Science recognizes six core emotions – anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise.
However, we often experience something we can’t really distinguish and fit into some of the six categories. While there are modern emotions, like ringxiety (mistakenly thinking your mobile phone is ringing), depression has always been around.
Human beings are not the only ones affected by depression; some animals – dogs, dolphins, primates and even rodents – also suffer from depression!
What Exactly Is Depression?
Depression is an intense feeling of sadness, loss of interest, and general discontent which goes on for long periods of time. Regarding medicine, depression is defined as mood disorder. It affects the entire being – how we feel, act, and think. People tend to think of this emotional state as a passing phase, but depression may seriously affect our overall emotional and physical well being.
A depressed person struggles in performing daily activities and often thinks life’s just not worth living. If the person surrenders and allows this feeling to take over the control, he/she will just fall deeper and deeper into the well of sadness and discontent.
What Causes Depression?
Luckily, depression can be silenced and even defeated. But, before discussing how, let’s see what causes this devastating feeling. Even though numerous researchers have dealt with depression, it is still unknown what exactly causes it. Some of the leading factors may be the following:
- Biological changes – some people appear to be more prone to depression, because of the physical changes in their brains over time.
- Personality traits – perfectionists, negative people, people with low self–esteem, self–critical, etc., are all at a greater risk to suffer from depression.
- Inherited traits – certain genes may be contributing factors, and scientists are working intensively on locating them in the human genome.
- Hormones – these chemicals have tremendous impact on our physical and psychological state, and it’s known that hormonal changes and disbalance affect our feelings.
Who Is Most Prone to Depression?
Depression can happen to anyone (no matter the gender, race, social status, etc.) at any age. However, it mostly begins in the 20s or 30s.
People most prone to depression may suffer from:
- Serious medical illness – continuous stress and worry about serious health issues like cancer, stroke, chronic pain, etc.
- Substance abuse – there is a connection between substance abuse and depression since many people suffer from both.
- Mental health disorders – anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD.
- Traumatic events – stressful and traumatic events like loss of a loved one, difficult financial situation, any kind of abuse, etc.
Also, some medications may lead to depression. Prescription drugs may have such side effects, so be sure to talk to your doctor.
Members of LGBTQ community and ethnical minorities often suffer from depression as a result of not finding support and understanding from their environment.
However, one objective reason doesn’t have to exist – if a person has difficulty in finding his/her place in the world, this can also be very hard to cope with.
How to Fight Depression?
Since depression is experienced differently by each individual, there is no uniform treatment. There are, however, some psychological and medical treatments proven to be helpful and effective.
Psychological therapies are the most common and based on talking with a professional – someone experienced and certified in treating depression. Therapies can be individual or group, depending on preferences and needs of the person with a problem.
Note: There is also a vast number of online therapies, whose credibility has to be checked.
If other treatments fail or the depression is severe, the treatment will include medications. Antidepressant medications may help but should be used with caution, and only by following doctor’s instructions. Besides anti-depressants, severe forms of depression may require the use of mood stabilizers and antipsychotic drugs.
Depression comes from our very own thoughts, so self-help strategies may also help. Since stress causes depression, we can try to control it. Finding help with family and friends will certainly have a positive impact. If you think only a professional can help, seek treatment as soon as you identify signs of depression – hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, reduced appetite, sleep disturbances, memory difficulties, physical pain, etc.
We often hear of people who are healthy, successful, have a happy family, but still suffer from depression. Happiness doesn’t have the same definition for everyone, so it is important to understand and help, instead of – judge.