In what ways can Depression manifest?

Continuing from the previous discussion, we have noted that depression as an entity is different from sadness or grief. It has some clear biological underpinnings that differentiate it from the others. But, what is evident is the symptoms. Major depression/ clinical depression typically presents with a characteristic cluster of symptoms:

  • Persistent and all-encompassing low mood
  • Fatigue and decreased energy or increased restlessness
  • Loss of interest in all pleasurable activities of the past
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details,
  • Associated anxious/ empty feelings or irritability
  • Pessimistic thoughts of helplessness, hopelessness, guilt, or worthlessness
  • Thoughts related to death, suicide and suicide attempts
  • Changes in sleep patterns, appetite (usually reduced) and increased physical complaints

While these are the common symptoms, over the lifespan, depression may present itself in many ways. This may accidentally lead to people stating that they don’t have clinical depression even though they are suffering and at times finding it difficult to function. Symptoms of depression in childhood may differ from the above mentioned symptoms in that there may be features of aggression, anger, excessive crying. Children may also manifest a more reactive mood as compared to the persistent and all-encompassing low mood seen in older individuals.

As children age into preadolescence and adolescence, there may be an increase in irritability associated with reduced social interactions and isolation, reduced or increased sleep, sometimes associated with increased appetite and craving for high carbohydrate diet. Typically, this is more than “adolescent problems” and is associated with dysfunction typically in the form of academic decline, conflict with authority, use of drugs or alcohol. Typically college going people manifest symptoms that include characteristics of symptoms found in both adolescents and adults with a general increase in exposure to drugs and alcohol use, and an increase in self injurious behaviors. As people age, there is a greater likelihood of emergence of physical symptoms of depression.

Keep in mind, that while knowing the symptoms of depression is important for you to seek help, self -diagnosis of mental health issues may do more harm than good. A detailed clinical evaluation by a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist is essential to make a diagnosis and start treatment.

-Dr. Shiva Prakash

Image credits: Anna Borges / BuzzFeed

The Light in the Woods

A battle is not without losses but a battle with yourself is always winnable, the only loss you suffer is the loss of all the drapery you hid your true self with.

It is hard to decide what to say or talk about in a blog like this. A lone pack is in its very essence as I understand it – a congregation of the lonely by choice and not. Perhaps the biggest victory will be to admit to yourself who you really are and take that understanding for everything that it is and everything that it brings along with it. This is the victory we all strive for after all, but most of us fail to achieve; we fail to achieve this for a variety of reasons only a few of which are true for each person. It is this victory that we all fight for and it is this fight that is the cause for most of our woe. A blog like this is supposed to resonate with everyone who feels like this and yet this subject is something so personal that it becomes hard to go beyond the specifics of my own life or for any other writer to go beyond their own experiences. Perhaps it is best to explain (again only in my own understanding) this fight we are all a part of. It is to do with identity and with acceptance of that identity. Who you see yourself as and who you project yourself to be. More often than not the latter is more important than the former, failure to give society and its views of you, due respect and consideration will yield catastrophic results, yes? But even if you were to do so and were golden in society’s eyes you would still not be content. Quite the opposite in fact – the little voice of self in the background that kept screaming in the background? Well now it ’s a cornered animal. You have ignored it long enough and it is going to take a bite out of you when you try to bury it.

And then, even after all that, even if you have magically survived burying your own identity to fit in with society’s cookie-cutter view of how a person should be, what happens next?

You feel empty. You have nothing that is intrinsically you. You cannot identify as anything or anyone beyond a cog to keep society moving. You live and you succeed, maybe even enjoy yourself, but you will always be empty and wonder ‘what if’. What if you had listened and fought for yourself. Now you will lose your balance because that line of questioning never ends well unless you are willing to undergo the pain and fight for it all over again. But this time fighting both for your identity and your own respect for yourself. But all this is only if the bite I talked about earlier was not fatal which more often than not it is.

‘What if’ is a rabbit hole that all of us enter at one point or another. You try to project your value based on something else to escape this darkness but that is what the darkness wants. Sooner or later you will realize how shallow your measurement is and by that time the darkness is even stronger. It will hurt you and it can kill you. You will go sleepless and you will be terrified but when you realize that the darkness is only a part of yourself that is starved for attention and recognition there is some hope. A battle is not without losses but a battle with yourself is always winnable, the only loss you suffer is the loss of all the drapery you hid your true self with. But then people might ask how you win a battle with a part of yourself that you have alienated for so long. I do not know, how could I ever understand what your circumstances are and even more importantly the perspective you possess of your own circumstances? But it is wrong to assume here that I cannot help you, that the people here cannot help you. When I write this I begin to form my own perspective of what lone pack might be. While I cannot give you the answers I will be able to guide you with my own experiences and show you things you did not know.

So lone pack then becomes a light; a light to shine things on and to show you what you could not see before, but it is not a map – your journey is still your own.

-November

What is the difference between Sadness and Depression?

Human beings experience emotions. The most common emotions that we experience are happiness, sadness, fear and anger. Of this sadness is a normal human emotion that we all experience in life when we experience something unpleasant – this could be related to a loss, or a disappointment or the like. It is important to recognize that sadness happens to all people but, it does resolve itself over a period of time.

On the other hand, depression is a complex neurobehavioural disorder characterized by a cluster of symptoms. Persons suffering with depression usually have problems that affect their feelings, behaviors, physical health and overall functioning. Typically persons with depression do not spontaneously feel better as in the case with sadness.

The symptoms of depression are varied – the most characteristic being persistent low mood that would appear to pervade all activities of the individual, a lack of interest in all pleasurable activities and a general sense of tiredness. Physically persons suffering with depression may experience problems with sleep, reduced appetite, increased fatigue, increased physical aches and pains. This may be accompanied by varied thoughts of a negative nature in the form of low self-esteem, not having a hope for the future, a sense of helplessness and so on.

Sadness is natural and fleeting. Depression is a medical disorder that will respond to treatment of a psychological and medical nature. Depression is one of the leading cause of disability as per the WHO. It is associated with significant problems with functioning in the form of not being able to do their work, chores or even studies. It can however be treated with proper help allowing people to lead a normal life once again.

                                  – Dr. Shiva Prakash

Image credits:White Swan Foundation for Mental health