Is Depression Overated?

Is Depression overated?

Is Depression Overated?

Depression. A commonly used term by many to term most negative or uncomfortable feelings we experience. Experiencing a bad day? Stressed? Annoyed? Frustrated? Or even Hungry? We often term it as ‘I am feeling depressed’. Have we ever wondered or researched what depression actually is?

Depression is something that affects many of us. It is not just limited to extreme sadness or despair that lasts for days; it can also have a profound impact on our daily lives. We may find ourselves experiencing mood swings, losing interest in things we used to enjoy, and experiencing changes in our sleep and appetite. The longer it goes unacknowledged, the more it can become a chronic condition, leading to further impairments and potentially pushing us towards extreme measures like self-harm or even thoughts of suicide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 280 million people worldwide are currently dealing with depression. When we think about it, that's a staggering number. It may seem like a small percentage, around 3.8%, but when we consider the actual number of individuals suffering, it becomes clear that this is an issue that should not be taken lightly. 

The common symptoms one may experience:

  • Depressed Mood
  • Loss of pleasure or/and interest
  • Frequent anger outbursts on trivial matters
  • Change in sleep
  • Change in appetite
  • Fluctuation in weight
  • Frequently feeling fatigued and body aches
  • Frequently experience restlessness, anxiousness or agitation
  • Feeling hopeless or guilty
  • Trouble focusing and remembering things
  • Disrupted thinking and decision-making
  • Frequent thoughts of self-harming, suicide or death

Prevalence of Depression in Modern Times

As time goes on, the prevalence of depression continues to rise, and we, as individuals, are becoming increasingly aware of its impact. In this digital age, where everything is accessible at our fingertips thanks to the Internet and social media, we often find ourselves self-diagnosing. In our quest for answers, we frequently turn to the Internet, relying on search engines like Google to diagnose our physical and mental health symptoms. Moreover, with the widespread use of social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, which continually introduce new features, many of us, especially young individuals, are enticed to try out the latest trends. These features may include measuring our "mental age," guessing how old we look, or identifying our positive and negative traits. Initially intended as fun activities, they often become a part of our online experience.

Social Media Features and Depression

What role do these features play in the lives of people, especially youngsters, who engage in self-diagnosing? Do we all perceive these features as purely fun and harmless? The truth is that many youngsters find themselves questioning their worth and identity when they encounter such features. Thoughts like "Do I look too old?" or "Am I immature for my age?" may arise, leading to unnecessary worries and negative self-perception. While some may dismiss these concerns as trivial, they can gradually grow into larger issues, causing individuals to doubt their mental well-being. As a result, many of us, particularly young individuals, resort to self-diagnosing without seeking professional guidance. When their test results turn out to be undesirable, they often fall into a pattern of overthinking, further complicating their mental health.

Furthermore, we often find ourselves self-diagnosing by taking online tests and labelling ourselves as individuals with depression. However, what many of us may not realize is that these online tests serve only as screening tools to gauge potential depression levels rather than providing a definitive diagnosis. Our eagerness to obtain results often leads us to rush through the questions without carefully reading and comprehending the instructions provided. On the other hand, we frequently assume that it is about constant sadness and tend to overlook the different forms of Depression. 

Below are described briefly on several types of depression:

1. Major Depression Disorder

Major Depression Disorder (MDD), also known as the classic type of Depression, is one of the most common and severe types of Depression. Individuals who suffer from significant Depression experience dark moods for at least two weeks, whereby they experience symptoms such as sleeping difficulties, fluctuation in appetite and weight, low energy, etc. These individuals may have thoughts of harming themselves.

2. Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), also known as ‘dysthymia’ formerly. PDD is a type of depression lasting at least two years, usually mild or moderate. Although individuals suffering from PDD feel void and low most of the time, they can usually perform their day-to-day activities. Individuals with PDD may also experience other depressive symptoms, such as sleep and appetite changes, low self-esteem and energy, or hopelessness.

3. Seasonal Affective Depression

Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD) is a type of depression that emerges during winter and fall, usually at the same time every year. Individuals with SAD will experience a change in mood that may result from alterations in one’s normal circadian rhythm, eyes’ sensitivity toward the light, or how their body’s chemical messengers like melatonin and serotonin function. Individuals with SAD might experience a drop in their energy levels when it gets colder or warmer.

4. Postpartum Depression

Pregnancy causes a significant shift in hormones among women that disrupts their moods. Postpartum depression starts during pregnancy and follows even after the child's birth. New mothers who experience Postpartum Depression usually go through anxiety, mood changes, and irritability; these symptoms are often more severe and last longer. It has also been found that new fathers experience depression after childbirth due to the new transition in their lives.

The reasons why one should screen with a trained therapist?

1.        Facilitates early identification of depression

Early identification of depressive signs with a therapist is crucial for all of us as it enables us to be directed towards the appropriate sources of help. It's important to recognize that some of us may require medication to stabilize our symptoms or may benefit from additional support from a psychiatrist. Therefore, by screening for depression during a therapy session, we provide the therapist with an overview of our situation, helping them determine how the therapy journey proceeds further.

2.        Leads to early interventions

Screening depression with a therapist is crucial as early detection of depressive signs would effectively facilitate therapeutic interventions and treatment plans. It would also assist the therapist in setting achievable goals according to our issue and the screened level of depression.

3.        Leads to better self-management & improved life quality

We recognize the importance of undergoing depression screening with a trained therapist, as it can significantly benefit us. When we are screened and receive a concerning score for depression, it opens the opportunity for us to learn valuable skills and techniques under the guidance of the therapist. Through this collaborative process, we can develop effective strategies to manage our symptoms, ultimately leading to an improved quality of life.

4.        Discover the root cause

When we undergo depression screening and work with a therapist to identify our depression levels, it enables us to embark on a journey of exploration together. By collaborating with our therapist, we can delve deeper into the root causes of our depression. This process involves considering the symptoms we experience, the duration of our symptoms, and the specific triggers that affect us.

In summary, depression is a term that many of us are becoming increasingly familiar with. However, the question remains: do we truly grasp what depression entails? If we find ourselves or our loved ones experiencing symptoms that align with depression, it is advisable for us to seek guidance and screening from a trained therapist. Opting for clarification and assistance from mental health professionals, rather than relying on self-diagnosis, is always a wiser decision.

“Let us create a society that understands depression rather than assuming.”

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