Psychologist explains how depression is more than just sadness and how its treated

It is important to know that Depression is more than just sadness. It could be the next mental health epidemic if we do not handle it with diligence says Samar Hafeez a Psychologist and a Certified holistic health coach. Because mental health issues not only impact you but also your loved ones. Also, the negative impact of Covid 19 pandemic on people with pre-existing mental health conditions has augmented.

The pandemic has increased the global prevalence and burden of Depression, it is sad to know that people with pre-existing substance- use disorder, mental and neurological issues have a higher risk of SARS- CoV-2 infection and even death.

So, how is Depression managed or treated?

It is hard to live with Depression. Around 80% to 90% people respond well to its management, and nearly all patients gain some symptomatic relief. A breakthrough study by Indiana University School of Medicine sheds new light on the biological basis of mood disorders (which includes Depression) and offers a promising blood test aimed at a precision-medicine approach to treatment. The study describes how the team developed a blood test, composed of RNA biomarkers, that can distinguish how severe a patient's depression is, their risk of severe depression in the future and their risk of future bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness. The test also informs tailored medication choices for patients. This is indeed a great service to mankind

Some of the management and treatment approaches include:

  1. Psychological treatments: Psychotherapy gives promising results in treating depression and preventing relapse/reoccurrence. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is the most effective psychological management/treatment. CBT helps people in understanding negative thought processes and improve their coping skills. An early detection and intervention is crucial to quick recovery. Psychotherapy may involve individual or group sessions. A therapist can teach life skills that help one deal with negative thoughts and emotions effectively.
  2. Medication: The main medical treatment for depression is anti-depressant medications, depending on the psychological evaluation and severity of the existing disorder. (Please reach out to a psychiatrist for further information).
  3. Get moving: We all know that regular exercises have varied physical health benefits, but few know its effectiveness in improving mental health. Exercise is proved to be as effective as antidepressants in some cases. Exercise releases Endorphins (potent mood enhancing chemicals) in body. And a regular exercise regimen can help rectify sleep cycle, sharpen memory and learning skills. You may also think you won’t enjoy something but, when you do it, you actually enjoy it more than you expected. So, executing something is necessary to succeed. Engaging in sports or list activities that you used to enjoy. It might be daunting at first, for beginners just a few minutes of exercise is better than nothing. Start with 5-10 minutes sessions 3-4 days a week than slowly increase. Meaningfully enjoyable activities will help alleviate depression.
  4. Restore sleep patterns: Sleep pattern is majorly disrupted in people who are depressed. In order to restore and break the vicious cycle one needs to follow some sleep hygiene practices which include: Maintain regularity sleep at same time every night and wake up at same time every morning, avoid smartphones or social media usage at night, avoid stimulants like coffee, alcohol, nicotine and heated arguments, say no to large meals 2 hours before bed.
  5. Practice mindfulness meditation: Most of our misery comes either from our bygone past or invisible future. Mindfulness teaches us the art of living in the present moment by avoiding judgement and by building a self- compassionate way of looking at oneself and others. It helps in tackling ruminating, negative and deviating thoughts that are often present in a person diagnosed with depression. Mindfulness based stress reduction therapies also aid in managing anxiety, chronic/acute stress, anger and irritability which might be present in people experiencing depression.
  6. Above mentioned techniques are some of the most effective and actionable ones. Always consult a mental health professional if you feel that your life is spiralling out of your control. Therapists are empathetic people who are active and reflective listeners with a non- judgemental attitude. Feel comfortable in reaching out to them for your own mental well- being and those of others around you. You take action now and get control of your life, because you deserve a better future.

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