Recognising And Accepting Depression Is The First Step To Recovery

by | November 30, 2021, 19:51 IST


Depression is a common and serious mental health problem that negatively affects how one feels, the way one thinks and how one acts but it is treatable. Depression causes persistent feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can affect your emotional and physical health. It can also decrease your ability to function normally at work and at home. Here’s what Sana Rubiyana, Counselling psychologist, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru, has to say about recognising depression and learning to accept it to be able to get yourself out of it.

Watch For These Signs

A person is diagnosed as suffering from major depressive disorder only if he has these symptoms for at least two weeks. Symptoms of depression can fluctuate from mild to severe and may include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite-weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g. inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7 per cent) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6 per cent) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can occur at any time, but on average, it first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. There is a high degree of heritability (around 40 per cent) when first-degree relatives have depression.

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Grief Vs Depression

The death of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, separation or breakup are challenging experiences for a person to go through. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to build up in response to loss. Those experiencing loss might describe themselves as being “depressed”. However, feeling sad is not the same as having depression. Grieving is natural and is different to each one of us and it does shares some common elements with depression. Though both grief and depression involve intense sadness and withdrawal from the usual activities they also differ in many ways:

  • In grief, painful feelings come in waves, often intermixed with positive memories of the deceased. In major depression, mood and/or interest (pleasure) are decreased persistently.
  • In grief, self-esteem is usually maintained. In major depression, feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are common.
  • In grief, thoughts of death may surface when thinking of or fantasizing about “joining” the deceased. In major depression, thoughts are focused on ending one’s life due to feeling worthless or undeserving of living or being unable to cope with the pain of depression.
  • For some people, grief and depression can coexist and in such individuals, grief lasts longer and they also find it difficult to cope. Once we know the difference between grief and depression we can assist people in getting the help, support or treatment they need.

Effects Of Stigma

People suffering from depression don’t receive help for their illness at times as they have concerns about being treated differently or fear that they might lose their jobs and livelihood. That's because stigma, prejudice and discrimination against people with mental illness is still a major problem in our society. People with mental illness are marginalized and discriminated against in many ways, but understanding what that looks like and how to address and eradicate it can help. Stigma not only directly affects individuals with mental illness but also the loved ones who support them. Not treating depression may lead to dire consequences. 


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Effects Of Non-Treatment

Untreated depression increases the chance of risky behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction. Depression can severely affect one’s sleep patterns, leave one feeling hopeless and irritable and could even result in weight gain or loss. Treatment which can include medication, counselling, psychotherapy, alternative treatments or a combination – can help minimize these symptoms. Counselling and psychotherapy can help patients to address negative thoughts and feelings. Group therapy is also very important, knowing that you are not alone and that there are others too suffering from depression helps in the healing. Lastly, family and community support can make a lot of difference in this journey.

Early detection is critical for rapid intervention, which can possibly reduce the intensification of the disorder.

Also Read: Depression in Women: Understanding Women Health Better
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