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Depression is a medical illness, like heart, or lung disease. It is not the same as feeling low, which is normally a temporary mood condition. On average it takes 10 years for a person with depression to seek help. Understand depression better and don’t delay seeking medical help.
Depression is a medical disorder that can seriously interfere with all aspects of a person’s life, even leading to suicide. Sometimes it doesn’t go away on its own and requires psychological and/or medical treatment.
There are many symptoms to indicate that a person has depression:
- Low mood
- Loss of interest in things you normally enjoy
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling worthless or excessively guilty
- Sleeping to much to too little
- Poor concentration
- Restlessness or slowness
- Loss of energy
- Recurrent thoughts of suicide
Any combination of 5 of these symptoms indicates the likely presence of depression.
Besides these behavioural symptoms there are physical effects to the frontal lobes, the hippocampus, depletion of neural transmitters such as serotonin and others, the sleep cycle is disrupted and hormone abnormality occurs.
There is no complete explanation as to what causes depression, but is likely a complex interaction between genes and environment. Nor are there any diagnostic tools to show where or when it might occur, or to whom.
It may take years for someone to ask for help. If you recognise someone who shows the symptoms above you need to encourage them to seek help, but better still to help that person to talk to you about it. You must say that depression is a medical disorder as is diabetes, or asthma. It is nothing to be ashamed about, though there is a deeply entrenched belief that to “come out” with depression will embarrass those you tell and could affect your employment prospects adversely.
Do not compare to a low period that you experienced, as that will cause them guilt for not getting over it as you did.
If they talk about suicide, engage in conversation as this reduces the risk of it happening.
Offering help erodes the feeling of stigma. The more people who are treated, the more that will be learnt about depression and the treatments improved.
Though the cause of depression is not fully understood, various treatments are available. These include talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Electro Convulsive Therapy, medication, or combinations of treatments.
Remember depression is not a mental weakness, but a medical disorder. Talk to your family and close friends and seek professional help.
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