Depression – you can’t just “get over it”

Depression is not an affliction that just comes and goes, and contrary to the beliefs of some, you can’t just “get over it”. It can be persistent and all-encompassing leading to feelings of sadness, guilt, despair, hopelessness, a sense of failure. The effects of depression can lead to sleep disturbances, changes in weight (loss or gain), lack of concentration, isolation, problems with relationships, or health issues such as high blood pressure or heart attacks.

Depression can be brought on by medications, trauma such as accidents or abuse, stress encountered within your career, relationships, friendships, schooling, or through grief and loss. For many sufferers of depression, it can be a recurring, chronic and debilitating disorder resulting in a loss of motivation, aimlessness and a disinterest in life. Often deep depression will lead to thoughts of self-harm or of taking your own life through suicide.

20 Random Facts:

  1. In Greek medicine depression was attributed to an irregularity of the body’s four humours (temperaments) or metabolic agents of the four elements in the human body (earth, air, fire and water). These four humours consist of: sanguine (air – optimistic, enthusiastic or leader-like), choleric(fire – passionate, bad-tempered or irritable), melancholic (earth – analytical, withdrawn or pessimistic), and phlegmatic (water – relaxed, lethargic or sensitive) and are seen to have a psychological effect on the mind, thoughts, and emotions. There are also mixtures of the types, and the right balance and purity is essential in maintaining a healthy system.1
  2. The median age for the onset of chronic depression is 20 to 30 years though there are different implications with each age group.2
  3. A loss of interest or pleasure in most things, known as anhedonia, is common in depressed adults and teenagers.2
  4. Issues with low self-esteem and self-worth are common symptoms of depression, along with feelings of incompetence and worthlessness.2
  5. Furthermore, there is the ensuing guilt associated with these feelings.
  6. There can be the added onset of apathy which results in a withdrawal from social activities and people in general.
  7. Depression may influence body movements –Psychomotor retardation – which is a change in motor behaviour such as slower movements, pauses in speech or less eye contact.2
  8. Psychomotor agitation can be experienced by those that suffer anxiety along with depression which is indicated by restlessness, agitation and gesturing.2
  9. Atypical depression is indicated by an increase in appetite(hyperphagia) and an increase in sleep patterns (hypersomnia).2
  10. Depression with psychotic aspects is a severe depression which includes hallucinations and delusions such as the belief that their thoughts are being broadcast over the radio.2
  11. Heart disease and stroke, thyroid problems, cancer, sleep apnea, chronic pain along with other diseases are often associated with depression.2
  12. In Australia 3.4% of the population reported having a psychological disability which resulted in profound and severe core activity limitations such as self-care, mobility and communication.3
  13. Long term health conditions and impairments coexist alongside of the psychological disabilities, with 38.7% suffering from depression and 38.9% suffering anxiety related disorders.3
  14. Other symptoms include arthritis (27.5%) hypertension (22.7%), back problems (24%) and for some, a higher risk of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.3
  15. The three most common areas where assistance is needed is cognitive or emotional tasks (88.0%), mobility (58.6%) and health care (51.2%).4
  16. In those suffering depression, the mortality rate is double that of the general population due to direct (suicide) and indirect (medical illness) reasons.4
  17. Suicide is the leading cause of premature death in Australia for those aged 15 to 44. Since 2012 there has been an increase in mental and behavioural conditions with mood (effective) problems including depression and anxiety being the most prevalent. These conditions are higher in women (16-24-year old’s) than in men, peaking at age 44-54 then lessening in older age groups.4
  18. Substance abuse is reported as being the highest in the 16-24 age bracket, then tends to decline in older age groups.4
  19. Intentional self-harm (suicide) is ranked as being the 14th leading cause of all deaths in Australia with NSW having the highest suicide rate, followed by Victoria, Queensland and WA. The most recurrent method of suicide is by hanging, strangulation or suffocation.4
  20. The highest percentage of suicide is amongst the 15-19-year-old age group for both males and females, with suicide being more prevalent amongst males (74.7%), 8.7% higher than that for females. Over the last few years the rate of suicide in those aged 5-17 years has increased by 9.4% with the Northern Territory reporting the highest provincial rate of child deaths.4

The extent of these depressive experiences will vary greatly from person to person. If you suffer from any of these symptoms for prolonged periods you are most likely experiencing depression. Other illnesses may have similar symptoms to depression, therefore it is important that you see your doctor to obtain a professional assessment and a mental health treatment plan.

What helps depression?

– Confide in a friend or family member who will listen, understand and offer support through the ups and downs.

– Join a group with others who are suffering the same or similar. In a group situation, there is empathy, understanding and no judgements.

– Find a group of people to do relaxing or enjoyable things with. In the company of others, it is easier to step outside the depression long enough to feel uplifted.

– Spend time with friends that give you compliments and make you laugh or smile.

– Self-nurturing – Take up an exercise that has a positive effect on your mood such as yoga, aerobics, walking or dancing.

– Find self-expression through creativity such as art, crafts, music, writing or singing.

– Mindfulness meditation will help calm the mind, gain focus and balance out your mood and wellbeing.

Finally, get professional support. It helps if you are open to confiding in a friend or another adult you can trust. Ask them to help you arrange an appointment with your doctor, a counsellor or psychologist.

You are welcome to subscribe and share with others your own thoughts and experiences on depression.

References

  1. Kelly, N., Rees, B., & Shuter, P. (2002). Medicine through Time. Oxford, USA: Harcourt Education.
  2. Hammen, C., & Watkins, E. (2008). Depression. East Sussex: Psychology Press.
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012). Psychological Disability. Accessed: May 22, 2015.
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013). Causes of Death, Australia. Accessed: May 9, 2015