DEPRESSION

Dr.Krishna Prasad Sreedhar

Depression has become a common disorder. It is estimated that more women than men suffer this malady. Depression is considered a dangerous disorder because 50% of depressed people tend to commit suicide. Is not human life valuable? Thus shouldn’t we help these innocent victims?

Even a common sense idea of depression can help you to help others.

What are the symptoms of Depression?

There are several kinds of depressions. Thus some common symptoms are given here.

Many depressed people suffer all or some of the following.

1. Persistent sad mood

2. Difficulty in concentration

3. Unusual forgetfulness

4. Slowness in actions

5. Slowness in thinking

6. Extreme pessimism

7. Feeling of worthlessness

8. Recurrent suicidal thoughts

9. Feeling of not being loved by anybody

10. Feeling that one cannot love anybody

11. Feeling that life has no meaning

12. Low drive or motivation

13. Unexplained feeling of fatigue

14. Rapid gain or loss of body weight

15. Inability to experience appetite

16. Sleep disturbances (especially during early morning hours)

17. Thumping of the heart (Palpitation)

18. Disturbances in the stomach (gas trouble, loose motion, constipation)

19. Intolerance to sound

20. Startle reaction

21. Crying spells

22. Increased sensitivity

23. Unexplained feelings of guilt

If anybody around you shows at least a few of the symptoms, persuade the person to see a Psychiatrist or a Clinical Psychologist. This is especially necessary if the person directly or indirectly talks to you about suicide or gives you the impression that life has no meaning. It has been observed that many patients have intentionally or casually mentioned to their friends or relatives their intention to commit suicide. Many have taken it lightly only to pay a big price later. Thus if you feel that somebody is depressed and talks of suicide, do not take it lightly. However, you should not panic and become upset in the presence of the patient. Take the message coolly and act rationally. Do not elicit a promise. Instead persuade the patient to consult a Psychiatrist with the assurance that things will get better from day one onwards. The worst thing you can do to a depressed person is to offer advice like "These days every body is depressed and that it is all your own making…"etc.

What Is The Best Treatment?

There is no single method of treatment for depression as its causes are biological, psychological and socio-cultural in nature. The first line of treatment should be biological. This means the patient should consult a Psychiatrist and get appropriate drugs prescribed. These drugs will bring immediate relief to some problems like ‘early morning sleep disturbances’, lack of appetite, and ‘fatigue’. These improvements will instill in the patient a feeling that he is not totally helpless and that some thing can be done about the problem. Paradoxically, this is also the most critical period in the depressive phase. A deeply depressed patient is almost incapable of committing suicide as he is ‘mentally paralyzed’. Drugs remove this incapacity and facilitate the act of suicide. It is during this critical phase that a Clinical Psychologist could be of great help. At this stage a Psychologist might be in a position to instill hope and minimize guilt.

It has been found that social support from the family, counseling by a Clinical Psychologist and drug treatment by a Psychiatrist together work better than any single treatment.

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