“I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell, I know right now you can’t tell.” These lyrics from the Matchbox 20 song, “Unwell” are a good representation of someone who has depression. Everyone experiences sadness and anxiety at some point in their lives. All humans have these feelings, as they are a part of the way human brains function. Depression, however, takes this to a much more intense level. Depression is a mental illness that affects the feelings and thoughts of an individual (Fernandez 19).
The multiple causes of depression can produce a variety of symptoms which can be treated in many ways.
The most common causes of depression include emotional stress, genetics, and drugs (Gurung 650). Chronic stress is one major cause of depression caused “by the overactivity of the body’s stress-response mechanism.” (Hunt 1). Stressful life events such as losing a job, divorce, or loss of a loved one are all common triggers for depression (Hunt 1). Genetics also plays a part in the mental illness.
If an individual has one or more family members that are known to have mental illness, that person is at a greater risk of having depression as well (Fernandez 21). Drugs can play a major role when it comes to depression as well. Twenty percent of Americans who suffer from depression also have a substance abuse issue (Cash 39). Because alcohol gives people a temporary feeling of relaxation and euphoria, it is common for people to turn to alcohol when they are depressed which may easily lead to alcoholism and other health problems as a result.
Drugs may make one feel at ease for a short amount of time, but the need to feel relaxed grows over time, which can lead to addiction.
Depression can also be triggered by big physical changes such as puberty or pregnancy (Regan 648). Postpartum depression is the onset of depression after giving birth (Radoslav 23). According to the International Review of Psychiatry, “The average prevalence rate of non-psychotic postpartum depression is 13%”. Marital issues, no support from friends or family, and a history of psychological disturbance during pregnancy all contribute to postpartum depression (Radoslav 31). The transition from childhood to adolescence had been recognized as a possible risk factor for depression (Winer 1375). This is especially true for children who start puberty earlier or later than average (Winer 1375).
The symptoms of depression are not always noticeable on the outside but are more commonly characterized by feelings of hopelessness, lethargy, feelings of worthlessness or unrealistic guilt (Cash 37). Often times, people with depression focus on the negative aspects of their lives and dwell on only that for long periods of time. These feelings can lead into thoughts of self harm and even suicide. Another signal of depression may be a significant decrease of motivation or constant tired feeling (Regan 648). Individuals who have these feelings should seek the help of a mental health professional for an evaluation (Cash 38).
Symptoms, although less common can also include poor hygiene and self care such as not taking showers, doing laundry, or brushing teeth. Other physical symptoms include a sudden loss of appetite or increase in appetite which can cause someone to lose or gain a significant amount of weight. People with depression may also isolate themselves from friends and family and stay away from social situations. If the individual attends high school or college, a common warning sign is noticeably decreased effort put into school work and a decline in grades. If someone is battling depression, they might cause more trouble at school such as getting into fights with peers and acting rude and disrespectful (Fernandez 21).
There are a wide range of options available for the treatment of depression. The most common include therapy and medication. According to the Encyclopedia of Sociology, “Cognitive therapists focus on the thoughts of the person who is receiving treatment and try to break the cycle of negative automatic thoughts and negative self views.” (Regan 649). During a therapy session, in order to help the patient, the therapist attempts to understand the thoughts and way of thinking of the individual (Regan 652). The number of therapy sessions required to see results depends on the individual’s willingness to get better and the severity of depression (Regan 655).
The other common form of depression treatment is medication. Antidepressant medications have been proven to be effective when it comes to the treatment of depression (Regan 653), but they come with a catch. According to the Encyclopedia of Sociology, “Common side effects include dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, blurred vision, ringing in ears, retention of urine, and excessive sweating” (Regan 653). However, there is an alternative to antidepressant pills. Research shows medicinal herbs such as St. John’s wort, ginkgo, and caffeine can also reduce depression (Regan 653).