Depression is a common mental condition. According to estimates, 5% of adults worldwide experience depression.
- Worldwide, depression is the most common cause of disability and a major contributor to the burden of disease.
- Depression affects more women than males.
- Suicide can result from depression.
- There is an effective treatment for mild, moderate, and severe depression.
Studies by WHO show that approximately 280 million people worldwide have depression. If you or a loved one has ever been experiencing persistent emotions of melancholy, despair, and diminished interest in formerly pleasant activities is likely depression. Depression can also induce physical changes in eating habits, sleep patterns, and energy levels.
At this point, you must understand that depression is not a manifestation of weakness or some deficiency in your character. Depression is a severe medical issue that needs medical attention. If you or someone around you suffers from depression, you must get treatment from a mental health expert.
Depression treatment options include counseling and self-care practices such as exercise and stress management. However, depression symptoms are manageable, and the quality of life, with the correct therapy, is, thus, improvable. However, awareness is the first step toward healing. Thereby let's together understand the signs of depression, its causes, and treatment.
What Are The Causes of Depression
What causes depression? While the precise origins of depression are unknown, various factors can be linked to its development. In general, depression is the consequence of a mix of psychological, biological, social, and lifestyle variables. Let us now delve into each of these variables step-by-step.
Traumatic Life Events
Major adverse life events, such as losing a job, dealing with divorce/separation, or even being stricken with a serious disease, can all induce depression. Especially those who are predisposed to depression due to genetic, developmental, or other personal factors are at a greater risk.
Research also suggests that because of their adverse living conditions and poor coping capacities, people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are more predisposed to depression. Therefore, due to age-related deterioration, loss of significant relationships, and forced relocations, the frequency of depressive life events may rise with age. Further research suggests that the way significant life events predict major depression nearly 25 years later differs for men and women, with men having a higher predictive impact than women.
Abnormal Brain Conditions
There is disagreement over which brain regions contribute to depression's severity. However, there is mounting evidence that numerous areas of the brain atrophy in those who suffer from depression. These regions, in particular, decrease in gray matter volume (GMV), causing significant damage to the brain tissue containing a lot of neurons. Moreover, GMV loss appears to be greater in persons who suffer from severe depression regularly.
On the other hand, changes in certain brain chemicals can give rise to depression. But, depression is not merely the consequence of a chemical imbalance, such as having excessive or too little of a certain brain chemical. Instead, disruptions in normal chemical signaling mechanisms between nerve cells in the brain can give rise to depression. Some causative factors for this include:
- Injury to the brain
- Genetic vulnerabilities
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Effects of drugs/alcohol intake
According to research, depression has a heritable component. According to a National Library Of Medicine, someone with a first-degree family member diagnosed with depression (a parent, sibling, or child) is thrice as likely to develop depression compared to the general population. In addition, according to some studies, women may be more sensitive to the genetic effects of depression than men.
Carrying a genetic variant for depression increases your chances of developing a disorder related to that variant, but it is not a guarantee. In certain circumstances, researchers often detect a gene variant but are unsure of its effects. Such gene variations are classified as under "unknown significance."
However, with that said, no one gene has been firmly established as the single causative reason for depression in research. A study published in Nature Genetics in 2018 discovered multiple genetic variations that appeared to be linked to depressive symptoms and, in some cases, structural changes in the brain.
Depression is a mental disorder that commonly coexists with drug abuse. The link between the two conditions is reciprocal, which means that those who take drugs or other illicit substances are more prone to suffer from depression, and vice versa. According to the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research), people with a history of mental illnesses are 25% more likely to drink alcohol. But on the other hand, they are 69% more likely to use cocaine and 94% more likely to smoke.
Depressed people may drink or take drugs to escape shame/hopelessness or improve their overall mood. However, alcohol or drugs can cause drowsiness by interfering with the brain's ability to focus, decision-making, impulse control, and response time.
Depression can be tough to tackle alone, and we understand how lonely it can get! However, you can take some positive steps to improve your condition until help arrives. Call it depression first-aid, if you will. Firstly, work on your self-esteem and inner resilience so that you can easily weather any storm. Next, you must maintain a healthy support system of friends and family and reach out to them whenever needed. Finally, remember, you must not hesitate to ask for help!
Depression can worsen if left untreated and prove to be fatal. So make sure you contact professional help to get treatment immediately! This is where we at Lifebulb can help. We offer a range of treatment options for all age groups at affordable prices so that nobody burns a hole in their pocket to access world-class mental healthcare. You can even avail of online or offline treatment per your preferences! So contact us now to get started.