Do you feel unusually depressed?

Experiences of depression or sadness are a part of everyday life. If however, they have gone on for unusually long or are specially severe, look for these signs –

Withdrawal from social activities, crying frequently, suicidal thoughts, waking up too early in the mornings, disturbed sleep, poor appetite, feelings of worthlessness, general tiredness, restlessness, lack of interest, blaming self for problems, preoccupied with guilt or health, low energy, slowed mental functions, reduced emotional response. In addition, suicide is a very real possibility in depression. So, one should be alert for any signs of suicidal thoughts or intentions.

The person may give direct hints of wanting to die, or may be seen to be making preparations – making a will, giving away belongings, collecting sleeping pills etc. Guilt and self blame, feeling of worthlessness and emptiness are more common in those attempting suicide. Suicide is especially common when an alcoholic or drug addict has to deal with a broken relationship. Suicide is more likely in those who have tried it before, specially if precautions were taken to try and avoid discovery and if violent means were used – e.g., fire. Suicide is more common when someone close to the person has died, specially a person losing his or her spouse, mother losing her only son. Old age, unemployment and physical illness make suicide more likely. When a dependent person loses his or her support suicide is more likely.


When to seek help?

If you should notice some of the signs mentioned above, and if you find that feelings of depression and loss of mental and physical energy are taking over so that daily life is disrupted, consult a psychiatrist. If the person seems to give up responsibility for himself and is barely able to care for his own basic needs, and if any ideas of suicide are expressed or suspected, seeking help must be immediate.


What causes depression ?

  • Life events, both positive and negative can trigger off depression. Examples of these are – losing a job, separation from a loved one, financial problems, marriage and family quarrels.
  • Non events can also cause depression – boredom at home or work, unemployment and retirement, losing one’s purpose in life, loneliness.
  • Heridity and personality make up can be the basic reason for the tendency to develop depression.
  • Physical factors such as changes or imbalances in body chemicals, illness, taking alcohol or drugs, certain medicines, or a poor diet specially in old age can cause depression.


Self Help For Depression

  • Taking a holiday, opening up to family or friends, staying healthy with regular exercise and a balanced diet, are all bound to make a person feel better.
  • Deal with the life event
  • Deal with the life non-event
  • Change the surroundings
  • Take a holiday
  • Talk to someone
  • Take regular exercise
  • Eat regularly
  • Do things you enjoy.


Treatment of Depression


Few people realize that depression is treatable. The psychiatrist or psychologist can help the depressed person in the following ways:

Psychological testing –The psychologist can carry out several tests, among them tests of personality, tests for the detection of psychological problems, tests for determining interests and aptitudes and tests of intelligence level. These can be very valuable in planning the person’s treatment.

Medication is often used in severe cases of depression, particularly when the depression is of the type caused by physical factors. It is useful in even mild or moderate cases to improve depression so that changes in life style can take place but must always be used under the supervision of a Psychiatrist


Hospitalization is necessary in cases of severe depression, specially when there is a threat of suicide. Electroconvulsive therapy may be required in severely depressed suicidal cases.

Psychotherapy involves working through the person’s problems and allowing him to express and come to terms with his feelings. A reassessment of the person’s life situation takes place and the person is helped to overcome blocks that prevent him living a more fulfilling life.

The results of self help with treatment always makes the outcome better as it leads to personal growth apart from being therapeutic.