Judging by the lifestyle we indulge, the stress levels that we are exposed to, the aims and ambitions that each one of us tether into our lives, it is no surprise that at one point of time one of us is bound to severely break down and enter into a situation of hopelessness and within an aura of sadness. “Major depression is a mood state that goes well beyond temporarily feeling sad or blue. It is a serious medical illness that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, mood and physical health.”- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), United States of America.
A constant sense of hopelessness and despair is a sign you may have major depression, also known as clinical depression. If one has indeed become a case of major depression, it may be difficult for that one person to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy the company of friends and a sort of reluctance and loss of interest in activities. Some people have clinical depression only once, while others have it several times in a lifetime. Major depression seems to occur from one generation to the next in some families, but may affect people with no family history of the illness.
There are a number of signs that signal that an individual might be susceptible to a major mental illness. The ones to look out for in case of a clinical depression are:
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleep)
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities (anhedonia)
- Restlessness or feeling slowed down
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
- Significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)
Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression. Clinical depression affects about 6.7% of the U.S. population over the age of 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. However, it is very likely that between 20% and 25% of adults may suffer an episode of major depression at some point during their lifetime. It certainly also affects older adults, teens, and children, but it goes undiagnosed and untreated in certain sections of the population. In a country like India it can be ascertained that a big portion of the population is actually undergoing the pangs of clinical depression wherein only a negligible percentage are actually diagnosed with the problem and effectively treated.
Almost twice as many women as men have major or clinical depression as hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriage, and menopause, may increase the risk. Other factors that boost the risk of clinical depression in women include increased stress at home or at work, balancing family life with career, and caring for an aging parent or raising a child as a single parent also adds to the increased risk of clinical depression in women.
Depression in men is significantly underreported. Men who suffer from clinical depression are less likely to seek help or even talk about their experience. Signs in men may include irritability, anger, or drug and alcohol abuse (substance abuse can also be a cause of depression rather than the result of it). Repressing their feelings can result in violent behavior directed both inwardly and outwardly. It can also result in an increase in illness, suicide, or homicide.
However, be it depression or any other kind of mental disorder, medical science today has an answer for it. The one thing that one needs to be is aware of the situation and act accordingly in seeking proper medical advice and aid. Clinical depression is a disease that is definitely spreading like an epidemic, but it is not something that cannot be controlled or cured.