How to Beat Depression
A general looming sadness and weakened emotion state without the want or drive to complete tasks that are generally found to be simple. These are the symptoms of depression and effect nearly 8% of the world’s population on a consistent basis, meaning at above the age 12 any two-week span may involve a depressive episode. This fact makes depression the most common illness in the world, with reports of the WHO (World Health Organization) who back this fact up with data of depression effecting over 350 million people all around the world in all walks of life.
The difference between depression as a psychiatric disorder and a general feeling of sadness that may come in go throughout difficulties in life is the constant and persistent nature of an actual depression. Whereas one may go through a few days or weeks of sadness, depending on what has occurred, a depressed person’s average length in their state is anywhere from 6 to 8 months with a severity that generally outweighs a “normal” state of sadness. A “normal” state generally occurs from grief over the death of a relative or close loved one, disappointments in a lost relationship, financial instability, or even that of a serious illness. All these can indeed bring on depression, but the sadness and difficulties from them do not necessarily mean one is clinically depressed. If overcoming these obstacles brings back good spirits, then it generally would not be considered a depression.
Many kinds of depressions exist. Some experience sudden swings between high and low moods in a short period of time with a small frame of normal emotions in between. This disorder is known as bipolar depressive disorder or manic depression or manic-depressive illness. It is named for its characteristic of the high moods, also known as manic where the patient may find themselves overly happy and confident for no real reason at all. Whereas a “unipolar” depressed person will generally just have the feeling of depression and sometimes fluctuate back to their normal states. However, about 40% of the time the manic-depressive will still feel depressed making that period of mania a very important distinction in proper diagnosis. General depressive disorder occurs at a rate about 3.5 times more often than bipolar disorders.
There are other forms that exist as well. Psychotic depression gives itself the distinction of causing delusional behavior in the patients, well beyond the mania described above. Those suffering from this disorder may experience detachments from reality, hallucinations, and the sense of things or beings that are completely non-existent. This can be quite dangerous and the quicker a diagnosis comes the better in a scenario such as this. Postpartum depression, also known as postnatal depression, is a depressive period that comes along after the delivery of a baby. Though it is normal to experience a period of “baby blues” after such an event, postpartum has increased severity and length comparatively. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, distinguishes itself from general depression in that environmental factors are the main cause. As winter approaches, daylight hours dwindle, and the patient begins to slump into depression which continues until the seasonal change where the light begins to increase. Obviously, countries with longer and harsher winters experience much higher provenances of this disorder.
The causes of depression are not fully understood. Many factors can be at play and a complex mixture of them make things even more complicated in getting to the bottom of. Genetics are a big factor, with a high prevalence of depression being passed down from generation to generation especially when they are only one or two generations removed. There are biological factors at play too, with illnesses and hormonal disorders playing a major role in the dwindling mood of a depressed person. Environment matters as well, such as the cases of the SAD patients but also those dealing with financial or interpersonal relationship stressors.
Certain risk factors are at play to where depression can occur even in those without the previous listed causes, but can be especially severe and complex if mixed together. Trying life events can indeed trigger a depression, divorce, long periods of unemployment, and financial disasters can easily trigger a depressive state. Childhood trauma as well can lead to long-term brain disorders that affect how one copes with stress and fear, and other traumatic events such as brain injuries or physical or substance abuse can lead to long-term intense depressions. Chronic disease as well, such as cancer or diabetes has an increased likelihood of causing a depression.
Treatments can vary with no two patients being exactly the same, it can be quite complicated just to diagnose the type of depression much less actually begin treating it. Ideally the sooner one starts their treatment, the more effective it will be. A combination of psychotherapy, such as “talk” therapy, and anti-depressive medications are the standard recommendations. Experimentation with which drugs to use and the dosages will occur until a certain combination is found to be effective with negligible side-effects involved. The downside to this type of treatment is that if a mistake is made in the dosage a vastly increased depression can occur causing suicidal thoughts where there may have been none before. Withdrawals can also occur as the brain becomes dependent on the drugs that can be very dangerous or even deadly in certain cases if stopped abruptly.
There are other, natural, alternatives available such as that of St. John’s wort which has been shown to help treat patients for hundreds to thousands of years out of depression. However, it can be dangerous if used in conjunction with other anti-depressants. Cannabis is another natural alternative which has been shown to be very promising in patients with a variety of depressive issues. In fact, there are many medical Cannabis patients who used the plant solely for their depressive issues. The THC (the main active ingredient in Cannabis) stimulates the brain and increases neuro-genesis in similar ways to a standard anti-depressant but with negligible side-effects and without the dangerous withdrawals.