Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympiad, had depression problems during his illustrious career. The Olympiad contemplated committing suicide due to depression. He claimed that after every Olympics he participated in, he fell into depression.
Depression is a chronic mental or clinical disorder that makes the person to get negative thoughts and moods. It is also associated with the individual acting in a negative way. The disorder affects all ages. It affects the individual both physically and mentally. The risk factors for depression include drug and alcohol abuse, family history of depression, past extreme trauma or stress, diseases and medication.
Symptoms of depression
Most people experience some or most of the symptoms below. The most common is the first one. The symptoms gravity and rate of occurrence vary according to the individual, type of depression and the stage of depression.
- Being sad persistently and having a negative mood
- Being pessimistic and hopeless.
- Having feelings of being wrong, sinful or self-condemnation.
- Not finding any worthy activity or hobby
- Fatigue and being sapped of energy often
- Being irritable often
- Reduced activity, speech and movement
- Being uneasy and restive
- Having insomnia and oversleeping
- Having difficulty in remaining attentive and remembering things.
- Change in appetite and weight
- Contemplating suicide or death or even attempting suicide
- Undiagnosed gut problems, pains and aches which do not subside with treatment
Forms of depression
- Dysthymia/ persistent depressive disorder is a long lasting (over 2 years) periods of alternative episodes of major depression and less serious depression.
- Perinatal Depression is depression that affects a pregnant woman or during the postnatal period. It is different and graver than the depressive symptoms experienced immediately after delivery. The latter normally clears after 2 weeks and is sometimes referred to as baby blues. Both are characterized by sadness, anxiety and fatigue but for the former the symptoms are more severe.
- Psychotic depression is characterized by a combination of extreme depression and either hallucinations or delusions. Delusions often have a subject which include the thoughts of being poor, sick or guilty
- Seasonal affective disorder is a recurring depression which mainly starts during the periods of extreme cold weather and less sunshine like in winter and eases off during periods with favorable weather and sunlight. During those harsh times the person experiences sleep disorders, withdrawal and weight problems.
Other conditions that can cause depressive symptoms include bipolar disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.
How to deal with depression
Be active and have regular exercise
Like Phelps he was always depresses when there was less activity and competition. Being active gives your brain less time for negative thought.
Be with and Talk to other people
Michael Phelps talked about it on international channels. You might not be able to do it internationally but talking to other people about it or about most things will give you less time to be negative.
Have achievable targets
Setting unrealistic targets where most of the time you don’t achieve is a major cause of being negative. Always set targets that you can achieve and congratulate yourself once you achieve them.
Learn more about depression
Learning more about the causes, treatment and how to deal with depression will go a long way in improving how you deal with depression. Talk always to your doctor about depression and also know that medication does not work the same way with different people
Defer major decisions and activities
If you are planning major decisions like marriage, divorce, moving jobs, moving homes and others kindly defer them until depression subsides. This is because these changes may affect you or your loved ones more negatively. As you plan these decisions kindly iterate with your close family and friends and get their views about the decision.
Know that depression improves with time
Depression in a chronic disorder that with management improves gradually. This gives you a lift once you see signs of improvement. Celebrating these small gains helps to give you the impetus to work more on depression.
Treatment and therapy for depression
Treatment for depression is possible if started early. The methods below can be used in isolation or in a combination to treat depression.
Medication for treating depression
Depression is treated with antidepressants. These medication help your body utilize and regulate the hormones and neurotransmitters that cause depression. The doctor will advise you to use a drug that helped any other family member that was affected or change the drug until you get the right one for you. Improvements are seen with time with appetite, sleep and concentration being the first to improve. Within 2 to 4 weeks the moods also start to brighten. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) help improve depression.
These medication are taken for a long time and should be continued until the doctor says otherwise. This is because one can get withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the drugs. It is recommended that a person with depression should not prescribe antidepressants or start using drugs not approved by the FDA such as St. John’s wort.
It is also recommended that people especially young people or pregnant women should be closely watched when using antidepressants. This is because for young people they may cause suicidal tendencies and for pregnant women the safety of the baby should be considered.
Counselling, interpersonal therapy (IPT), problem-solving therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT) are some of the psychotherapies that can be used to help depressed people. These therapy techniques work on discerning and alter the troubling emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. Psychotherapies work especially with severe or long term stressing situations or when a family member is affected by depression. The psychotherapy are done by a qualified professional in a group or alone.
Brain Stimulation Therapies
With the current technological advancements we are able to pinpoint the brain regions that affect mood. These brain areas include the amygdala, thalamus and hippocampus. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are the other treatment method that can be applied if medications are not working. These therapies work more rapidly than medications. The painless therapy is currently performed as an outpatient therapy unlike before where a patient had to be admitted.
The treatment however has some side effects which are also experienced in medications. The side effects of ECT include disorientation, memory loss and confusion. These side effect normally are not long lasting. However the physician always talks to the patient about the benefits and side effects for informed choice.
The other brain stimulation therapies currently being used include repetitive magnetic stimulation.
Depression affects so many people in the world. It affects celebrities like Michael Phelps and so many others. Depression has caused several deaths and disabilities. Therefore because it affects the population lowly and mighty there is no shame in talking about it. Depression is treatable or at least managed. We should thus talk more about it.