Dealing with depression


Dr Maxwell Adeyemi

Quite often people die by suicide and those around them lament that they didn’t know they had had any problem, didn’t notice any sign of depression and wondered why the person took his or her life. Depression is real and can creep into a person’s life and wreak havoc without any visible symptoms.

If left untreated, depression can undermine a person’s relationships, disrupt workflow and make maintaining sound health very difficult, if not impossible. It can also lead to suicide.

Depression, also called a major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a common mental health disorder that affects over 280 million people globally. It is characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, inability to feel pleasures and reduced energy levels for no clear reason. At some point in our lives, we have been sad and overwhelmed. But when someone is depressed they can experience this feeling of sadness persistently for a long time.

Causes of depression may include:

* Biological factors like genetics, chemical imbalance, and hormonal changes.

* Psychological factors like negative thinking patterns, personality type, and traumatic childhood experiences.

* Social factors like adverse life events and financial difficulties.

There are vulnerability factors that can further increase the risk of developing depression, especially in women. They include early maternal loss, lack of confiding relationships, unemployment and having more than three children who are under the age of 14.

Dr Maxwell Adeyemi -

It is crucial to be able to identify the symptoms of depression, not just for ourselves but for the people around us as well. This is because people can act normally yet be fighting a losing battle against depression.

Symptoms of depression may include:

* Constant fatigue: Feeling tired, exhausted, and drained of energy can be a pointer to depression. Studies have shown that 90 per cent of people with depression experience fatigue.

* Poor concentration: Losing your train of thoughts frequently during conversations is an indication that you are struggling with your memory, and that might be related to a depressive illness.

* Increased appetite: Unlike the typical poor appetite experienced in depression, increased appetite, referred to as “emotional eating” is also a symptom of depression. People with depression sometimes eat to satisfy emotional and not physical hunger.

* Behavioural symptoms: When someone who is the life of the party suddenly becomes withdrawn, angry, or irritable, depression may be the cause. Research shows that men are more likely to experience anger or irritability than women.

* Physical symptoms: People with depression sometimes complain of physical symptoms like headaches, backaches, body pains, joint pains, etc.

Depression has many faces. It is possible to be depressed and still get up from bed, have a shower, put on make-up, do daily tasks, take care of the family and do a host of other things. This can be referred to as a high-functioning depression. High-functioning individuals with depression tend to forge ahead in an effort to succeed with their goals. This further hinders them from seeking help early and might worsen their symptoms.

Other symptoms that are usually common in depression include:

* Low mood

* Tearfulness/excessive crying

* Feeling hopeless

* Feeling worthless

* Suicidal thoughts

* Loss of interest

* Lack of motivation

* Poor sleeping habits

* Constant negative self-talk

One of the major reasons people with depression find it difficult to confide in other people is because they feel they will become a burden to others. They don’t want to “disturb” others with their problems and thus try to manage them by themselves. Also, stigma is one of the leading risk factors contributing to poor mental health outcomes. This ultimately leads to delay in treatment and reduces the chances that the affected person will receive appropriate and adequate care.

Treating depression

Depression is treatable, especially if spotted on time. Treatments include therapies, medications, and lifestyle modifications such as:

* Counselling: Speaking to a mental health professional goes a long way in your healing journey. Your counsellor helps you identify and address your problems, and goes ahead to suggest coping mechanisms to you.

* Self-help: Examples of self-help exercises include getting enough sleep, engaging in physical exercises, taking a walk, etc.

* Trying something new: Go out and explore. If you can, visit a new city and relish nature’s offers. Try new activities such as taking swimming classes, reading a new book, etc.

* Spending time with loved ones: While depression may want you to do the opposite, deliberately choosing to spend time with loved ones will help you greatly. Create time to be among those who truly love and care for you.

* Cognitive restructuring: This is a therapeutic process that helps to identify and challenge automatic negative thoughts. Replace them with alternative thoughts. Cognitive restructuring has proven to be very effective in treating depression if done in a structured manner with the help of a therapist.

* Mindful journalling: Keep a daily journal. It allows you to express yourself in the best possible way that will bring you relief. You can get a diary or journal, put words to your emotions in this journal and take mindful walks. Mindful journalling helps you to be conscious of how you feel.

* Seek medical and professional help: It is critical to seek early medical, mental health therapy, Mental health officers, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists are professionals that can assist in managing this condition.

Treatment options are based on the severity of the depression. Some lifestyle changes that have been proven to help with depression include adequate water intake, eating a balanced diet, maintaining social connections, networking, psychotherapy and medications. Depression is not something you can easily snap out of. People who do not understand what depression means see it as deliberately choosing to wallow in deep sadness. But depression goes beyond that and not something people can easily snap out of. People experience depression in different ways. While some may find it difficult to get out of bed, others may still find it easy to do their day-to-day work. The latter should not be taken less seriously when they manifest symptoms of depression.

Contact Dr Maxwell at 363-1807 or 757-5411.


"Dealing with depression"

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