Depression – The Silent Killer
Depression is a real illness that affects the brain. It is a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest.
Anyone suffering from depression will share with you that it is not “just in the head”, it is not “imaginary” and it is way more than, “I’m just feeling down. I will be alright in a moment”.
Psychological, social and biological factors such as an alteration in brain chemistry may contribute to a person developing depression. Excessive stress, grief, genetics, changes in physiological hormonal levels, diagnosis of certain medical conditions and difficult life circumstances may cause depression. This persistent feeling of sadness may lead to a range of presentations such as changes in sleep, appetite, energy levels, behaviour, or even concentration.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the world’s most disabling disorders. Statistics reveal that 21% of women and 12% of men globally, will, at one point in their lives, experience a depressive episode.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION?
Victims of depression often mention that they are feeling “down”. But when one looks closer, there is a change in everything that they do. Their entire life pattern changes. Depression affects thoughts, emotions, behaviour and overall physical health. Some of the symptoms may include a feeling of sadness or hopelessness, possible guilt or moodiness and they may present with angry outbursts. Socially a loss of interest in friends or family and favourite activities are common. Other possible signs are decreased concentration, sudden short-term memory loss, thoughts of self-harm or hallucinations. In the work environment potential signs may be excessive absenteeism or withdrawal from the company. Family members may notice signs of substance abuse, tiredness or lack of energy, unexplained aches or pain, changes in appetite or sudden weight loss or gain. While some of these symptoms may not be indicative, specialised healthcare providers may identify clusters or on-going events that allow them to diagnose and treat the depression. These aspects may have an important impact on daily life and need professional intervention.
It is important to speak to a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist as treatment often may involve therapy and medication. Treatment plans differ and are tailored to each patient’s symptoms.
RECOVERING FROM DEPRESSION
Since depression changes a person’s entire life, our patient needs to pay attention to all aspects of life and make some major and forceful changes to overcome their feelings of helplessness. Here are some of the life changes one should make, in conjunction with following your prescribed treatment plan:
- Get some exercise: Regular exercise can help you sleep better and improve your mood.
- Sleep well: Depression and anti-depressants have proven to have an effect on the patient’s sleeping pattern. Some patients sleep excessively while others have insufficient sleep. It is therefore, important to have a good sleep routine. Get a regular bedtime schedule and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid midday naps. Before going to bed, read a book that you enjoy or relax to some music.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Unfortunately, there is no food that can terminate the presence of depression, however, a healthy diet can keep you feeling good about yourself and provide you with some critical nutrients. Reduce your fat and sugar intake and eat lots of vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Caffeine has properties and effects that may cause anxiety and palpitations. Therefore, it is advisable to cut down on coffee intake, chocolate, tea and fizzy drinks.
- Manage your weight: Excessive weight gain, during a time when one is battling with the disorder may have detrimental effects. Managing your weight is important as this will also have an impact on self-esteem.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs: The possibility of over indulging in alcohol, in an attempt to numb the effects of the depression is extremely high. So rather avoid alcohol and drugs completely. Alcohol and drugs can interfere with the chemical properties of any prescription medication.
- Stay connected and get involved: People who suffer from depression tend to isolate themselves. Stay connected to people who care about you. Get involved by forcing yourself to do that which you used to do with those you did it with and enjoyed it. Resist the temptation of isolating yourself. Keeping positive company will help you to channel your thoughts and emotion in the right direction.
No matter who you are or what your disposition in life is, you can win the battle against depression. There are still people who love you and need you. Get help. Conquer.
ER24’s nurse and trauma counselling team are available 24/7 to our members. Call 084 124 to speak to a member of our counselling team today.