Ms Leila Abdool Gafoor
“Ugh. I’m depressed” is commonly heard in everyday language. It usually means that one is feeling sad or “down”. Everyone experiences bouts of sadness at one time or another, but that does not indicate depression. Sadness is a completely normal and healthy response to life’s disappointments, such as failing an exam or a relationship break up. Depression on the other hand is a serious condition which requires treatment.
Usually sad feelings will last a few days or maybe a week, and during this time a person is able to function normally in their life, fulfill duties and tasks or daily activities. When feelings of normal sadness don’t go away and, in fact, get deeper and more intense, and there is a difficulty carrying out daily activities, this can be signs of depression. Depression is a prolonged feeling of sadness that affects an individual’s social, occupational or academic functioning. It is a “whole-body” illness that affects one’s body, mood and thoughts. It can affect ones eating, sleeping and energy levels, as well as the way one feels about one’s self and the way one thinks about things and the world.
Depression has a variety of symptoms. If one identifies with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they last for more than 2 weeks, it may be necessary to seek help.
- Feelings of sadness most of the time
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities that were once enjoyed
- Difficulties with falling asleep or oversleeping
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Having less energy than usual, feeling tired all the time
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Restlessness, irritability or anger
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering things or making decisions
- Physical Symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, such as headaches, stomach pain, back or chest pain.
Depression is a complex disorder that has many possible causes and is often brought on by a mixture of different factors. Genes, imbalances in brain chemicals, and life experiences are among the factors that play a role in the development of depression.
“Who cares”, “what’s the point” and “why bother” are questions which often come up in the mind of a depressed person. This way of thinking can keep a depressed person from seeking treatment, even though depression is one of the most treatable of mental illnesses and 8 out of 10 people get better with treatment. There are many effective treatments for depression, including psychotherapy and medication.
Effective treatment for depression often includes some form of psychotherapy. Therapy gives one tools to treat depression from a variety of angles. What one learns in therapy can provide skills and insight to prevent depression from coming back.