Depression is often misunderstood as just feeling sad. However, it’s a complex medical condition thought to be caused by a combination of factors including genetic, biological. psychological and environmental triggers. Here are some facts about depression, depression symptoms, and depression management that might surprise you. So let’s go and find out these facts.
Doctors diagnose major depression also called major depressive disorder based on criteria in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A depression diagnosis is made when at least five of the following symptoms occur nearly every day for at least two weeks.
- Depressed mood
- Loss of pleasure in all or most activities
- Significant weight change or change in appetite
- Change in sleep
- Change in activity
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Diminished concentration
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness or thoughts of suicide
To diagnose major depression, either depressed mood or loss of pleasure in activities, must be one of the symptoms. While the definition of major depression may seem simple enough, depression has profound and varying impacts. Here are some facts about depression that everyone may not know.
Facts about depression
1) Depression has different triggers
People have a higher risk of depression if they’ve recently been through a stressful life event, if they’ve had depression in the past or if a close family member has been depressed. Sometimes depression develops without any obvious cause.
2) Genes provide some but not all of the answers
The genetic predisposition to depression is becoming better understood and might explain why one person becomes depressed and another doesn’t, says Ole Thienhaus, MD, a professor of psychiatry. A family history of depression matters but it’s not always the only factor. For example, the heritability rate-the percentage of a trait that may be due to genes- of depression is only about 37 percent according to a study published in July 2018 in the Journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.
3) Depression affects the body headache
Stomach problems and general aches and pains without a clear physical cause can all be symptoms of depression according to the NIMH.
4) Depression might be a gut feeling
A study published in August 2020 in the journal Curious found a strong connection between gut health and mental well-being, noting that depression is strongly associated with gut imbalance. A varied diet including probiotics and prebiotics may play a role in managing depression. Although more research is needed.
5) Depressed brains may look different
Some people with major depressive disorder have changes in the brain that can be seen in imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
6) Depression is linked to other health problems
People with depression are also at higher risk of chronic inflammatory or autoimmune conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or irritable bowel disease. It’s unclear if depression causes inflammation or vice versa according to a study published in July 2019 in the Journal Frontiers in Immunology
7) Depressed people might not look depressed
Depression is a hidden illness says Jeremy Coplan, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York. Some people can seem upbeat and cheerful but inside they’re struggling with the symptoms of depression.
8) Exercise can help manage depression
Exercise improves mood state, says Dr. Thienhaus. He explains that exercise helps stimulate natural compounds in the body that can make you feel better. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days. We typically recommend that people with depression exercise develop a healthy diet and go to bed at a regular time. A study found that even one hour of physical activity each week was associated with a twelve percent lower incidence of depression.
9) It’s common to need to try more than one antidepressant
Many people with depression don’t get relief from the first antidepressant they try. That is expected because of unknown reasons. Different people benefit from different medications and some don’t find any benefit from medications we currently have available. According to Diane Solomon, people may sometimes need to try several medications before they find an antidepressant that works well for them.
10) Therapy is usually needed too for mild to moderate depression
Therapy and lifestyle changes are considered the first line. However, for moderate to severe depression, a combination of therapy and medication is often helpful. Sometimes antidepressant medications will be used first to alleviate depression enough for therapy to be helpful, Dr. Coplan says. But psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or other therapeutic strategies such as transcranial magnetic stimulation are also needed for effective depression treatment.
11) Depression is often experienced with co-existing anxiety
Many people who have one mental health disorder such as depression may experience another such as anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. “Anxiety can be as debilitating as depression. However, people may have lived with it for so long. They don’t realize they have anxiety”, says Dr. Solomon, who adds that women are especially vulnerable to anxiety disorders.
12) Depression profoundly affects people
Throughout the world, a February 2017 report from the World Health Organization stated that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world affecting more than 300 million people worldwide. It also showed an 18 increase between 2005 and 2015 in the number of people living with depression the majority of whom are young people, elderly people, and women.
So these were some facts about depression you might not know. I hope you have learned something from this post. For more articles, visit our website.
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