There’s more to depression as a serious disease than most people would admit.
Unlike high blood pressure, depression, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorder among others, post-traumatic ailments may not be a silent killer but have equal, if not more debilitating effect, on one’s daily life.
Reportedly, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), world over depression is the leading cause for sickness and disability. Unfortunately, very often, a person suffering from it is unable to fathom as to what exactly is happening. One tends to lose all interest in life’s daily chores for no apparent reason. Depression also sometimes manifests itself as ‘fear of the unknown’.
Loss of near and dear ones, business failure or some major disappointment in one’s life may also trigger these disorders, often even months after the whole episode. A person, otherwise quite healthy, for no apparent reason loses all vitality and interest in an activity which normally he enjoyed doing so. In more serious cases, the person so afflicted may even start contemplating suicide.
Medical evidence so far suggests the cause to be genetic predisposition or chemical imbalance in one’s brain. Unfortunately, unlike other diseases, such as diabetes, cardiac problem or cancer, there are no markers in the brain which can guide a regime for medication to be set up.
Often, the doctor has to rely on the patient’s experience and try various drugs, hoping that one of them would actually hit the target. The brain triggers release of no less than four hormones for a human being to feel happy and help maintain his/her vitality. The first of these hormones, dopamine, is released whenever one acquires what one desires in life, such as a new car, clothes or achieve certain goal or target in his/her business or workplace. This is some sort of a ‘reward’ hormone.
When one is physically active, say in sports or during exercises, endorphins get released to overcome the pain and stress the body undergoes. It helps one to enjoy such physical activities and provides them with an afterglow even after the activity is over.
Oxytocin is released whenever one interacts with others, socially. It is, perhaps, the easiest of the entire lot to do but often gets neglected due to fast-paced life when no one seems to be having any time to be social, unless it is some sort of a gathering or party. Addiction to social media and the constant use of mobile phones can sometimes lead to this disorder, even though apparently, one is interacting with another person.
Last but not the least, serotonin, which gets released when one does good to others, benefits the society in general. Being involved in charity work and looking after the underprivileged has, for ages, been a well-known remedy for depression. In fact, this is the hormone which most medications available for depression cater to and are touted as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). Most of these help restore balance of certain chemicals in the brain.
Of course, like any other medication drug, companies warn of a number of side-effects ranging from nausea to an increased sleepiness and advise gradual increase or decrease of the daily dosage. One of the major side-effects of such medications are an increase in appetite which could lead to gain of weight unless one keeps a careful watch on one’s daily food habits. Unfortunately, depression very often hits the older people who have retired from an active life, daily routine of a job and are yet to find a meaningful way to spend their once-active lives. Most dangerous phase is when after years of hectic activity, one suddenly finds most of his/her time in brooding over past failures and wrong roads taken.
What was welcome as opportunities when busy with daily grind of earning one’s daily bread, suddenly seems to be not so great anymore. However, it is important that one does not confuse happiness as the opposite of depression for one can be contented and happy with the daily routine but lose the vitality to try to do anything new or do something different from daily activities.
Often, a normally active and healthy person refuses to accept depression as a disorder and considers it as a temporary inconvenience or weakness, which would be corrected in the due course of time without medication. Big mistake, for it could easily turn into a serious handicap. Of course, some people do manage to get along with yoga and meditation without taking any medical care, but such chances are rare.
Writer: RC Acharya
Courtesy: The Pioneer