Taking note of the inadequate treatment facilities for mental health patients and stating that India is the most depressed country in the world, and yet it spends only 20 paisa per month per patient in the year 2018–19, the Madras high court in India suggested certain medical health reforms, including establishment of National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences(NIMHANS ) in all the zones. It urged the authorities to address certain problems on depression.
· Lack of awareness & knowledge about the illness.
· Inadequate human resources (less number of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and nurses).
· Inadequate treatment facilities.
· Long distance to travel to get the treatment.
· High cost of treatment.
· Stigma attached to mental health patients.
This set me further into thinking about depression. I had been sad a number of times in my life with broken morale, giving up all the fight under adverse circumstances and not feeling like concentrating on anything.
Was it due to depression? But the conditions never got so bad and I regained my motivation soon without having to go to a doctor. We will now discuss about the topic in consideration i.e. depression.
What is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that involves a feeling of sadness and loss of interest. If these feelings and symptoms last for at least two weeks, it is considered depression. In reality it can last for several weeks, months or even years. It is different from mood swings that people experience regularly.
It can interfere with our daily work and result in lower productivity as we are not able to concentrate. If not treated on time, it can become a serious medical condition and with passage of time can get worse.
The problem has accentuated more during the Corona virus pandemic, due to the stress and anxiety involved. Due to the fear of virus, people are afraid to meet others and keep to themselves. It has become all the more difficult to express oneself and take help of others.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the main cause of disability worldwide and can affect adults, teens and children.
The symptoms of depression can include
· A regular, sad and anxious mood.
· Feeling of pessimism and hopelessness all the time.
· Reduced interest in activities and hobbies that one enjoyed.
· Loss of sexual desire.
· Change in appetite and weight loss or gain.
· Decrease of energy and feeling tired all the time.
· Difficulty in making decisions.
· Sleeping too much or very less.
· Feeling restless and irritated.
· Thoughts of death and suicide.
Depression can affect Women, men and children differently
Women are the main care givers in a family and the society considers it their duty to look after the children. They may feel they are not able to take enough care of their family along with their job.
During depression they may feel anxious or hopeless, have mood swings, lose interest in all the activities and withdraw from society.
Physically they may feel a decrease in energy, change of appetite and the resultant weight changes. There are more number of women with depression than men.
Depression can affect men adversely and they will feel angry and irritated over small issues. They may lose interest in work and hobbies that they had once enjoyed, their sleep patterns too may change like sleeping too much or not getting proper sleep.
Some may resort to drinking excessive amount of alcohol or may even fall into bad habit of consuming drugs. Their sexual desires too may reduce. The condition worsens if they don’t seek help.
Children with depression may pretend to be sick and refuse to go to school and if they go to school they often get into trouble. There may be mood swings and teens with depression may have symptoms of other disorders, such as anxiety, eating disorders, or substance abuse.
What are the causes of depression?
· People are at a higher risk of depression when they have a family history of depression.
· Some medical conditions such as chronic illness, pain and insomnia puts you at a higher risk.
· Certain events in life affect the way our body reacts to stressful situations like job loss, death of a loved one or divorce.
· Nowadays everyone wants immediate success and many people when they are not able to meet their objective consider themselves worthless and go into depression.
How can depression be treated?
It is very difficult to live with depression. If a person is given treatment it improves the quality of his life.
So the first step is to visit a mental health professional like a psychiatrist or a psychologist. The healthcare provider can make a diagnosis based on symptoms; they will ask questions about mood,appetite, sleep pattern and activities.
Once diagnosed, depression can be treated with medications, psychotherapy or the combination of two. It’s common to combine medical treatments and lifestyle therapies.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe certain medications like antidepressants which take 2 to 4 weeks to work. Antidepressants can have side effects, so discuss about them in detail.
People taking antidepressants should be monitored closely especially when they start taking them.
Speaking with a therapist can help a person learn skills to cope with negative feelings. It teaches new ways of thinking and behaving, thereby changing habits that may be contributing to depression.
Exposure to white light can help in improving symptoms of depression.
Acupuncture and some herbal supplements are also used to treat depression. But a healthcare provider should always be consulted before taking supplements.
Vitamins are important for many body functions. Research suggests two vitamins are especially useful for easing symptoms of depression:
- Vitamin B:
When your vitamin B levels are low, your risk for developing depression may be higher. B-12 and B-6 are vital to brain health.
- Vitamin D:
This is supplied to the body by exposure to sun. People who are depressed have low levels of this vitamin. Vitamin D is important for brain, heart and bone health.
Exercise increases the body’s production of endorphins, the hormones that improve our mood. One should aim for 30 minutes of physical activity 3 to 5 times a week.
How can a person help himself during depression?
Depression isn’t considered to be preventable but once you have experienced it you may be able to better prevent it in the future by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking treatment that are helpful. Take it easy and do things that include-
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity improves our mood and health.
- Sleep well. Get plenty of sleep and go to bed at a regular time.
- Breaking up large tasks into small ones; set priorities and do what you can do easily.
- Carrying on with the prescribed treatment till you feel better.
- Reduce stress. Setting boundaries in professional life will help you feel better.
- Postponing important decisions of life till you feel better.
- Build strong relationships with others and participate in enjoyable activities.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. Drinking and taking drugs would make you feel better for a short period of time, but in the long run will worsen depression.
A new opening is the telemedicine services.
Telemedicine refers to consultative services to individual patients and the transmission of information related to care over a distance using telecommunications technologies. It incorporates direct clinical, preventive, diagnostic services and treatment; follow-up services; remote monitoring of patients; rehabilitative services; and patient education. It is the use of multimedia technology (voice, video, and data) to deliver healthcare services.
We have seen that by taking good mental and health care we can overcome depression. One should not be hesitant and take help from our family members; whenever necessary even consult a healthcare provider and move according to their suggestions to improve and prevent a relapse.