DEPRESSION

I grew up with the mentality that whenever I’m asked, “how are you”, I should reply “I’m fine”. I think we all grew up with this mindset. Growing up, I realized that I needed to be honest with how I feel. With just being honest with your feelings, you permit yourself to search for the right ways to deal with your challenges, and also you can get the help you need. But then, you should be mindful of who you share your true feelings with. For me, I have got to know your mindset towards me before telling you about my life.

Depression is a constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest, which stops you from carrying out your normal activities. It can be more than a constant state of sadness or feeling “blue”. Depression is classified as a mood disorder. While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression is common. One in six women and one in eight men experience depression at some point in their life. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. Depression is a mental illness.

It’s important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone. But if you’re feeling down or hopeless regularly, you could be dealing with depression.

SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
A person may be depressed for more than two weeks. Most of the time, they might have felt sad, down or miserable or lost interest or pleasure in most of their usual activities, and have also experienced several of the signs and symptoms. And because depression symptoms are intangible, it’s hard to know who might look fine but is actually struggling. It’s important to note, everyone experiences some of these symptoms from time to time, and it may not necessarily mean a person is depressed. Equally, not every person who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.

A person with depression may feel: sad, miserable, unhappy, overwhelmed, frustrated, indecisive, unable to concentrate and recurrent thoughts of suicide.
A person with depression may have thoughts such as: “I’m a failure”, “I’m worthless”, “Nothing good ever happens to me”, “People would be better off without me”, “There’s nothing good in my life”.
A person with depression may: Withdraw from close friends and family, stop their usual enjoyable activities, Not getting things done at work/school, rely on alcohols and sedatives.
A person with depression may experience: Being tired all the time, feeling sick and ‘rundown’, Loss or change of appetite, frequent headaches, Stomach or muscle pains.

CAUSES OF DEPRESSION
While the exact cause of depression isn’t known, a number of things can be associated with its development. People experience depression in different ways. Generally, depression does not result from a single event, but from a combination of biological, psychological, social and lifestyle factors.

Personal factors that can lead to a risk of depression include:
Family history: Depression can run in families and some people will be at an increased genetic risk. However, this does not mean that a person will automatically experience depression if a parent or close relative has had the condition.
Personality: Some people may be more at risk because of their personality, particularly if they tend to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are introverts, are sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical or negative.
Serious Medical Condition: It can bring about depression directly or can contribute to depression through associated stress and worry, especially if it involves long-term management of a condition or chronic pain.
Drug and alcohol use: can both lead to and result from depression. Many people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems.
Childhood trauma
Poverty

Sexual or Psychological Abuse

Life events: Research suggests that continuing difficulties, such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive relationship, long-term isolation or loneliness or prolonged exposure to stress at work can increase the risk of depression. Significant adverse life events, such as losing a job, going through a divorce, may also trigger depression, particularly among people who are already at risk because of genetic, developmental or other personal factors.
Changes in the brain: Although there has been a lot of research in this complex area, there is still much that we do not know. However, disturbances in normal chemical messaging processes between nerve cells in the brain are believed to contribute to depression. Most modern antidepressants have an effect on the brain’s chemical transmitters, particularly serotonin and noradrenaline, which relay messages between cells.

TYPES OF DEPRESSION: There are different types of depression. The symptoms for each can range from relatively minor to severe.

MAJOR DEPRESSION: Major Depression or major depressive disorder is the technical term used by health professionals and researchers to describe the most common type of depression. This depression can be described as mild, moderate or severe.

•MELANCHOLIA: Melancholia is an older term for depression and is still sometimes used to describe a more severe form of depression with a strong biological basis, where many of the physical symptoms of depression are particularly evident. A person with melancholia is also more likely to have a depressed mood that is characterized by complete loss of pleasure in everything or almost everything.

•DYSTHYMIA: The symptoms of dysthymia(sometimes called Persistent Depressive Disorder) are similar to those of major depression, but are less severe and more persistent. A person has to have this milder depression for more than two years to be diagnosed with dysthymia.

•PSYCHOTIC DEPRESSION: Sometimes, people with this depressive condition can lose touch with reality. This can involve hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) or delusions (false beliefs that are not shared by others), such as believing they are bad or evil, or that they are being watched or followed or that everyone is against them.

•ANTENATAL AND POSTNATAL DEPRESSION: Women are at an increased risk of depression during pregnancy (known as the antenatal or prenatal period) and in the year following childbirth (known as the post-natal period). This time frame (the period covered by pregnancy and the first year after the baby’s birth) may also be referred to as the perinatal period. The causes of depression at this time can be complex and are often the result of a combination of factors. In the days immediately following birth, many women experience the ‘baby blues’, which is a common condition related to hormonal changes, affecting up to 80 percent of women who have given birth. The ‘baby blues’, or the general stress of adjusting to pregnancy or a new baby, are common experiences, but are different from depression. Depression is no longer lasting and can affect not only the mother, but their relationship with her baby, the child’s development, the mother’s relationship with a partner and with other members of the family. Up to one in ten women will experience depression during pregnancy. This increases to 16 percent in the first three months after having a baby.

•BIPOLAR DISORDER: Bipolar Disorder formerly known as ‘manic depression’ because the person experiences periods of depression and periods of mania with periods of normal mood in between. A family history of bipolar disorder can increase a person’s risk of experiencing bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder can also sometimes be confused with other mental health conditions such as schizophrenia. It is important to check for this condition whenever a person is being assessed for depression.

•CYCLOTHYMIC DISORDER: Cyclothymic disorder is an uncommon condition which is often described as a milder form of bipolar disorder. The person experiences chronic fluctuating moods over at least two years, involving periods of the hypomania (a mild to moderate level of mania) and periods of depressive symptoms, with very short periods (not more than two months) of normality between.

•SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD): SAD is a mood disorder that has a seasonal pattern. The cause is unclear, but may be related to the variation in light exposure in different season. SAD is characterized by mood disturbances (other periods of depression or mania) that begin and end in a particular season. Depression in winter only is the most common way in which people experience SAD. SAD is usually diagnosed after the person has had the same symptoms during winter for two or more years. SAD is rare in Australia, and more likely to be found in countries with short days and longer periods of darkness, such as cold climate in the Northern Hemisphere.

•PRE-MENSTRUAL DYSPHORIC DISORDER (PMDD): Women with PMDD have depression and other symptoms at the start of their period. Besides feeling depressed, you may also experience: mood swings, irritability, anxiety, trouble concentrating, fatigue, change in appetite or sleep habits, headache and feelings of being overwhelmed.

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION:
•Depression affects how people think, feel and act.
•Depression makes it more difficult to manage day-to-day activities and interferes with studies and even one’s career too, resulting in lost time and lower productivity.
•It can also influence relationship and some chronic health conditions.
•It can trigger suicidal thoughts, and eventually death.
•The negative stereotype of disgrace or discredit towards individuals experiencing mental illness sets them apart from others. Not only does it hurt the feelings of individuals experiencing depression, but it causes them to feel like they are not good enough. This needs to stop!

SOLUTIONS TO DEPRESSION:
The good news is, depression is treatable and effective treatments are available. The sooner a person with depression seeks support, they sooner they can recover.

•PRAY: Prayer changes every single thing! Tell God your worries, your challenge or issue. Remember, what God cannot do does not exist. Ask God to grant you the Holy Spirit because it is the Holy Spirit that fills the mind with every positive and good thoughts. It is the Holy Spirit that will direct and guide you to make the good and right decision in every situation. Get closer to God because he makes the impossible possible.

MEDICATIONS and THERAPY complement each other to boost brain chemicals.
Antidepressant medications: Serotonin intake or SSRI is an example of a drug that increases the amount of serotonin in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter associated with happiness.
Other promising treatments, like transcranial magnetic stimulation, are being investigated, too.
In extreme cases, electroconvulsive therapy, which is like a controlled seizure in the patient’s brain, is very helpful.
Also, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Interpersonal Psychotherapy. They help individuals focus on the present and encourage the regaining of control over mood and functioning.

•Unfortunately, in this time and age, there is still stigmatization associated with depression. However, both education and public awareness are the keys to ending the stigma that occurs in the society.

•If you know someone who struggles with depression, encourage them, gently, to seek out for help. Mental Awareness Nigeria can be of help @mentallyawareng on Instagram and Twitter. You might help in specific task like, to find a therapist in the area or making a list of questions to ask a doctor. If they feel ashamed, make them understand that depression is a medical condition such as asthma or diabetes. It’s not a weakness or personality trait, and they should not expect themselves to just get over it, any more than they could themselves, get over a broken arm.

•The best solution is to have support from loved ones to help alleviate symptoms. If you are suffering from depression, please seek help. Talk to someone. Talking about depression openly can help. For example, research shows that asking someone about suicidal thoughts actually reduced their suicidal risk. Open conversations about mental illness help erode stigma and make it easier to ask for help. Be kind; whether you know what someone is passing through or not. Help to encourage people. Never look down on anyone, even when you are helping them up. Everybody has a chapter they don’t read out loud, including you.

•Exercise: When you physically move, your physiology changes and that changes your brain. Get outside and exercise every single day as if your life depends upon it because you know it does. Your brain needs it, your body needs it, your mental health needs.
•Meditate
•Practice Yoga
•Go on Vacations/Trips/Picnics: Visit new places and connect with new people.
Take a stroll alone or maybe with your pet or loved ones.
•Rest: If you don’t rest, your body will do the resting.

•Read, read all you can read to get your mind in a positive place.
Take steps to ensure, you will be in a better position next time. Take little steps, and soon you will be at the top of the staircase. Commit to working on yourself and getting better, one day at a time. Depression is different for everyone, but it can be TREATED.
Don’t give up. You are worthy. You deserve to experience how great life can be, and you owe it to yourself to be that positive change for others, to inspire others who will look up to you and say she did it, he did it and I can do it too.

With depression, one of the most important things you can realize is that you are not alone! Depression is real! Life is challenging. There are ups and downs, and these challenges that you face, might want to bring you to your knees. Do not let them take you down! Line up those problems and confront them. Face them, fight them. Life is for the living. There’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

I want you to know that no matter where you are in life, no matter how low you have sunk, no matter how bleak your situation is, this is not the end. This is not the end of your story, this is not the final chapter of your life. I know it may be hard right now but if you just hang in there, stick it out, stay with me for a little while. You will find that this tough moment will pass and if you are committed to using this challenge, using it to build your character, finding a greater meaning for the challenge, you will find that in time you can turn your life around and help others going through the same struggles.

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