Some people feel they suffer from depression because of occasional brief periods of sadness following certain life events. Usually, we feel sad following events such as loss of a job, end of a relationship, loss of a loved one etc. However, during these periods of sadness or shortly afterwards, we’re able to engage in our routine activities and can still derive pleasure from activities we love. Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that involves a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest, which lasts for at least 2 weeks. It can last for months, even years, and usually require medical intervention.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the main cause of disability worldwide. For one to be diagnosed with depression, at least 5 of the following symptoms must be present almost every day for 2 weeks or more. Note that one of the symptoms present must be either a depressed mood or markedly reduced interest.
1. Depressed mood
2. Markedly reduced interest or pleasure in all/almost all activities (even activities that
were previously enjoyed).
3. Increased or decreased appetite (significant unintentional weight gain or weight loss)
4. Fatigue or loss of energy.
5. Feeling of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
6. Decreased ability to concentrate or indecisiveness.
7. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal attempt.
These symptoms, when present, usually interfere with important areas of life like social, occupational and/or personal life. Physical symptoms such as chronic pain or digestive symptoms can also be present in depression. Following diagnosis of depression, various approaches (medical and non-medical) are available for treatment. Non-medical approaches include exercise and diet (fruit, veggies, fish). Basically, a healthy lifestyle is helpful. Medical approaches entail psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy), pharmacological (antidepressant medications) and occasionally, electroconvulsive therapy.
Your doctor would help you decide which approach is best for you.