Depression is a disease that can be treated well when taken care of early. Contrary to popular belief, depression is not just a “slack”: it is a real disease that corresponds to an imbalance of neurotransmitters, those chemicals that transmit information in the brain.
Furthermore, depression (also called a “Major depressive episode” in the medical literature) is not a rare disease. All categories of the population can be affected by depression: children, adolescents, pregnant women, seniors. There are however certain risk factors. A traumatic event (break-up, dismissal, bereavement, etc.) can promote development of this pathology. There is also a genetic vulnerability.
However, feeling sad for a couple hours or even a few days does not mean you are depressed. Depression is a disease that is characterized by specific symptoms: the most important of these is a constant feeling of sadness for at least 2 weeks.
The good news is that depression is a condition that can be treated with both medication (antidepressants) and psychotherapy (eg cognitive behavioral therapy). Treatments for depression are effective in around 70% of cases. However, it is essential to consult a doctor as soon as possible: in fact, the earlier the disease is treated (by a psychiatrist or general practitioner), the shorter the treatment and the lower the risk of relapse.
Depression is often characterized by persistent fatigue: the person constantly experiences a feeling of “lack of energy” which is not improved by rest or sleep.
Depression attacks the small pleasures of life directly. The person no longer enjoys the activities that they once enjoyed – going out with friends, shopping, going to a restaurant, doing a manual activity, reading, listening to music.
Depression suppresses motivation. The person no longer has the impetus for everyday acts (cooking, washing, dressing, going to work): he or she has to force him- or herself to accomplish them or does not do them at all. He or she no longer has plans and does not project him- or herself into the future.
- GENERAL SLOWDOWN
Depression is responsible for a slowdown, both physical and mental: the person speaks slowly, moves slowly, thinks slowly, has trouble finding his or her words, has the feeling that everything is going too fast around him or her, does not take initiatives.
In depression, sadness sweeps away all other emotions. The person feels constantly sad (for at least 2 weeks), they are unable to feel anything else, they cry easily for no obvious reason. The person feels “empty” except for this “black cloud”.
The person who suffers from depression feels “worthless”, “good for nothing”. He or she feels responsible for the condition; feels very guilty and judges herself harshly.
- SUICIDAL THOUGHTS
The person who suffers from depression may have suicidal thoughts: they will evoke the idea of “ending it”, will have the feeling that the world would be better “without them”.
The depressed person constantly feels anxious and worried, especially in the morning when waking up.
- THE PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS
Depression is often accompanied by physical symptoms: digestion disorders, sexual and/or libido disorders, sleep disorders (nocturnal awakenings, insomnia, etc.), weight loss or gain, chronic pain, headach
Mandell is currently working towards a medical degree from the University of Central Florida. His main passions include kayaking, playing soccer and tasting good food. He covers mostly science, health and environmental stories for the Scientific Origin.