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What is Depression?

There are times when all of us have felt ‘moody’ and ‘low’, but then there are these other people who feel like this with greater intensity for longer periods of time, ranging from weeks to months or even years! This is depression and can affect how you feel about yourself and make day-to-day life very difficult to manage.

There are feelings of intense hopelessness, helplessness, sadness and feelings of being unworthy. This is clinical depression which is a serious condition that can affect a person both physically as well as mentally, but the good news is that it’s treatable. A person is said to be depressed when he feels fatigued for most of the day with feelings of worthlessness and guilt thrown in. He will usually have impaired concentration, indecisiveness, restlessness, insomnia or even hypersomnia where he could sleep away most of the day! There would be loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were earlier pleasant. Physically, there might be significant weight gain or weight loss, aches and pains, cramps and digestive problems that don’t go away with treatment.

Aside from above symptoms of depression, there may also be manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder. No two patients have the same set of symptoms or extent of symptoms. Depression due to use of drugs or due to medical conditions such as hypothyroidism aren’t treated as clinical depression.

Depression can be seen in various stages of growing up too which doesn’t automatically mean your child has depression. It’s only when your child continues feeling ‘blue’ most days and stops wanting to go out, have fun or indulge in his favorite foods, that depression might be considered as an issue. Sometimes continuous disruptive behavior at school, home or with friends might also be indicative of depression.

When it comes to your teenager, it can get a little tough as these kids are learning to deal with a changing body, hormones and a host of different things. If they continue being unhappy and reclusive and not eating well for than two weeks, maybe it’s time for a chat with the doctor. There is effective treatment available before the symptoms become too severe and parents need to be vigilant.

According to a study in the US, suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 10-24 years; unfortunately, this is because people don’t open up about their depression and close family members don’t pay enough attention. Left undiagnosed and untreated, depression in these individuals causes untold silent suffering and feelings of isolation that leads to suicide attempts in some.

Some of the types of depression include psychotic depression, post-partum depression, chronic depression, bipolar depression, depression due to substance abuse, depression secondary to medical conditions, masked depression, etc.

The important thing is to look out for signs of aggression, self-harm or talks about suicide and commit the person for evaluation and treatment before it’s too late.