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Major Depression Disorder: A Perennial Pandemic

Major Depression Disorder: A Perennial Pandemic

They say that every coin has two sides. Likewise, the global pandemic of Covid19 has brought mental health into focus.

The data is depressive

The statistics are devastating. A survey in 2021 showed that almost 14% of Indians suffer from clinical depression. The levels are dangerously high among the ages of 15-24. One out of every seven Indians suffers from depression in the above-mentioned age bracket. Given the humongous population, that makes up nearly 18% of global patients with depression.

Denial and despise

Despite such alarming statistics, before the pandemic struck, the majority of the Indians believed in denying the very existence of depression and mental anxiety. Unfortunately, especially in rural India, mental ailments are connected directly with "insanity". The sufferers of mental ailments even endure ostracism in extreme cases.

But due to the Covid19 pandemic, urban India is becoming more open to accepting the existence of a far more prevalent pandemic of "anxiety and depression".

What is major depression?

Just as our body gets sick, our minds get sick or tired too. Major depression or clinical depression is a treatable mental ailment but NOT insanity.

It is a type of mood disorder. Clinical depression is a severe form of occasional depression. Occasional depression is the gloomy mood caused by the loss of a loved one/pet/family or coming from hormonal disorders.

Clinically, major depressive disorder is defined as a typical mood disorder with certain characteristic signs and symptoms that interferes with or disturbs the ability to work, sleep, eat, and do other daily chores.

Occurrence

Although already discussed, major depressive disorder is different from the common, occasional depression bouts. It has no specified age or time of occurrence. That's the main reason this depression is common even among children.

Symptoms of major depression

There are some characteristic symptoms of depression. The person may experience one or more of these mood swings. These symptoms are common across all ages and genders.

  • Unexplained feelings of anguish, tearfulness, emptiness, and hopelessness towards life in general.
  • Frequent furious outbursts, irritability or frustration, fights even on petty stuff.
  • Life seems dull with no interest or pleasure in regular activities like sex
  • Normal body processes like sleep and digestion are disturbed. Most people either sleep too much or suffer from insomnia.
  • Constant fatigue coupled with the stiffness of muscles is quite common.
  • Abnormal digestion either boosts or mars appetite, which often results in slight to severe weight fluctuations.
  • Permanent body aches with no explanations or injuries.
  • The patient becomes an "escapist". He/she often wants to end the state of acute hopelessness. They slowly drift towards suicide or drug abuse.
  • Thinking, memory, reasoning, and other brain functions become weaker than normal.
  • Overthinking and "mind-chatter" are the common problems reported by patients across the globe.

Although most people experience these symptoms once in a while if the emptiness becomes a part of life, then the situation turns scary. Apart from the above-mentioned symptoms, sometimes the symptoms are atypical to the age group and gender.

Analysts have found that age plays a major role in the expression of symptoms. Kids don't have memory loss like elderly patients. Teenagers become thrill-seekers and not recluses.

Some of the symptoms of major depression are enlisted according to the age of the patients.

Symptoms of major depression in kids:

Unlike other age groups, detecting depression in kids and teenagers becomes a little tricky as their symptoms are a little "commonplace".

Depression is more painful for kids because they are not aware of the "abnormality" and keep on battling alone. Some of the expressions of depression are:

  • Kids refuse to go to school or play outside.
  • They become clingy and cry frequently.
  • Most children often complain about sudden aches and pains.
  • The children usually become malnourished and underweight.
  • They find it hard to concentrate and retain the information.

Symptoms of major depression in teenagers

Most of the symptoms of depression in teenagers are very similar to the cliched "teenage tantrums".  They "feel" misunderstood and worthless. They rebel against the norms.

Commonly, these habits are related to the coming-of-age process in teenagers. But the frequency and magnitude of the impact of these tantrums point toward mental health. Teenagers often have these behavioural symptoms:

  • Most teenagers show extreme sensitivity towards trivial stuff.
  • The troubled teenagers look for a "change".
  • Such teenagers become daredevils; they often attempt dangerous stunts for "15 minutes of fame".
  • They also start doing drugs to bring some "action" to their stagnant lives.

Symptoms of major depression in elderly

The elderly among all the age groups shows the most recognisable symptoms of major depression. They often experience:

  • Faster loss of memories or thinking abilities.
  • Some may undergo personality changes like talking too much or staying grave silent.
  • Experiencing abrupt aches or pains
  • Persistent fatigue, loss of interest in social activities, waned appetite for food and sex.
  • Recurring suicidal thoughts and feelings, especially in older men.

What causes Major Depression?

The study of neurology is yet shrouded in myths and speculations. Still, scientists and healthcare workers are trying to decode the causes of major depressive disorder.

The causes of major depression cannot be pointed out clearly as the researchers are still experimenting with the paltry data at hand.

Some of the concepts that have surfaced in modern psychiatric studies are:

  • Neurochemistry and brain structure:

Human biology plays a significant role in major depressive disorder. People with the major depressive disorder show noticeable differences in their brain structures.

This may hint towards different brain chemistry and a little differently functioning neurochemical.

Current studies hint that even normal brains may have differently functioning neurotransmitters, or they may have sluggish production of neurotransmitters.

These neurotransmitters and their interaction with neural-circuits impact moods. Detailed study of these neurotransmitters can unlock a lot of information about major depression disorders and other brain functions.

  • Hormonal changes

The hormonal changes are found to be effectively involved in causing or triggering depression. Especially in menopausal women, hormonal changes trigger depression and anxiety.

  • Genotype

In some cases, inherited genes can cause depression. Although more research is needed to establish this theory, it is widely speculated that certain individuals carry such genes that make them prone to mood disorders. Sometimes, the patients have a confirmed family history of depression and anxiety disorder.

  • Accidents and prolonged illness

In some cases, accidents that resulted in amputation, and prolonged illness can trigger major depression disorder. Too much administration of synthetic antibiotics interferes with the natural chemicals of the body. This is further enhanced by confinement to bed/ward, lack of motivation, and proper diagnosis.

Treatment of major depression

  • Acceptance

Accepting the fact that you need help is the most significant step in the path of recovery. You have to accept that what you are experiencing is not a temporary mood swing but a grave disorder that needs to be fixed.

  • Therapy

Some people often avoid therapy due to the social stigma attached to it. But major depression disorder needs medical care and attention to recover from it. Some people find it expensive but seeking therapy for the sake of your mental health is much more worthy of the amount you'd be spending on it.

  • Medication

It has become a trend to troll the concept of antidepressants. More than often, you may have come across social media posts where people are asking to take a stroll instead of prescribed drugs.

Can you expect to cure pneumonia just by sunning yourself? Do you think taking a stroll is the right way to get rid of jaundice? If they need medical help so does depression.

The truth is taking a stroll, sunning yourself, may boost the process of self-healing but nothing can replace the prescribed medication. So, never let yourself be duped by such misleading trends

  • Find a purpose

Are you a doginist? Are you a bibliophile? Do you love baking? Explore yourself and rekindle your passions.

Find a purpose in your life to fulfil. It could be getting a fit body or helping the elderly of your community. No matter how small the goal is, keep working on it.

  • Share your journey

Sharing your journey with major depressive disorder is not washing your dirty linen in public. Speak about your acceptance and make it easier for others to come out of their closets.

You may be fighting alone but your victory will pave the path for other warriors too.

About the Author

Miss Jyoti Dhiman is a seasoned content writer, copywriter, editor, and LinkedIn strategist. She is keen to work in the arena of sustainable cosmetics, eco-ethical tourism, and guilt-free fashion. She is passionate about mental health awareness and loves to blog about it.