Depression is a serious medical illness that “negatively affects the way you feel, the way you think, and how you act.” Having major depressive disorder causes you to have persistent feelings of sadness and to eventually lose interest in your hobbies and other interests. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 3.1 million teens in the U.S. aged 12-17 have had at least one major depressive episode, with adolescent females having higher numbers compared to males. Depression is common and can be treated by modern medicine and psychotherapy sessions.
What causes depression?
According to Harvard Health Publishing, depression is not simply a result of a chemical imbalance but is more of a complex reaction to stress, taking certain medications, medical problems, and even genetic vulnerability. Depression may cause billions of chemical reactions in your brain to react differently to stressful situations, therefore affecting your overall mood and how you perceive and experience your life. Studies even suggest that some individuals are more prone to suffer from depression due to the presence of certain genes.
The manifestations of depression may be different for each person. Here are some common symptoms to name a few:
- The consistent feeling of sadness
- Feeling hopeless
- Loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy
- Having suicidal thoughts
- Feeling intolerant of others
- Increased/decreased appetite
- Loss of libido
- Sleep problems
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
- Lack of energy
- Always feeling guilty
- Drug and alcohol abuse
Depression differs from grief since the latter is a natural reaction to a negative incident in your life. Extreme feelings of sadness usually come and go and most people usually move on with their lives. Having depression may cause you to feel constantly sad and have a negative outlook on your life.
Women and depression
Women are twice as likely to develop depression than men, particularly young women aged 14-25 years old. This number, however, decreases with age as both men and women undergo the different stages in their lives. What makes women more susceptible to developing depression may be connected to the hormonal changes that their bodies go through as they age, particularly:
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder – PMDD is a combination of “severe depression symptoms, irritability, and tension” before menstruation. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is seen to be a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Postpartum depression – PPD is a mood disorder that affects women who recently gave birth. There is no singular cause for postpartum depression but the sudden drop of hormones after childbirth may trigger some symptoms.
- Perimenopause – women who are transitioning to the final stages of menopause are at risk of depression or may suffer from mood swings caused by hormonal changes in their bodies.
If you feel that you are suffering from depression, seek support from your family and trusted friends. Book a session with a psychiatrist who may be able to guide you through your recovery process. Never take any form of medication without the proper prescription of a health professional. There are also hotlines where you can seek out support from professionals or if you simply need someone to talk to like HOPELINE (02) 8804.4673; (0917) 558.4673 or 2919 for Globe subscribers.