Depression is a common mental illness. It occurs in about 10-20% people in their lifetime. It is twice as common in females as compared to males. The usual age of onset is late twenties and early thirties. The common symptoms of depression are –
Sadness of mood
- Lack of interest in pleasurable activities.
- Lack of energy, tiredness, fatigue.
- Low self confidence.
- Decreased sleep.
- Decreased appetite, weight loss.
- Slowed speech, body movement and thinking.
- Worthlessness or guilt feeling.
- Problem with attention and concentration, forgetfulness.
10. Suicidal ideas and attempts.
11. Decreased sexual interest.
Symptoms should be present most of the times of the day and at least for 2 weeks for the diagnosis of depression. The number of symptoms in patient will vary according to severity of depression.
Depression may occur following a stressful life event like death in the family, financial loss, loss of job, failure in exams etc. however, every time it is not necessary to have any reason. Depression may occur without any reason, due to biochemical charges in brain. Depression is also a commonly seen in patients with chronic physical illness like diabetes, hypertension, paralysis, arthritis, asthma, thyroid problems etc. depression is also seen as hereditary illness in some families.
Depression usually last for 9-10 months and may improve its own. However in some patients it may persist. It is also a recurrent illness. There is no definite time period of recurrence. It may occur in months to years.
Treatment of depression includes antidepressant drugs. Large numbers of such drugs are available. Patient gradually improves with drugs. Drugs take 2-3 weeks to start its antidepressant effects and complete recovery may take up to 3 months. After recovery treatment should be continued for 6 months and then gradually treatment is usually discontinued. Drugs are able to help up to 80% of the patients.
Some patients who do not improve with drugs get good response with Electro Convulsive Therapy. Usually 6-8 treatments are enough to improve the patients. It is a very good and safe method of treatment. However, after ECT drugs are to be taken to prevent the recurrence of symptoms.
Psychotherapy is also a good treatment of depression. It is mainly effective in mild to moderate grade of depression. It aims to change the negative thinking of the patients. It helps in patients who are depressed due to some problem or chronic depression. Depression should be identified and treated otherwise it may lead to suicide, loss of job etc. it should not be taken as if the patient is doing it deliberately. The family should be supportive and encouraging. This will help in faster recovery from depression.
Mr. X – 45 years old male, married an officer in bank came with the problem of loss of sleep, does not feel like eating, does not feel like talking to people. He does not feel like going to office. He feels tense without any reason. His self confidence was low. He became easily irritable on minor matters. He does not feel like reading newspaper, watching TV or listening music. These symptoms were gradually increased from two months. He was diagnosed to be suffering from depression. He was given medicines and in two months he improved. After six months his treatment was stopped.
Courtesy : Dr. (Prof) Vivek Agarwal