What is Depression?
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed but is more than “feeling sad or being upset”. It can lead to a variety of emotional/behavioural and physical symptoms and may impact your ability to function at work and at home.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe, and common symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Sudden changes in sleep and/or appetite
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, hand wringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
What Causes Depression?
Depression does not have a single cause. It can be triggered by a life crisis, physical illness, or something else—but it can also occur spontaneously.
A number of factors can contribute to depression; here are just a few:
- Trauma – When people experience trauma at an early age, it can cause long-term changes in how their brains respond to fear and stress. These changes may lead to depression.
- Genetics – Mood disorders, such as depression, tend to run in families.
- Life circumstances – Marital status, relationship changes, financial standing, and where a person lives influence whether a person develops depression.
- Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumor, or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.
Symptoms must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression.
Depression is among the most treatable of mental health conditions. Between 80% and 90% percent of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment.
Before a diagnosis or treatment, a health professional should conduct a thorough diagnostic evaluation, including an interview and a physical examination. In some cases, a blood test might be done to make sure the depression is not due to a medical condition like a thyroid problem or a vitamin deficiency (reversing the medical cause would alleviate the depression-like symptoms). The evaluation will identify specific symptoms and explore medical and family histories as well as cultural and environmental factors with the goal of arriving at a diagnosis and planning a course of action.
If diagnosed with depression, the key is to get a specific evaluation and treatment plan. These are a few treatment plans that one might undergo:
- Psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy and interpersonal therapy.
- Medications including antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications.
- Self Help, Self care and Coping: Few things like taking care of your health, taking an adequate diet, getting adequate rest, and indulging in exercise, workout, yoga, etc can help and support your recovery. It can also help in managing mild to moderate symptoms.
Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can occur at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. There is a high degree of heritability (approximately 40%) when first-degree relatives (parents/children/siblings) have depression.
The NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) can provide information on how to find various mental health professionals and resources in your area.
Remember that you are not alone. For more resources and to learn more about depression, Please Click Here.
What is Anxiety?
Feeling anxious is the tenseness of edginess about something vague and/or general. This feeling is usually manageable and does not get in the way of one’s everyday functions, including work and social life. This emotion is normal, one that everyone experiences.
What is Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety Disorder is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry, accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Disturbed sleep
- Difficulty in concentration.
Anxiety disorder is hard to manage and often causes impairments to your everyday life, such as social, work, or academic life. This excessive worry, furthermore, is very difficult to control.
Anxiety vs. Anxiety Disorder
Feeling Anxious or Experiencing Anxiety
This is a manageable feeling that causes a person to feel uneasy for a vague reason. This feeling is usually manageable and does not cause impairments to their everyday life.
This disorder is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable worry that affects a person’s life negatively. Subject stress of the person feels excessive due to worrying.
In order to be diagnosed with anxiety disorder, the symptoms listed above has to have occurred for the majority of days for 6 months, according to the DSM-V.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health involves effective functioning, which leads to a healthier lifestyle involving productivity in work, academia, and social life, as well as ability to adapt and change in times of crisis.
Mental health is a framework for different mental attributes, such as emotions, learning, self-esteem and resilience. It is also one of many keys to healthy personal and social relationships and emotional well-being.
What is mental illness or a mental health condition?
Mental illness is a type of a health condition that impacts emotions, thoughts, and/or behavior. Mental health conditions can impact one or combination of any of the three factors listed above, and are involved with feelings of distress and difficulty in social, work, or family life functioning.
Mental illness is common and treatable.
Difference between Mental Illness and Mental Health.
Mental health: collective state of our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Mental health, like physical health, affects how we feel and act. Mental health is something we can take care of, like physical health.
Mental illness: Mental illness is a condition that directly impacts our mental health that leads to dysfunction in our daily lives.
In short, mental health is our state of mental well-being, just like our physical health. Mental illness is a condition that impacts mental health, similar to how physical ailments impact our physical health.
How to Take Care of Your Mental Health
Just like your physical health, mental health also needs to be cared for. Here are some ways to take care of your mental health:
- Talk about your feelings
- Exercise regularly/ keep active
- Eat well, cultivate a healthy relationship with food
- Be comfortable reaching out for help
- Take breaks, take time to unwind
- Do something you are good at
Red Flags: Signs to Look Out for
The following are red flags to help you gauge your mental health. This list should not be used for diagnosis:
- Excessive worry
- Frequent outbursts of anger
- Excessive fear/ anxiety that you can’t control
- Changes in academic/ work performance
- Suicidal thoughts
- Excessive substance use
- Persistent nightmares
- Dramatic changes in sleeping patterns
What is Emotional Wellbeing?
Emotional well-being, or emotional wellness, is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to different crises in life. Emotional wellness further impacts your ability to carry out daily tasks, relationships, and even your overall mental health. People with high emotional wellness have the ability to navigate their moods effectively and respond to stressful life events with less reactivity. They also reported living with a sense of meaning and purpose.
Factors that Influence Our Emotional Wellbeing:
Multiple factors impact our emotional wellness, most involving how we view and interpret the world. For instance, keeping a positive mindset can aid in experiencing fewer negative emotions and in “bouncing back” from a stressful event. Taking care of our internal balance, as well as appreciating differences, can also contribute to our emotional well-being. We cover more ways to take care of our emotional health below.
Ways to Take Care of Our Mental Wellbeing
There are several strategies to take care of our emotional health:
- Brightening your outlook
- Reducing stress in work/social life
- Sleeping regular hours, getting quality sleep
- Being present in your life, being mindful
- Strengthening social connections
- Strengthen internal balance- organize your life
- Respect the unknown, and keep an open, flexible mind
- Anxiety affects 284 million people.
- Depression affects 264 million people.
- Alcohol use disorder affects 107 million people.
- Drug use disorder affects 71 million people.
- Bipolar disorder affects 46 million people.
- Schizophrenia affects 20 million people.
- Eating disorders affect 16 million people.
(Our World in Data, 2018)