What is Depression and What Can be Done?
We all have experienced depression at some point in life. Despondency and anxiety are natural reactions to difficult events. Losing a job, having problems with the economy or close relationships can make you feel bad for a period of time. The boundary between depression and anxiety is fluid, but in depression the symptoms are more severe and the symptoms are lasting more.
Sometimes one can feel dejected for no apparent reason. Feeling sadness, anger or hopelessness from time to time is not uncommon but a part of life. It is neither harmful nor sickly. Usually the emotions go away by themselves, but sometimes you may need the support of someone close. It is good if you can continue with everyday routines and chores, so that you think of something other than what is difficult.
After how much time can we know it is depression?
If the depression does not go away, if you do not think something is fun or feel sad most of each day for more than two weeks, then you may have suffered from depression. It is not always you realize by yourself that you have become depressed, but sometimes it is the relatives who discover the change. It is not uncommon to look for other physical symptoms, such as pain or sleep problems.
For about half of all people who experience depression, it is a one-off event. An ordinary depression episode often goes by itself. But it can be a difficult period. Therefore, it is important to ask for help so that the depression does not worsen. With the right treatment, most people can start feeling better already after a few weeks.
How do you know it is a depression?
Depression is regarded as one of the great diseases of our time and is a common cause of sick leave in the western world. More women than men are expected to suffer from depression. To be diagnosed with depression, you have to have several symptoms at the same time. The symptoms should also be such that it is difficult to function as usual at work, at leisure or socially.
Common symptoms of depression:
- Concern, anxiety and stress
- Lack of joy / interest in such things one usually enjoys
- Poor appetite
- Sleeping problems. You may have difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much of the day
- Fatigue, lack of energy
- Feeling of being useless
- Unjustified feelings of guilt. Sometimes this can turn into delusions
- Concentration difficulties
- Suicidal thoughts
Levels of Depression
The most common form of depression is called depression and is usually divided into three levels of difficulty. The boundaries between them are not sharp, but they can be described in the following way:
During a mild depression, one can often function socially and practically in their daily life. Despite feeling ill, you can still manage to go to work with some effort, socialize with friends and manage their daily chores.
During a moderate depression, it can be difficult to cope with their normal everyday life and their relationships. It may be that you are unable to go to work, spend time with your friends or that you sleep poorly. In some cases, you may be able to hide from others how you feel and still fulfill their duties.
During a severe depression you can feel so bad that you can’t even get up from bed or eat and drink. Serious suicidal thoughts and plans to end your life can occur, although not everyone with a severe depression is thinking about ending their lives.
If the depression recurs several times, it is said that you have a recurring depression. The risk of recurring depression increases if you are depressed for a long time and do not receive treatment.
Other Depressive Conditions
A depression triggered by stress is sometimes called fatigue depression or fatigue syndrome with actual depression. In fatigue syndrome you show typical signs of stress such as dizziness, palpitations and headaches. Not everyone who gets fatigue syndrome gets depressed.
Dysthymia is very similar to depression, but the symptoms are a little less pronounced. For at least two years, a person with dysthymia has found it difficult to feel happy and seems that life is generally unpleasant.
In bipolar disorder, recurrent periods of depression have been interspersed with periods of manic symptoms. During the manic periods one can be very active, exhilarated and energetic, but also indiscriminate. It can be difficult to distinguish bipolar disorder from regular depression and it can therefore take time before the right treatment is started.
Causes of Depression
Often, there are triggering factors, such as an event or situation that starts the depression. Some may have an increased vulnerability. This means that you have an increased risk of suffering from depression if you encounter difficulties in life. They usually talk about the stress-vulnerability model that is a combination of stress and individual vulnerability.
Treatment of Depression
There are good and effective treatments for depression. The treatment you choose depends on the type of depression, and how severe it is. A mild depression can go away by itself. With support and help, things can go well faster. It is important to try to keep your daily routines and sleep and eat regularly. Trying to see what is positive in everyday life and physical activity can help a faster recovery.
In the case of more severe depression, both drugs and psychological treatment can be effective and often these are used together. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most widely studied psychological form of therapy. In cognitive behavioral therapy, one works to change thought patterns and behaviors. When it comes to antidepressants, so-called SSRIs are the most common. They work by affecting certain neurotransmitters in the brain in different ways.
The more severe the depression, the more the need for drug treatment increases.
Important things to know about antidepressants:
- It usually takes a few weeks to get the effect.
- The dose may need to be changed.
- Different antidepressants have different side effects.
- You have to continue six months after you become well, otherwise there is a risk that depression may come back.
- Antidepressants are not addictive.
If the depression is really severe with imminent suicide risk, hospitalization should take place. ECT (electrical treatment) may also be necessary, which is an effective treatment for deep depression. All treatments can have side effects. But missed treatment also has its risks, which should be taken into consideration when considering treatment.
If you have had several periods of depression, preventive treatment may be necessary. Often the same antidepressant medication that has helped before, or the drug lithium, is used. It takes time for treatment to work whether it is a drug or psychological treatment. Therefore, it is important that the environment, both relatives and caregivers, are on hand to support and help in the meantime.