Depression is as old as mankind. It is not only the oldest described illnesses in the medical history, but also the most common mental disorder today.
If we find it difficult to work, socialize, sleep, if we cannot look forward to life, then it is no longer a bad mood, or just sadness, but depression.
Currently, the depression is the second health problem in women, and when it comes to world population depression is in fourth place. According to the World Health Organization, in 2020 depression will become the leading health problem among the female population, and the second world health problem. This is due to the continuous increase in the number of depressed people as recorded from 1910 onwards. At least every tenth person has a chance to suffer from depression once during life; it can occur in children and elderly, and it is particularly common in middle-aged people.
Depression causes profound suffering, and most people agree that this is the most painful experience one can face during lifetime. Depression is more than just sadness. However, if the sorrow appears for no reason, or it is disproportionate to the cause, if it does not stop or if it reappears, if we find it difficult to work, socialize, sleep, if we cannot look forward to life, then it is no longer a bad mood, no ordinary sadness, but depression.
What is depression?
Depression is a serious mental disorder, a real illness that must be treated. It requires treatment because it affects all segments of patient`s life, and if it is not treated, it gets worse and worse. Because of ignorance, depression is not even recognized by the people who suffer from it, as well as their surroundings, even if depression causes significant marital, family, professional and social difficulties. Depression is a disease with high mortality rates. The data indicate that up to 15% of depressed people commit suicide. Therefore depression requires a serious approach, early recognition and appropriate treatment in order to avoid possible fatal consequences.
What are the most common misconceptions associated with depression?
- Depression will quickly pass by itself, so the treatment is not necessary.
- Depression is something that attacks only the weak and helpless.
- Depression will disappear after changing the surroundings (depression is like a suitcase, traveling together with its owner!).
- Depressed people know best how they feel (partly true!) and so they can cure themself (wrong!).
What we should not forget?
- Depression is not a sign of weakness, depression is an illness.
- Depression is a treatable disease.
- The more patients know about depression and the more they participate in the program of their treatment, the easier they will conquer the depression.
- Healing never happens overnight; it takes several weeks for the patient to feel better.
- Depression is often unrecognized by the primary care physicians, mostly due to the presence of physical symptoms that distract doctor`s attention.
- Because of ignorance, wrong attitudes and beliefs, many depressed people do not seek medical help.
- We should get to know depression in order to be able to fight it more easily.
What is not depression?
Depression is not the sense of transient bad mood; it is a disease that significantly impairs the daily life.
Depression is not a sign of moral weakness; depression is the result of an imbalance of the chemicals in the brain, which is affected by heritage, stress, and lifestyle.
There is a big difference between the usual sadness and suffering caused by depression. When we are disappointed with life, when we lose our friends or lose a loved one, it is natural that we feel sad and worried. Such events extinguish our joy, but soon most people return to their normal state.
How to recognize depression?
Depressed patients are unhappy, apathetic and increasingly tired.
Depression is a disease, as well as high blood pressure, or diabetes. Patients, as well as with any other chronic illness, have to learn how to recognize it and deal with it during the life. You should not be ashamed if you are depressed. Say how you feel! Let your doctor know all about your health problems. If the doctor does not know your problems, complaints and symptoms, s/he may find it difficult to make an accurate diagnosis. There are effective ways to treat depression and to return to normal life without suffering. But if depression is not treated, it can become a life-threatening illness! The depression should be suspected when a person constantly feels sad every day for a period of two weeks or longer and when nothing could cheer him/her up.
Depressed patients are unhappy, apathetic and increasingly tired. Depression is also characterized by indifference, apathy, loss of joy, and in some cases increased tension, restlessness and irritability. Also, depression can interfere with basic body functions, and can manifest itself as sleep disturbance, decrease or increase of appetite, sluggishness, restlessness, weakness, exhaustion, loss of concentration and forgetfulness. Depressed mood prevents patient from carrying out normal and everyday activities. People with depression may feel excessive shame or guilt and may extensively think about death and dying, including suicide.
How often depression occurs?
Depression is the most common in people who are between 40 and 50 years old.
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders today. Number of persons with depressive disorder grows continuously since the beginning of the last century in all the industrialized countries of the world. Epidemiological studies indicate that 3-4% of the population suffer from severe, and 1.5 to 2% from the milder forms of depression. Women are more affected than men. The exact reason for this phenomenon is not known, but the assumption is that it occurs because of hormonal changes in women, pregnancy and birth, and predetermined life roles.
Depression is most common in people who are between 40 and 50 years old, although in 50% of cases the disease occurs earlier. In the age group of 60 years and above the occurrence of depression is 10%, which sometimes presents a diagnostic problem when it comes to dementia. There is no significant difference in the incidence of the disorder among different races, nor is the significant impact of the socio-economic condition perceived.
The first step in treating depression is the correct diagnosis. The diagnosis of depression is not difficult to set up, because it is very simple to establish the symptoms on the basis of the discussion with the patient. It is futile to expect that depression will be cured by willpower and positive thinking. It happens rarely, because the patients have lost the will and optimism, and are unable to gain them back. The most important thing is to visit the general practitioner on time, and s/he will decide whether it is necessary to consult a psychiatrist and what kind of therapy should be applied - antidepressants, psychotherapy or both.
Read more about treatment here.