Is any of your friends, relatives, peers, neighbours are complaining three or four symptoms out of the following ‘SIGECAPS’ symptoms for at least two weeks –
- S– Sleep disturbances ( decreased / increased )
- I -Interest decreased in activities
- G– Guilt or worthlessness/Hopelessness
- E– Energy deficit
- C– Concentration difficulties
- A– Appetite disturbances ( decreased / increased )
- P– Psychomotor retardation or agitation
- S– Suicidality
This may be a case of depression and according to the American Psychological Association, depression is the number one most rampant psychiatric condition worldwide. Globally more than 264 million of people of all ages suffer from depression. ( Reference – World Health Organization ), Click Here to read the article
A lot of reasons have been identified that include physical as well as psychological causes. The important ones are discussed here –
- Stressful Life Events – Stress is a relative word and though everyone who passes stressful life is not necessarily become depressed. Usually the recent painful experiences such as meeting an accident, losing a job, divorce, relationship break up, or death in a family.
- Catastrophizing – It is a common cognitive distortion or thinking error or negative thinking or problematic pattern of thinking. The person chooses to think only the negative part of of event. “This is all my fault”, “No one cares for me”, He starts to perceive all events in a pessimistic way.
- Learned Helplessness – According to Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology people succumb to depression when they feel powerless against the negative events of their life. They start believing that any bad thing keeps happening only to them or everything in their life is bad. This feeling fosters helplessness in them. Read a book – “What you can change and What you can not” by Martin Seligman. Check price on Amazon
- Physiological Imbalances – Hormones (chemical substances that influence the activity of another part of the body) and neurotransmitters (molecules used by the nervous system to transmit messages between neurons ) play significant roles in appetite, level of energy, mood regulation, depression all physical actions.
Hormones and neurotransmitters when are not at optimum levels they start causing depressing activities. Studies have found that a low level of neurotransmitters like serotonin might be responsible for depression. Cortisol which is a primary stress hormone has an adverse effect on the nervous system and causes shrinkage of the hippocampus that is responsible for short-term memory, concentration, sleep regulation, and other cognitive processes.
- Inheritance – A family history of depression is often a cause of depression, though it is not bound to happen. Research and evidence-based studies into the genetics of depression are still in the early stages. However, research has also shown that people with parents or siblings who have depression are up to three times more likely to have the condition.
- Dysfunctional Home Life – An unhappy broken family or abandoned by parents at a young age the sufferer has a greater risk of depression. Sometimes causes psychological damage too. The study suggests that the harmful effects of childhood emotional maltreatment have a long-term effect on adult mental health. It’s also clear that if we don’t receive the care and support we need to recover from childhood wounds, we are much more likely to pass on the emotional damage to the subsequent generation.
- Lack of Social Support – Sometimes this is observed to be a major contributor to depression. It has been observed that people who are supported by close relationships with friends, family, peers, colleagues, and other support groups are much less vulnerable to depression and possess less or no suicidal tendencies and vice versa. Social association prevents neurodegeneration and keeps mental agility and sharpness, thus pushes away the probability of anxiety and depression.
Ways to Overcome Depression –
- Sunlight – A lot of research and evidence-based studies suggest that simply walking outside for just ten minutes when the sun is high can control circadian rhythm ( it is sleep-wake cycle roughly 24 hrs on Earth ) and combat all diseases including depression to a great extent. A circadian rhythm is an effect of a biological clock, so not only as a curative measure but also as a preventive measure, one needs natural bright sunlight at least once a day.
Read “The 5 AM Club” book by Robin Sharma. Check price on Amazon
- Physical Activities – During regular physical exercises happy hormone namely endorphin which is also known as ‘mood lifters’ gets released and starts improving a depressed patient.
Studies proved that 30 minutes of brisk walking three times a week start regulating neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin secretion, while at low levels they cause depression.
Click Here for walk, Jog, Run guidance.
- Good Foods – Omega 3 which is a fatty acid is universally accepted as a supplement. Fish oil, nuts, seeds, eggs are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and soybeans, corns, fruits, meats are rich in omega 6 fatty acids. The ideal combination of both anywhere between 1.1 to 3.1 plays anti-inflammatory roles, helps in the normal functioning of the nervous system and release a lot of tryptophan, protein molecule that in turn causes upliftment of neurotransmitter like serotonin and eventually improves a depressed person. Check Price on Amazon
- Healthy Sleep – More than the quantity of sleep the quality of sound and healthy sleep is crucial to lead a stress-free and consequently depressed-free life. Sleep quality is associated with depression and vice-versa. Sleep varies as we age and for each individual depending on health status. There is no magic number of sleep hrs,, for details information you may Click Here to understand more about ideal sleep duration.
- Anti-Ruminative Activities – A habit of rumination ( the process of continuously thinking the same sad or dark thoughts ) can be dangerous to your mental health. It can prolong or intensify depression as well as impair your ability to think and process emotions. The more you ruminate more you get depressed.
Research suggests that with different engaging activities, talking to friends, readjusting life’s goal, taking life as it is, meditation and above all the quality of good thoughts will stop repeating ruminating sad or dark thoughts in the depressed mind.
- Social Connections – Loneliness is contagious! Individuals with depressive symptoms are more likely to be isolated in their social networks, which can further increase their symptoms. Social interactions are an important aspect of individuals’ social lives.
One of the most famous, a Harvard Study found that people with stronger social connections were the healthiest and happiest. Social connectivity over a lifetime was the key variable that influenced happiness and longevity to a great extent to elevate the mood of depressed people. Click Here to read the wonderful article.
- Psychotherapy or Counselling – This is known as ‘Talking Therapy’ ,(Click Here and read on ‘Talking Therapy’). Depending on the severity and gravity of the victim either counseling ( short term consultation ) and Psychotherapy ( extensive longer-term treatment ) may be started. Psychotherapy is related to the mind (psyche) which works to help you achieve and maintain good mental health and is found to be a very effective way of treating a depressed mind.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy ( CBT ) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on how a person’s thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes affect their feelings and behaviors. Through CBT, the negative thoughts are identified, challenged, and replaced with more objective, realistic thoughts resulting in the upliftment of thoughts and balanced emotion.
- Anti-depressant – The modern anti-depressants are extremely effective and are to be taken for a shorter period. The relief is immediate with fewer side effects. As discussed earlier Antidepressants work by balancing chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters that influence mood and emotions. These depression medicines can help improve your mood, help you sleep better, and increase your appetite and concentration at work. The dosage and duration of medicine have to be prescribed by a professional medical practitioner only.
Final Remarks – Most patients suffering from depression do not complain of feeling depressed and are often left unrecognized, undiagnosed, and untreated. Depression has a high rate of morbidity and mortality when left untreated. There are several screening tools for depression that are effective and all clinicians should remain alert to screen depression in their patients.
Once diagnosed with mild to moderate depression psychotherapy is a very effective choice. But, Psychotherapy is not appropriate alone for severe depression, psychosis, and bipolar disorders (Bipolar disorder is an illness that produces dramatic swings in mood from low mood to high energy in the patient ). For more severe depression cases psychotherapy may be appropriate in combination with the use of medications. The best part is this disease is not only manageable but curable too. The biggest and enormous challenges are faced by friends, relatives, and especially for the relatives. Compassionate care from clinicians and relatives major keys to treatment success.
Control your thoughts, your positive thoughts will make you and negative thoughts will break you and may lead to a depressed mind. Will you be cheerful enough now on ….?
Read ‘Authentic Happiness’ by Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology , Check On Amazon