It is estimated that roughly 350 million people worldwide are affected by depression, according to the World Health Organization. People will experience depression for any number of reasons from the tragic loss of a loved one to the change of hormones in one’s body after giving birth to a child. Regardless of the cause of depression, it is essential to seek the appropriate care to keep your life on track and to prevent additional, and more severe, side effects from developing.
Reasons for Depression
Each person will be unique in the source of their depression. The severity and duration can also vary from a few days to several years. Some of the reasons for onset depression include significant life changes such as the loss of a job, medical illness, family history, medication, abuse, social isolation, personal conflict and substance abuse.
Postpartum depression is another source of depression that affects up to 15 percent of women, as stated by National Institute of Mental Health. You can also experience depression from Seasonal Affective Disorder, it is a side effect of bipolar disorder and you might even experience psychotic depression which can lead to paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. Regardless of the source of depression, you should seek treatment as soon as possible so that it does not escalate.
Much like the source of depression, symptoms can vary from one person to the next. Feelings of sadness, loneliness or emptiness are usually the first signs. Theses symptoms may be accompanied with one or any of the following emotional or physical symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of interest in people and activities
- Sleeping too much
- Thoughts of suicide or death
- Weight loss or weight gain
If you are feeling any combination of these symptoms for more than several days, you may have depression and should speak with a professional immediately.
Your first step should be to speak with someone about your existing state of mind such as your doctor or a counselor. These individuals can help to lead you in the right direction such as to speak in greater detail with a psychiatrist or psychologist. The difference is that a psychologist often focuses more on your mental and emotional concerns, whereas a psychiatrist is a medically trained doctor who can prescribe and care for the management of your medication. Before being prescribed drugs, it may be determined that you should begin a course of natural treatments that might include exercise, foods high in serotonin, the elimination of caffeine, fish oil, St. John’s Wort or meditation.
If a natural course of action does not prove effective, you might be prescribed medication that could possibly transform your life into a highly positive place to make you more productive and happier in life. Another possible treatment that can help is transcranial magnetic stimulation which is a noninvasive and painless process that involves the stimulation of nerve cells in the brain by magnetic fields. And, do not forget that hundreds of helplines and online support exist that have someone with whom to speak at any time of the day or night without any cost to you.
Dangers if Left Untreated
The Mayo Clinic has released a number of possible issues that may arise as a direct result of depression if left untreated. They include:
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Behaviors of self-destruction
- Development of terminal medical conditions
- Emotional or physical pain
- Issues at school
- Issues at work
- Personal conflicts
- Severe weight gain or weight loss
- Social isolation
- Thoughts of suicide and even attempts
Many of these complications from untreated depression also lead to more challenges in life including loss of a job and economic hardship. Both of these can lead to even greater depression. These are just a few examples of the importance of taking care of depression as early as possible. And, it should be noted that 20 percent of people who experience a major depressive disorder will develop symptoms of a psychotic nature, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It is extremely important to seek help for depression to avoid such dangerous complications from arising.
This article should not replace or substitute advice or treatment from a licensed professional. Only a licensed professional can make an accurate diagnosis.
If you or a loved one is contemplating suicide, seek professional help immediately. Emergency services include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. It is a free and confidential service.