Depression is a serious disease that causes adverse effects on patient’s physical health, daily activities and relationships. Depression usually becomes chronic with recurrent episodes. If left untreated, Depression can lead to the severe complications.

Complications associated with depression

Risk for Suicide

As per the reliable estimates, Depression causes two-thirds of all suicide cases. The tendency of committing suicide is more profound in men as compared to women.

Whenever one talks of contemplating suicide, it should be taken very seriously. There are certain antidepressant medications that may enhance the risk for suicidal tendency in adolescents.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Depressed people are vulnerable to get addicted to alcohol or drug abuse. There is no such established study that links alcohol dependence and depression; however depressed people tend to consume alcohol or drugs to forget their sorrows or painful experiences.

Smoking

Smoking is the most common complication of depressed people and in majority of the cases, depressed people are usually nicotine dependent. Patients with genetically induced depression consume nicotine as it improves their mood may by stimulating receptors in the brain.

Heart Disease and Heart Attacks

Depression may lead to severe heart disease and even causes heart attack in severe cases. Moreover, depression may also weaken response to medications in heat disease patients.

Some of the harmful effects caused by depression involve impaired blood flow to the heart, modifications in heart rate and increased risk for blood clotting.

Obesity

Depressed patients are at increased risk of developing obesity. Moreover, obese people are more prone to depression as compared to non-obese people.

Both Obesity and depression have common risk factors such as lower social and economic group,  low physical activity, etc.

Mental Decline

Depression in the elderly people causes decline in mental functioning irrespective of dementia. Some studies have also linked Depression with Alzheimer’s disease.

The brain scans of the elderly depressed patients show increased shrinkage as compared to scans of non-depressed individuals.

Increasing Sensations of Pain

Depression is also associated with increased pain in patients suffering from arthritis or fibromyalgia.

Cancer

The depression and anxiety adversely affect the life of cancer patients.

Sexual Problems

Depression often leads to decreased sex drive as depressed people lack the mood and vigour needed for active sex life. Long term depression results in loss of self-esteem and relationship problems.

Effects on Relationships

Effects on children

Depression in parents causes bad or negative influence on their relationships with their children. Thus, it may contribute to the risk for depression in their children.

Effects on Marriage

As per the estimates, depressed people have complicated married life and they usually have higher divorce rates as compared to healthy people.

Moreover, a depressed partner may also results in depression in other partner.

Effect on Work

Depressed individuals lose the interest in life and it adversely affects their work life. Depression increases the risk for unemployment and tends to make the workers unproductive.

Depressed workers develop various health problems and also take more time to recover. All these factors adversely affect their work and chances of promotion at workplace.

Risk Category of Depression

As such, the exact cause of depression is not yet known; however there are many factors that results in depression in people.

Some of the risk factors comprise of Biological factors, psychological and social factors, lifestyle choices, etc. In fact, there are various stressful life events that can trigger depression.

Risk factors for depression in Men

There are certain risk factors that make a man more vulnerable to depression.

  • Lack of social support
  • Loneliness and lack of friends
  • Inability to deal with stress effectively
  • Childhood trauma or abuse
  • Addiction to alcohol or drug abuse
  • Isolation

Risk factors for depression in Women

There are certain biological and hormonal risk factors that make a woman more vulnerable to depression.

  • Premenstrual problems
  • Pregnancy and infertility
  • Postpartum depression
  • Peri-menopause and menopause
  • Body image issues
  • Harbouring negative feelings

Common Risk factors of Depression

  • Being a woman (as per researchers, women are twice more likely to develop depression than men)
  • Individuals with family history of depression
  • Individuals who have had traumatic childhood experiences
  • Individuals with family history of alcoholism
  • Individuals with biological family members who have had committed suicide
  • Individuals who have faced unfortunate life events
  • Individuals who have few friends
  • Individuals who have had failed personal relationships
  • Postpartum depression in women who have given birth to child recently
  • Individuals with depressed mood as a child
  • Patient suffering from serious illness such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease
  • Individuals with low self-esteem
  • Individuals who are self-critical or pessimistic
  • Individuals who are addicted to alcohol, nicotine or illicit drugs
  • Individuals who are poor
  • Individuals who take high blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, etc

Stressful life events that trigger depression

Apart from these risk factors there are various stressful life events that trigger depression in otherwise normal individuals.

  • Failed relationship such as breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Getting failed in exam
  • Illness of near ones
  • Divorce
  • Childhood abuse
  • Job loss
  • Social isolation

How to prepare for Doctor’s appointment?

You are experiencing symptoms of depression and wondering what to do? You should stop worrying and think about seeking Doctor’s appointment. .

You should prepare for Doctor’s appointment because the appointments are usually brief and doctor needs to ask many questions.

Tips for preparing for doctor’s appointment

  • You should make a list of all the symptoms you are experiencing. You should also include those symptoms which may not be related to depression.
  • You should also make a list of recent major events in your life that had affected you including recent life changes.
  • You should also note down list of all medications you are taking including any supplements.
  • If you want to ask any questions from the doctor, you should prepare a list of such questions.
  • You should go for appointment along with a family member or friend for moral support. It is because you may not remember everything told by doctor. Also, your relative/friend may remember something that you might miss out.
  • As the time of appointment is limited, you should prepare a list of questions well in advance. Once the list is prepared, you need to prioritise the questions from most important to least important ones.

Basic questions to ask from your doctor

  • What are the major causes or symptoms of depression?
  • What are other possible causes apart from common symptoms?
  • What are the diagnostic tests for depression?
  • What are the various treatment therapies available for treating your depression?
  • What are the various alternative treatments suitable for your treatment?
  • What are the overall costs associated with treatment therapy?
  • Any restrictions that you should follow during the duration of treatment?
  • What are possible side effects for antidepressants medications?
  • Any generic alternatives available for the prescribed medicines?
  • Any brochures or printed material that you should read for learning more about disease?
  • Any recommended websites for learning more about disease?

During your conversation with your doctor, if you feel that you do not understand any terms or concept, you should not hesitate to ask.

Common Questions asked by Doctor

Your doctor may ask you many questions for identifying the exact cause of depression. You may prepare the answers for these questions well in advance so as to help the doctor in the diagnosis.

  • What are the various symptoms of depression experienced by you?
  • When did the first time, the symptoms of depression are noticed by you?
  • How long did the symptoms last?
  • What is the frequency of mood fluctuations?
  • Is there any set pattern for mood swings from feeling high to feeling low?
  • Any instances when you contemplate committing suicide?
  • How symptoms interfere with your daily life or relationships?
  • What is your daily lifestyle? Is it stressful?
  • Do you have any biological relatives with medical history of depression?
  • Do you have any associated disease or physical health conditions?
  • Are you addicted to smoking, alcohol or any other illicit drugs?
  • Do you have sleep disturbances?
  • Activities or any other things that improve your symptoms?
  • Activities or any other things that worsen your symptoms?

How would you come to know that you get Depression? The early detection of the Depression helps in treating it successfully and therefore you should know the signs and symptoms of Depression.

Knowing the symptoms of depression not only helps in better understanding of the disease but also makes you aware of the conditions when you should visit the doctor.

Common Symptoms of Depression

  • Lack of Self esteem or worthlessness
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Easily get irritated or frustrated
  • Loss of interest in things which were once pleasurable
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Disturbed sleep such as Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Inability to sit still
  • Impaired thinking
  • Difficulty in speaking or body movements
  • Decreased concentration/Distraction
  • Fatigue and tiredness (loss of energy even while performing small tasks)
  • Trouble in making decisions
  • Suicidal tendency
  • Mood Swings for no apparent reason
  • Back pain or headaches of unknown origin

Symptoms of depression in Children and Teens

Although depression in more prevalent in people above 20 years of age, however it may also occur in kids or children. The common symptoms of depression in children and teens are different from

that of adults.

Symptoms of depression in kids

  • Sadness
  • Worry
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness

In children and teens, depression may be associated with other mental health problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Symptoms of depression in adolescents and teens

  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Avoidance of social interaction
  • Changes in thinking
  • Sleep

Symptoms of Depression in Young Teens

The present day life style puts lots of pressure on young teens and they are under constant stress to perform at school and in various competitive exams.

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Sadness or hopelessness

Depression symptoms in older adults

Although depression is not a common occurrence in older adults however it may affects the older adults. Most of the time, depressed older adults goes undiagnosed and untreated as they are reluctant to ask for any help when they’re depressed.

The symptoms of depression in older adults may seem to occur due to other illnesses.

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Dissatisfied with life in general
  • Bored, helpless or worthless
  • Prefer staying at home or alone
  • Avoid socializing with others
  • Contemplating suicide in severe cases
  • Psychotic symptoms in severe cases like hallucinations and delusions

In fact, older depressed patients are at high risk for contemplating suicide. Depression can also manifest itself in form of anger and discouragement.

Causes of Depression

What is it that keeps most people depressed and sad? What makes them feeling worthlessness and gloomy?  People are often clueless about what makes them depressed. Actually, the exact cause of depression is yet to be identified.

Depression may result from variety of causes. In fact, finding out the exact cause of the depression is one of the challenges in treating depression. Once the underlying cause is identified, the treatment may begin and yield effective results quickly.

Common causes of Depression

The depression may result from either a single cause or a combination of one or more causes. Also, depression does not depend on age of patient and may even occur in kids.

Genetics and Hereditary:  The genes of depression are believed to be inherited by children from their parents. It is more prevalent in patients whose biological family members have history of depression.

Unfortunate Life events: There are certain unfortunate events that may lead to depression in otherwise normal people. These life events may include heavy financial loss, death of a loved one, high work stress, etc.

Childhood trauma: There are certain sections of people who have had traumatic childhood experience such as loss of parent or child abuse. Such changes may lead to permanent brain changes that make such people vulnerable to depression.

Biological differences: Researchers believe that depression may result from chemical or physical changes in the brains of affected people.

Neurotransmitters: These are naturally occurring brain chemicals, associated with the fluctuations in the mood of the person. The neurotransmitters are supposed to play significant part in causing depression.

Hormones: The hormones may trigger depression depending on the changes in their levels in the body. There are various factors that brought about changes in hormone levels such as menopause, thyroid problems, etc.

Risk factors of Depression

Depression is more prevalent in people with certain specified risk factors. These risk factors enhance the risk of developing depression.

  • Being a woman (as per researchers, women are twice more likely to develop depression than men)
  • Individuals with family history of depression
  • Individuals who have had traumatic childhood experiences
  • Individuals with family history of alcoholism
  • Individuals with biological family members who have had committed suicide
  • Individuals who have faced unfortunate life events
  • Individuals who have few friends
  • Individuals who have had failed personal relationships
  • Postpartum depression in women who have given birth to child recently
  • Individuals with depressed mood as a child
  • Patient suffering from serious illness such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease
  • Individuals with low self-esteem
  • Individuals who are self-critical or pessimistic
  • Individuals who are addicted to alcohol, nicotine or illicit drugs
  • Individuals who are poor
  • Individuals who take high blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, etc

Apart from these risk factors there are various stressful life events that trigger depression in otherwise normal individuals.

  • Failed relationship such as breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Getting failed in exam
  • Illness of near ones
  • Divorce
  • Childhood abuse
  • Job loss
  • Social isolation

Causes of Depression

What is it that keeps most people depressed and sad? What makes them feeling worthlessness and gloomy?  People are often clueless about what makes them depressed. Actually, the exact cause of depression is yet to be identified.

Depression may result from variety of causes. In fact, finding out the exact cause of the depression is one of the challenges in treating depression. Once the underlying cause is identified, the treatment may begin and yield effective results quickly.

Common causes of Depression

The depression may result from either a single cause or a combination of one or more causes. Also, depression does not depend on age of patient and may even occur in kids.

Genetics and Hereditary:  The genes of depression are believed to be inherited by children from their parents. It is more prevalent in patients whose biological family members have history of depression.

Unfortunate Life events: There are certain unfortunate events that may lead to depression in otherwise normal people. These life events may include heavy financial loss, death of a loved one, high work stress, etc.

Childhood trauma: There are certain sections of people who have had traumatic childhood experience such as loss of parent or child abuse. Such changes may lead to permanent brain changes that make such people vulnerable to depression.

Biological differences: Researchers believe that depression may result from chemical or physical changes in the brains of affected people.

Neurotransmitters: These are naturally occurring brain chemicals, associated with the fluctuations in the mood of the person. The neurotransmitters are supposed to play significant part in causing depression.

Hormones: The hormones may trigger depression depending on the changes in their levels in the body. There are various factors that brought about changes in hormone levels such as menopause, thyroid problems, etc.

Risk factors of Depression

Depression is more prevalent in people with certain specified risk factors. These risk factors enhance the risk of developing depression.

  • Being a woman (as per researchers, women are twice more likely to develop depression than men)
  • Individuals with family history of depression
  • Individuals who have had traumatic childhood experiences
  • Individuals with family history of alcoholism
  • Individuals with biological family members who have had committed suicide
  • Individuals who have faced unfortunate life events
  • Individuals who have few friends
  • Individuals who have had failed personal relationships
  • Postpartum depression in women who have given birth to child recently
  • Individuals with depressed mood as a child
  • Patient suffering from serious illness such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease
  • Individuals with low self-esteem
  • Individuals who are self-critical or pessimistic
  • Individuals who are addicted to alcohol, nicotine or illicit drugs
  • Individuals who are poor
  • Individuals who take high blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, etc

Apart from these risk factors there are various stressful life events that trigger depression in otherwise normal individuals.

  • Failed relationship such as breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Getting failed in exam
  • Illness of near ones
  • Divorce
  • Childhood abuse
  • Job loss
  • Social isolation

Have you ever experienced the lasting feeling of sadness, restlessness, hopelessness or worthlessness? The present day lifestyle puts us in stressful conditions and there is a constant pressure to perform at peak levels. It eventually makes us depressed.

It is common nowadays to lose interest in activities that were once pleasurable.  These symptoms point towards the state of depression and in extreme cases, it may even lead people to contemplate or attempt suicide.

Believe it or not, Depression is all set to become second most common health disorder (placed after Heart Attack), across the world by the year 2020. Yes, Depression is a common mental disorder that is increasing at an alarming rate among general public.

As per the reliable estimates, Depression will soon become leading cause of death and disability the world over.

What is Depression?

In simple terms, Depression is a state of low mood. The depressed person usually shows signs of sadness, hopelessness, guilty, worthlessness, etc.

Depression influences the thoughts and behaviour of the affected person. If left untreated, the symptoms may become severe and affect the physical well being of person.

Depression can manifests itself in various ways.

•    As a normal reaction to certain life events
•    As a symptom of some medical conditions
•    As a result of certain treatment therapy
•    As a feature of certain psychiatric syndromes

Common Symptoms of Depression

Depressed people can exhibit wide range of symptoms from losing interest in pleasurable activities to contemplating suicide. It harbours pessimistic attitude in the affected people who begin to view everything with negative attitude.

Depression causes profound effect on self esteem of the person accompanied with various other problems such as loss of appetite, problems in making decisions, difficulty in concentrating, etc.

Symptoms of depression can be summarised as follows:

•    Anxiety
•    Agitation and irritability
•    Loss of appetite
•    Weight gain or loss
•    Difficulty in concentration
•    Fatigue
•    Low self esteem with feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, guilty
•    Feeling of isolation
•    Lack of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
•    Insomnia
•    Severe cases may include hallucinations and delusions
•    Thoughts of contemplating Death or Suicide

Types of Depression

Broadly, Depression can be categorised into following types.

•    Major Depression: In this depression, the normal life activities of the patient get affected and he/she may find it difficult to eat, work, sleep, study, and like once-pleasurable activities.

•    Dysthymic Disorder: This depression is characterized by symptoms that persist for long-term (for 2 years or more). Although the symptoms are not severe however they can prevent normal functioning in affected individuals.

•    Minor depression: This depression is characterized by symptoms that persist for short time period (for 2 weeks or longer).

•    Bipolar disorder: This depression is characterized by cycling mood changes that range from extreme highs (mania stage) to extreme lows (depression stage).

Diagnosis and assessment of Depression

The doctors perform the medical examination of the depressed patient and carry out selected investigations for ruling out other symptoms that may cause depression.

Common Diagnostic Procedures

•    Full patient medical history
•    Physical Assessment
•    Thorough evaluation of symptoms
•    Standardized questionnaires like Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and the Beck Depression Inventory

Selected investigations for ruling out other Causes

•    Blood tests for TSH and thyroxin levels for excluding hypothyroidism
•    Basic electrolytes and serum calcium for ruling out metabolic disturbances
•    Full blood count including ESR for ruling out a systemic infection
•    Adverse affective reactions for medications
•    Adverse affective reactions for alcohol misuse
•    Evaluation of Testosterone levels for diagnosing hypogonadism
•    Subjective cognitive complaints in older depressed people
•    Cognitive testing and brain imaging for distinguishing between depression and dementia
•    CT scan for excluding brain pathology in psychotic cases

Treatments

There are various types of treatment therapies available for treating depression.

•    Medications like antidepressants
•    Cognitive-behavioural therapy
•    Music therapy
•    Art therapy
•    Group therapy
•    Psychotherapy
•    Animal-assisted therapy
•    Physical exercise
•    Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
•    Tran cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
•    Light therapy