Depression is not a new word in these times. It is one of the commonest mental illnesses in the world today. Oftentimes, it is a term used to describe the feeling of sadness in general because of the occurrences such as losing a job, not getting the desired score in an exam or ending of a relationship, etc. However, this cannot be precisely called depression because these feelings may go away in a day or two. In some cases, the feeling of sorrow persists for a longer duration which can affect the routine activities of a sick individual. Pragmatically, that is what is called depression.
According to DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder 5th edition), there are several symptoms that are specific to this illness,
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- A feeling of hopelessness and sadness
- Sleep changes
- Appetite and weight changes
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- A feeling of guilt / low self-esteem
- Difficulty in concentration and indecisiveness
- Unexplained aches
- Suicidal thoughts
Depressive episodes can be classified into mild, moderate, and major depression on the basis of severity and variety of prevailing symptoms.
MILD DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
This form of depression ofttimes goes unnoticed as people are unmindful of this phenomenon in comparison to the other two disorders. Though this type of depression is not as grave as the others, if left untreated this can lead to severe depression. Henceforth, people must perceive what exactly happens when a person has mild depression and how to cope with it. Symptoms of mild depression include reduced concentration, low energy, loss of interest in any activity, the feeling of worthlessness and sadness, etc. They are in low potency and transpire for a shorter duration of time.
Dysthymic disorder can be incorporated into this category. Mild level depression which lasts for at least 2 years can be called dysthymia. Isolated episodes of major depression may come off. It is a chronic state of depression and occasionally patients tend to assume pessimism as a part of their personality. For treatment, supportive therapy like exercising, following a schedule, healthy eating, meditation, and yoga can benefit a lot.
MODERATE DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
Here, the indications are more intense so that person tends to recognize them, making it easier to diagnose. The individual here shows signs of mild depression as well as other manifestations like low self-esteem; appetite, weight and sleep pattern changes; excessive worrying; etc. As the symptoms are more severe they also impact a person’s routine social and professional life. Dysthymia and adjustment disorder can be incorporated into this group. Psychotherapies such as cognitive behavior therapy or interpersonal therapy, lifestyle changes, meditation are a few modes of treatment to help the patient.
MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
It is a kind of depression where a person has all symptoms of mild to moderate depression which are intense and perceptible not only by a sick being but even by his/her acquaintance too. In addition to all the symptoms of mild to moderate depression delusions, hallucinations, suicide thoughts are few major warning signs of this type. It calls for immediate medical attention if one is exhibiting any of them. The outbreaks can last around six months or can persist longer than that. It is essential to efface and nurse it in an early stage as it may result in slow recovery if neglected. Treatment includes the use of SSRIs, cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, and lifestyle modifications.
Few other types of depression include,
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION (PPD)
Baby blue is not a new word, but when the magnitude of it intensifies, it can be named PPD. It is a profound, disabling depression encountered by new mums that typically sets in within the first three months of motherhood. If any female is going through this illness, it doesn’t make her any less of a good mother. It is just a complication anyone can have in response to pregnancy. Symptoms are the same as in any other depression. Additionally, it may interfere with the bonding of mum and baby, disabling mum to take care of a baby. Surprisingly, new fathers can also experience it. family support, counseling therapy, and medical therapy can help to overcome it.
PREMENSTRUAL DYSPHORIC DISORDER (PMDD)
This is nearly similar to Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) but here the symptoms are more overwhelming. PMS is very widespread, like 3/4 of menstruating women endures this phase but PMDD is few and far between. Other than common symptoms, here the lady can have crying spells, mood swings, forgetfulness, palpitation, and anxiety. It can impede the daily regular life of a person. This phenomenon can be attributed to hormonal changes that alter the level of serotonin. Few lifestyle alterations, workouts, hormonal therapy can help in confounding this sort of sickness.
SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD)
Typically known as winter depression; it is a kind of disorder that most often makes an appearance in the winter months of the year and fades away in spring. It can be contributed to the less sunlight exposure in this season but the evidence is not strong enough. it is more prevalent in young females. Light therapy can help in such cases along with other traditional methods.
SUBSTANCE/MEDICINE INDUCED DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
Certain illicit substances, as well as iatrogenic medication, can precipitate symptoms of depression in some individuals who fall under this division. This can be a reaction of either intoxication or withdrawal of substance/medication. Alcohol abuse, opioid, cocaine, and other such elements seem to be frequently related to this kind of depression. Similarly, corticosteroids, antiepileptic and sedative drugs have been detected to cause depression in some cases. Ingestion of such substances alters the level of serotonin and dopamine which can be one of the underlying causes. Cessation of their intake should follow in the recovery of the patient. In severe cases, supportive care must be given in the form of counseling psychotherapy, and medicinal support if needed.
There are numerous depressive disorders we can glimpse in our day to day life but the fundamental element is to diagnose them and treat them as early as possible. In treatment family, support and counseling have been proven most effective.