Today, April 7,
2017, is World Health Day. For 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to focus on depression. Depression comes in many forms, meaning it does not look the same on everyone.
According to the WHO website, “Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living.”
- It is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.
- Depression among older people is common
- More than 300 million people live with depression.
- Women are affected by depression more than men.
Those who go through a traumatic life event such as losing a loved one, losing a job, psychological trauma, etc. are more likely to develop depression. Depression will also lead the individual to worsen their situation and in turn, worsen their depression. It causes a ripple effect.
Episodes of depression can range from mild to moderate, to severe. It is also distinguished between people who have a history of manic depression, to those who do not. Going without treatment can cause chronic depression, and also cause those living with it, to relapse over time.
- depressed mood
- loss of interest and enjoyment
- reduced energy
- disturbed sleep
- loss of appetite
- feelings of guilt or low self-worth
- poor concentration
- medically unexplained symptoms
Mild: A Mild depressive episode causes an individual to have difficulty continuing their regular daily activities such as working and being social. They will, more than likely, continue to function.
Severe: A Severe depressive episode will cause an individual to quit those daily activities, with some attempting suicide.
There are programs in place to help prevent or reduce depression. Community programs include school-based programs that help young children, adolescents, and teens enhance their positive thinking and behavior. Exercise programs for older adults have also proven to help prevent depression.
Healthcare providers may offer psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral activation, interpersonal psychotherapy, or antidepressants. However, they should remain aware of the possible effects associated with antidepressants and the inability to deliver intervention based on individual preferences.
Other psychological treatment includes individual and group treatments or therapy delivered by a professional.
According to Mayo Clinic, postpartum depression is the onset of depression after childbirth. It can become a confusing period of time because most women mistake postpartum depression for baby blues. Baby blues are mild and can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks after the baby is born.
Baby blues symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Reduced concentration
- Appetite problems
- Trouble sleeping
Unfortunately, postpartum depression lasts much longer than baby blues and the symptoms are more severe and prevalent. It interferes with a mother’s ability to care for herself and her child. It may also develop months after childbirth. Those symptoms include
- Depressed mood/severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduce interest in daily activities
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
The worst case of postpartum depression is called postpartum psychosis. It is rare, typically develops within a week of delivery, and is severe. Mothers who experience postpartum psychosis attempt to harm themselves or their baby, are often confused and disoriented, have obsessive thoughts about their baby, hallucinate, and are paranoid.
If you are feeling any of the symptoms listed above, do not be embarrassed to talk to someone. Schedule an appointment with your doctor, or mention it while you are still at the hospital, under the care and supervision of professionals. Those living with depression may not admit they are showing symptoms. It is important to be supportive, open, and honest. Do not wait and hope that it will get better for them.