• Opublikowane 16 Styczeń, 2017

Depression – ways to cope with it

When you enter “depression” in any search engine, you will get 905 thousand results. However, when you enter “flu”, the number of results you get is actually 776 thousand. The information of this kind as well as talks with others convinces us that the concept of depression is widespread.

Most of people understand depression as a state of low mood. From the scientific point of view, this problem is way more complicated. Data amassed by WHO denotes a significant increase of experiencing depression since the second half of the 20th century. It is estimated that 1% of people born before 1905 suffered from depression before the age of 75. On the other hand as much as 6% of people born after 1905 suffered from depression before the age of 30. Undoubtedly, statistical results might have been influenced by improvement of doctors' ability to diagnose depression. At the same time an intensification of stressors in the contemporary world is considered to influence an increase of experiencing depression. Our susceptibility to depression increases due to weakening of mechanisms for coping with stress. It is worth mentioning that depression, as any other illness, is dangerous when it is not being cured. A therapy begins with a diagnosis.

How to recognize depression and who can do it?

Psychiatrist, psychologist as well as general practitioner (GA) have no problems with diagnosing depression. These doctors analyze symptoms of the illness and use the symptom intensity scale to tell if their patients' symptoms signalize depression. Diagnosis is crucial because it is decisive element in the choice of a therapy that is going to be applied. Treatment for depression often includes pharmacotherapy together with psychotherapy.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression is an illness that affects emotional, motor, cognitive and somatic sphere of a person. The feelings of sadness, dejection, hopelessness and irritation are intense. The person feels unrelenting tiredness and lack of energy. In other words s/he is less active and energetic, and loses interest in things s/he used to enjoy. As disease develops the person becomes apathetic and indolent. One of the somatic symptoms of depression is insomnia. The person has problems with falling asleep, often wakes up in the middle of the night or early in the morning and is unable to fall back to sleep, or on the other hand s/he constantly feels sleepy. Sleeping disorders are often accompanied by problems with appetite. The person does not feel like eating or eats too much. Moreover, the person suffering from depression might feel anxiety and tension, s/he may also worry about the future. The feeling that previously easy tasks seem now difficult is another characteristic symptom of depression.

Coming down with depression is most frequent in late autumn and early spring.

What should we do if we observe some of the symptoms mentioned above in our behavior or in behavior of a member of our family or friends?

Step #1: try to notice changes in your behavior.

It is very important to find time for yourself, sit in a quiet place, focus and write down all of the visible changes in your behavior and since when they occur. You should decide how intense they are – on a scale of 1 to 10. Think of your mood, does it change throughout the day? Note it all down! People suffering from depression feel the worst in the morning, however, in the evening they tend to feel better and become more active. The information you collect will help you describe your problem to a doctor. What is more, it will be helpful while deciding on the best treatment. Pay attention to the way you think: think about the way you justify your failures, what you feel when somebody ignores your requests or remarks, what you make your happiness dependent on. Some research shows that people with tendency to depression often use phrases like: I have to, I should, and I am not allowed to.

Step #2: implement a remedy.

Take care of yourself, try to sleep well and also eat healthy and on regular basis. Walk outdoors in the fresh air, especially when it is sunny. What is more, you should pay more attention to your health because depression often comes together with other diseases, e.g. flu. Do sports! There is growing scientific evidence that doing sports on regular basis boosts endorphins which are responsible for producing a feeling of happiness. However, such advice may only annoy if someone constantly feels tired, sleepy and bored. So it is worth getting into a habit of regular exercise just to avoid appearance of the symptoms. Try to take interest in something or return to your hobbies.

Step #3: do not hesitate to see a doctor.

When you are more and more tired of your worsening mood, you should definitely contact a doctor. At first you should see your GA. He will decide whether symptoms signalize depression and tell you where to seek help. You do not have to have a referral to a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Step #4: conquer your fears and tell your family and friends about your problem.

Talk to your family and friends about your problem. Try to meet other people and listen how they coped or cope with a problem like yours. Loss of interest in friends and meetings with other people is one of the symptoms of an intensification of mild depression. The person find it difficult to initiate and keep up contact, s/he feels that s/he does not have the strength to do this. During a talk the person might complain, but s/he also may not say much fearing lack of acceptance. A talk about such problems is difficult, requires openness and patience, but as a result it helps to understand the person suffering from depression and helps to have a proper attitude towards him or her. The importance of such talks is visible especially in case of appearance of suicidal thoughts in the person's mind.

Step #5: do not ignore suicidal thoughts.

In most of cases suicidal thoughts accompany depression. Their intensity depends on the level of depression. Suicidal thoughts may take various forms, e.g. a desire to fall asleep and never wake up, regret about being born, a preparation of a suicide plan. The person having suicidal thoughts may reveal them, but may also keep them to herself/himself. S/he keep them secret due to fear of lack of acceptance, e.g. in connection to religious dogma. Suicidal thoughts are often accompanied by a sense of guilt. The person thinks that s/he is a burden to the family and wants to save his/her beloved ones troubles and worries. You cannot ignore suicidal thoughts and therefore you should undertake a proper treatment.

Step #6:  do not excuse yourself for the past illness.

Depression is mood disorder which entirely subsides, so it is impossible for strangers to identify it. This is why information you provide about the past illness should boil down to general info, e.g. I had problems with health.

We recommend the course book “Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think” by Dennis Greenberger & Christine A. Padesky to everyone who wants to improve on the quality of their life.

Written by: PhD Anita Pollak (WPiPS)

Translated by: Karolina Lejkowska

 

Bibliography

  1. Koszewska I., Habrat E., (2000). Depresja jest przemijająca. Poradnik dla chorych i ich rodzin. Warszawa: Instytut Psychiatrii i Neurologii
  2. Meyer R., (2003). Psychopatologia. Gdańsk: Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne

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