Depression is common yet a serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think and handle daily activities such as sleeping, eating or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Having family members who have depression may increase a person’s risk, major life changes such as death of a loved one or change in job, major illness such as heart attack, stroke, cancer may trigger depression. However, depression can also occur for no apparent reason at all.
Depression can happen at any age but often begins in adulthood. It is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents, although it sometimes presents with more prominent irritability than low mood.
Depression, especially in adults can occur with a serious medical illness such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease. These conditions are often worse when depression is present. Sometimes, medications taken for these physical illness may cause side effects that contribute to depression.
Signs and symptoms of depression may include;
Emotional symptoms Physical symptoms
Overwhelmed. Sleep disturbances
Excessive or inappropriate guilt Headaches
Anxiety Significant change in appetite resulting in weight loss
Loss of interest or pleasure Vague aches and pains
The good news is; depression, even in the most severe cases can be treated. The earlier the treatment can begin, the more effective it is. Depression, however, when detected early may need OPD attendant and not necessarily an institutionalized care. Institutionalized care is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation therapies may be options to explore.
Up to 70% of depressed patients respond to treatment but fail to achieve remission from their emotional and physical symptoms. Incomplete relief from symptoms may increase risk of relapse m. Seventy-six percent of compliant depressed patients with lingering symptoms of depression relapse within 10 months.
What can family and friends do to help a depressed patient’s recovery?
- Don’t react with anger even though your efforts to help may be resisted or rejected.
- Advocate for their recovery, convey hope
- Seek consultation from professional counselors at any counseling center
- Offer to go with family or friend to counseling centers
- Emphasize that depression is very treatable
Depressed patients can visit these recognized institutions; Accra psychiatry hospital, Pantang psychiatry hospital, Ankafo psychiatry hospital or the psychiatry department of the Korle-bu teaching hospital for counseling, therapy and treatment of depression.
If you or someone you know has symptoms of depression…take action now!
By: Millicent Bema Darkwa
Source: Daniel Asare (psychiatric nurse)