheavals and is marked by a deep sadness. So much so, that the person loses the ability to function and ceases to evince any interest in the activities that were once enjoyed.
It's sad to see that depression especially affects teens and young adults- though it can strike at any time. Women appear to be more susceptible to depression and studies have corroborated this fact. There is often a delay in getting professional help- lack of awareness or a reluctance to see a psychiatrist are the most obvious reasons.
When depression is not treated at the right time, it has disastrous consequences. Not only does it prevent people from living their lives in an orderly manner but it puts a stop on all social activities. Not being able to perform at their workplace only exacerbates this state and sometimes people are pushed to the wall and take the extreme step of committing suicide.
The death of a close family member or friend, losing one's job, a major financial disaster or being physically assaulted can all trigger depression. It's important for parents, teachers and physicians to be able to recognize depression early so that it can be treated immediately.
Dr. Madhu Bindu, psychiatrist, notes that for people over 65, financial issues or loss of life partner can cause depression. The WHO report reveals that the incidence of depression has increased by 18 percent in the last decade and about 3-5 percent of the population suffers either from depression, social phobia or anxiety disorders. This is a disturbing trend- one which needs to addressed without delay.
So what causes depression?
- Genetics may play a role- depression may run in families
- The absence, presence or insufficient amounts of certain chemicals in the brain also contribute to depression
- Pessimistic persons with low self- esteem are vulnerable to depression
- Exposure to abject poverty, neglect or sustained abuse are chief causes of depression
How is depression treated?
Thankfully, depression is very much treatable and normally most people respond to treatment. After ascertaining that depression is not an offshoot of an existing medical condition, treatment can begin.
- Altering the brain chemistry by using anti-depressants is the first line of treatment. These medications are neither addictive nor stimulating. They soothe the mind and bring about a certain calmness in the person's demeanor. It takes a while for the benefits of anti-depressants to be visible- say two to three months. With careful alteration of the dosage and the possible addition of psychotropic medications, depression can be controlled an ultimately cured. In certain cases, long-term maintenance may be required to prevent further episodes.
- Psychotherapy or 'talk therapy' sessions is used to treat mild depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps alter thinking and behavior patterns.
- Regular exercise, good sleep, a healthy diet, abstaining from alcohol and support from family and friends can do wonders for depression.
Remember, depression is treatable- so don't delay medication. For psychiatry help contact Psychiatry Concierge.