Depressed Anxious Stressed
Each year, the 7th of April is celebrated as the World Health Day to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). The theme for 2017 World Health Day is ‘Depression: Let’s talk’. Everyone experiences depression, stress, or anxiety at some point or the other.
According to a report by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru nearly 150 million Indians have mental disorders! Due to the stigma attached to mental disorders, about 80 per cent of those with mental disorders starts treatment pretty late. A part of this stigma can be reduced by creating better awareness among the public.
Depression is more than just the feeling of sadness; it is a health condition that needs understanding, treatment and care.
Types of Depression
1. Major depressive disorder
A person with major depressive disorder exhibits an overwhelming sense of despair and hopelessness which affects his/her day-to-day life. He/she may show signs of profound sadness, irritability, social withdrawal, or lack of interest in activity that the person earlier enjoyed. The person may have disturbed sleep, be fatigued or tired, have a change in appetite and may get suicidal thoughts.
2. Chronic Depression
Chronic depression is less severe than major depression but lasts longer. People with chronic depression can function normally but seem unhappy always. Though they have more or less the same set of symptoms as those with major depression, they have fewer symptoms. If the symptoms last for more than two years in adults or one year in children, the person is believed to have chronic depression.
3. Depressive disorder with seasonal pattern
Sometimes, the symptoms of depression recur at the same time each year, usually starting in winter and ending in spring or summer. Hence, this type of depression is also called ‘winter blues’. It may rarely begin in early summer and end in winter also. ‘Winter blues’ often include the seasonal symptoms of fatigue, excessive sleepiness, decreased energy levels, increased appetite, lack of concentration, and an increased desire to be alone. The summer pattern shows seasonal weight loss, sleeplessness or decreased appetite.
4. Psychotic Depression
In this type of depression, people experience psychotic symptoms such as delusions (fixed beliefs) and hallucinations (false perceptions) and have profound feelings of helplessness. They may feel ashamed of their feelings and try to hide their psychotic symptoms. As a result, this type of depression is difficult to diagnose.
5. Bipolar Depression
People with bipolar disorder have extreme mood swings. Their mood changes from the ‘highs’ of mania to the ‘lows’ of depression. They can go from feeling euphoric and irritable to being down and hopeless. Such swings devastates their lives.
What causes Depression?
There is no single cause of depression. Some people are naturally vulnerable to depression, it may start with a significant life event such as birth, death, change in job or house, or after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Sometimes, people may experience symptoms of depression for no apparent reason.
How is Depression treated?
The most common treatment for depression is a combination of antidepressant medicines and psychotherapy. Electroconvulsive therapy, commonly called shock therapy may be tried in severe depression that is unresponsive to medications and psychotherapy.
Yes, with proper and timely treatment, it is possible to cure depression and regain control over one’s life.
You may feel anxious when faced with a problem, before a job interview, when speaking to the public, or making an important decision. But anxiety disorder is different! It is a serious mental disorder that can interfere with the normal functioning of a person’s life. Worry and fear are irresistible for those with anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety
1. Panic disorder
People with panic disorder experience a kind of fear that strikes suddenly and repeatedly without warning. The person’s heart start beating really fast. He or she may have excessive sweating and chest pain and have a feeling of choking. It almost feels like a heart attack.
2. Social anxiety disorder
This is also called social phobia. People who have this disorder are overconscious about their social image. They often have a fear of being judged by others and therefore worry too much.
3. Specific phobias
These are profound fear of a specific object or situation such as the fear of heights or the fear of dogs. The fear is often so intense and overwhelming, it may cause the person to avoid everyday situations.
4. Generalized anxiety disorder
This is an unrealistic worry or tension without anything to cause the anxiety. It can be an anxiety about work, social relationships, or financial matters.
What are the symptoms of anxiety disorders?
The general symptoms include a feeling of panic, fear, uneasiness, sleeplessness, dry mouth, cold and sweaty hands or feet, or numbness or tingling in hands or feet. There may also be shortness of breath and palpitations.
What causes anxiety disorders?
The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown. Researchers say a complex set of risk factors work here, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
How is anxiety disorder treated?
The doctor may use a combination of any of the following for treatment:
- Psychotherapy or counselling
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy
- Dietary and lifestyle changes
- Relaxation therapy
Stress is your body’s response to any kind of demand or threat. If left untreated, it can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or obesity.
Common symptoms of stress
Stress can affect your body causing headache, muscle pain, chest pain, fatigue, or sleep problems. It can cause anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, irritability, anger or depression. It may cause behavioural changes such as eating disorders, anger outbursts, social withdrawal, and drug, alcohol, or tobacco abuse.
Managing your stress can have many health benefits. You may try different stress management strategies such as:
- Regular physical activity
- Relaxation techniques such as
- Deep breathing, meditation, massage therapy etc
- Socializing with family and friends
- Setting time aside for hobbies
- Plenty of sleep
- Balanced, healthy diet
If you have taken steps to manage your stress but the symptoms continue, see a doctor. If you have chest pain, especially after physical activity or along with breathlessness, sweating, dizziness, or pain radiating to the arms, seek emergency help. It may be due to heart attack and not merely the symptom of stress.
The stigma attached to depression, anxiety and stress can breed dangerous misconception. People may avoid talking about it and suppress their feelings. This can worsen the well-being of the person. End the stigma. Get talking about mental health disorders.
Dr. Natasha Das, MBBS, is the director of PFC Pharma Focus India Pvt Ltd and a guest columnist for AllizHealth. She has over 17+ years of experience in the field of medical writing having worked with clients from India, Canada, USA, Australia, UK, Germany & Belgium.