Mental health awareness - Unpacking depression
Depression is a mood disorder that commonly affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at school/work or home. Fortunately, it’s treatable. Here’s more
There are many possible causes, and sometimes, various factors combine to trigger symptoms. Depression can be genetic, meaning it can run in the family. Environmental factors, psychological and social factors also play a part. It can also be caused by other mental disorders such as anxiety or bipolar disorder. It’s important to note that only a healthcare provider can professionally diagnoise the cause.
Symptoms in females
Depression is nearly twice as common among women as in men. The symptoms include
- Mood swings
Some types of depression that are unique to females:
- Postpartum depression
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Symptoms in males may include:
- Avoiding families and social situations
- Working without a break
- Having difficulty keeping up with work and family responsibilities
- Displaying abusive or controlling behaviour in relationships (however this behaviour can also be present in females)
In children, symptoms can make schoolwork and social activities challenging. They may experience symptoms such as:
- Low energy
- Rebellious behaviour
- Vocal outbursts
If you suspect that you have symptoms of depression, you should seek professional help from a therapist or healthcare provider. A qualified health professional can rule out various causes, ensure an accurate diagnosis, and provide safe and effective treatment. Your healthcare provider may also conduct an examination to check for physical causes and order a blood test to rule out other health conditions.
Depression is different from sadness
The death of a loved one, loss of a job, or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences and it’s normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations.
Being sad is not the same as having depression, however borh may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from usual activities.
Grief and depression can co-exist for some people. Distinguishing between grief and depression is important and can assist people in getting the help, support, or treatment they need.
Not many people understand what depression is, this coupled with stigma can make it difficult to reach out for help. Therapy as well as prescribed medication are ways to cope if you are diagnosed. You can also reach out to national hotlines such as SADAG (The South African Depression Group) on 0800567567 and Lifeline on 0861322322
Mental health should always be taken seriously. Depression is a real but with proper diagnosis and treatment, you can overcome it. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, know that help is available.
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