The word depression strongly entered the use of the modern man; depressed mood, feeling of emptiness, lack of interest in life, crying, obsessive thoughts of negative content, feeling of worthlessness and isolation – these are the main symptoms of this condition.
Depression may be a response to external traumatic events, such as death of a loved one, separation, rejection or change in life situation: moving to another city or country, retirement, divorce, birth of a child, etc.
In medicine, depression is not just a state or mood, but a psychophysiological disorder that may require to be treated medically and psychotherapeutically. On this basis, common understandings of depression can be quite not useful, as they are linked to prejudices that can impeach the proper understanding of what is happening to the patient.
On the other hand, it is not healthy to call depression a simple bad mood or a negative reaction to a life difficulty, as this can be an exaggeration and worsening of a life problem and not a clinical one. The term itself contains a negative message that can intensify the negative thoughts and emotions.
Why is depression dangerous and why it is important to detect it in time and seek professional help?
- Firstly, depression is dangerous, because it can develop and progress. In this case, the state of the patient can get worse. It can begin as bad mood and lead to physical and mental exhaustion and end with death.
- Secondly, depression can cause negative thoughts and intentions, inclusively suicidal ones. These may be quite persistent and trigger suicidal attempts.
- Thirdly, depression can be a symptom of a dangerous physical disease that requires treatment at the right moment.
How to distinguish depression from a bad reaction to common problems?
In medicine, three main symptoms of depression are distinguished. The first sign is bad mood without any particular reason during a long period of time. This may be the constant feeling of misery, sorrow, discontent, irritation and anxiety. Emotional signs of depression are also the variability of humor and its sudden swings. The second symptom is motor retardation. It can manifest through slow motions, lethargy, weakness, constant fatigue. The third component is the retardation of mental processes under the form of delayed and similar thoughts and memories.
Other symptoms may be lack of interest and motivation, loss of the ability to feel pleasure and happiness, horrid perception of the future. The physical symptoms can be insomnia, constipation, brittle nails, increased hair loss, lack of appetite violation of the menstrual cycle in women.
It can be supposed that a man has depression if he presents some of these symptoms inclusively the main ones, but it can be diagnosed for certain only by a psychiatrist or a medical psychotherapist. The expert will further prescribe the treatment that can be of medical nature and also include therapy or psychological counseling depending on the type, degree and cause of depression.
Unfortunately, in our culture there are many prejudices regarding psychiatric and psychotherapeutic help. Despite that seeking the help of a psychiatrist or psychotherapist is as normal as seeking the help of any other expert. It is important to understand that nowadays, depression is not threatening, but treatable. The paradox is that depression can serve as a reason to take care of yourself and improve your life.
- Depression Booklet – National Institute of Mental Health
- DEPRESSION – A Global Public Health Concern