Usually in our adolescence, we are exposed to many sudden and inexplicable mood swings as a result of our body undergoing various hormonal changes that prepare us for adulthood.
Aside from increased social pressures, the onset of menstruation, for example, introduces adolescent girls to premenstrual tension (or premenstrual syndrome) and the menstrual cramps, the former being a mixture of physical and psychological symptoms, including temporary weight gain, fluid retention, depression, fits of temper and the like.
Of these, depression is perhaps one of the most commonly identified conditions that both males and females attest to, particularly at the onset of puberty.
Depression is a term we colloquially use to pertain to any particular period of prolonged sadness and lethargy. Colloquial use would even allow us to call depression any ‘low’ point in between periods of ‘high’ or happiness. A popular one-liner, which many of us are familiar with, even goes as far as saying that depression is in fact simply anger without enthusiasm.
However, the real essence of depression is the fact that you can’t simply ‘snap out of it’, and that it has the capacity to disrupt your daily activities. It is characterized by prolonged sadness, anxiety, unusual mood shifts accompanied by a degree of irrational thought, pessimism, and is responsible for changes in the way we eat, sleep, or interact with other people that in effect incapacitates us from participating in productive activities.
Depression is deemed a disorder that requires treatment and attention first because it may be a cause for withdrawal from society as it gives a semblance of suffering, pessimism, and low self-esteem. Secondly, depression may cause changes in physical behavior (like eating or sleeping) that may disrupt regular daily activities or may be mortally dangerous for whoever suffers from it. It may also, in effect, harm interactions with other people, particularly those within the atomic community (like family and friends).
Lastly, the accompanying decrease in rational thought causes some people to eventually result to thoughts of harming oneself or even suicide.
Should you find yourself potentially exhibiting that degree of depression, it is best that you seek immediate help from a professional. The reason is because the many forms of depression, each varying in degree of abnormality it lends, are currently treatable. It will also allow you to accurately determine whether you may simply be suffering from a common or minor depression, which is a mild but similarly prolonged form of depression, or a severe or major depression.
What is severe or major depression then? Severe or major depression, which medical experts also call clinical depression, unipolar depression, or major depressive disorder, is a sort of depression that necessitates medical treatment.
This is because severe depression is thought to be a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. This particular brand of depression is recognized as possibly hereditary by many psychiatrists and specialists.
Doctors detect severe depression by particular behavioral patterns that emerge. The first is that of a constant feeling of sadness or anxiety. This may be accompanied by feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Another is when you feel lethargic, tired, or without energy despite the fact that you did not engage in any physical activity of any form alongside a feeling of restlessness. You may also feel a decreased capacity to concentrate and make decisions.
The more ‘telling’ signs that accompany the previous symptoms, which may be attributed to seasonal hormonal imbalances, strenuous physical activities, or physical sickness for non-depressive individuals, have a more or less social implication to them.
If you are suffering from severe depression, you may have a feeling of being uninterested in usual activities or hobbies and you may eventually withdraw from them. Changes in your appetite may also emerge, leading to drastic weight loss.
Another change is in sleeping habits, which may imply difficulty in sleeping, waking up too early, or sleeping too much. With these physically notable changes and the previous general symptoms is a prevalent feeling of inadequateness, hopelessness and guilt. Altogether, these may lead to thoughts of suicide or obsession over death and dying.
The fact that depression can happen to anyone including you, should be enough impetus to better understand depression. Understanding that people around you (and there are many of them) suffer from depression will both allow you to better interact with them, or, should you be suffering from it as well, allow you to benefit from support groups or other people who can better help you deal with the disorder and stop you from succumbing to it.
Overcoming Depression: A guide to recovery with a complete self-help programme by Prof Paul Gilbert
Beat Depression and Reclaim Your Life by Alexandra Massey
The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (includes Guided Meditation Practices CD) by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Living with a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone
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