Depression is a common mental health disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a complex and multifactorial condition that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, including their work, relationships, and daily activities.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India has one of the highest rates of depression in the world. As per the National Mental Health Survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in 2016, the prevalence of depression in India was 2.7%, with higher rates among females (3.4%) than males (1.9%).
The study found that the incidence rate of depression was higher in urban areas (3%) than in rural areas (2.3%). Additionally, the survey reported that the highest prevalence of depression was among the age group of 40-49 years (3.2%), followed by the age group of 30-39 years (2.7%). The survey also found that the prevalence of depression was higher among those with lower levels of education and income.
Another study conducted by the Indian Journal of Psychiatry in 2017 reported a higher incidence rate of depression in women (7.5%) than in men (4.8%) in India. The study also found that the prevalence of depression was higher in those who were divorced or separated (14.8%), followed by those who were widowed (9.5%) and those who were married (5.5%).
The incidence rate of depression in India is likely to be higher than the reported figures, as many cases go unreported due to the stigma attached to mental health disorders in the country. Additionally, there is a lack of awareness and access to mental health services, especially in rural areas, which further contributes to underreporting of depression cases.
Types of Depression:
Depression can be classified into different types based on the severity, duration, and specific symptoms experienced by the individual. Here are some of the most commonly recognized types of depression:
- Major Depression: Also known as major depressive disorder, this is the most common and severe form of depression. Symptoms may include persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and even suicidal thoughts.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder: This type of depression, also known as dysthymia, involves chronic and long-term feelings of sadness, irritability, and low mood, lasting for at least two years. Individuals with this condition may have trouble functioning in their daily lives and experience difficulty maintaining relationships and work.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: SAD is a type of depression that is linked to the changing seasons, typically occurring in the winter months when there is less natural sunlight. Symptoms may include low mood, irritability, fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed.
- Postpartum Depression: This type of depression occurs in new mothers after giving birth and is thought to be related to hormonal changes and the stress of caring for a new-born. Symptoms may include feelings of sadness, guilt, anxiety, and hopelessness, as well as changes in appetite and sleep patterns.
- Bipolar Disorder: This is a type of mood disorder characterized by extreme mood swings that alternate between periods of depression and mania. During the depressive phase, symptoms may include feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and worthlessness, while the manic phase may involve feelings of euphoria, excessive energy, and impulsivity.
- Psychotic Depression: This is a type of depression that is accompanied by psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations. Individuals with this condition may experience extreme feelings of guilt and may have difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy.
- Atypical Depression: This type of depression is characterized by symptoms that differ from those of typical depression. Individuals with this condition may experience an increase in appetite and sleep, as well as sensitivity to rejection and feelings of heaviness in the limbs.
Causes Of Depression:
Depression is a complex and multifaceted disorder, and there is no one specific cause that can be identified as responsible for all cases of depression. It is believed that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
- Genetic factors: Depression is known to run in families, indicating that there may be a genetic predisposition to the disorder. Studies have shown that if a parent or sibling has had depression, an individual is two to three times more likely to develop depression than someone with no family history of the disorder.
- Biological factors: Depression is also associated with certain changes in the brain’s chemistry, structure, and function. The levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are believed to be involved in the development of depression. Hormonal imbalances and other medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders and chronic pain, can also contribute to the development of depression.
- Environmental factors: A variety of environmental factors can also trigger depression. Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, relationship problems, financial difficulties, and work-related stress, can all contribute to the development of depression. Early life experiences, such as childhood trauma or abuse, may also increase the risk of depression later in life.
- Psychological factors: Negative thinking patterns, low self-esteem, and a tendency to ruminate on negative experiences can all contribute to the development of depression. People who have a history of other mental health disorders, such as anxiety or substance abuse, are also at a higher risk of developing depression.
Symptoms of Depression:
The symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, but generally, they can be categorized into emotional, physical, and behavioural symptoms.
- Emotional Symptoms:
- Persistent sadness or feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or self-blame
- Irritability or restlessness
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Physical Symptoms:
- Changes in appetite, weight gain or loss
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or oversleeping
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Headaches, stomach-aches, or other physical pains
- Decreased sex drive
- Feelings of agitation or restlessness
- Behavioural Symptoms:
- Social isolation or withdrawal from friends and family
- Decreased performance at work or school
- Difficulty completing tasks
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviors
- Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance
Complications of Depression: Depression is a serious mental health condition that can cause significant complications if left untreated. Here are some of the complications that can arise from depression:
- Substance abuse: Individuals with depression may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and cope with their symptoms. Substance abuse can lead to addiction and other health problems.
- Suicide: Depression can be a major risk factor for suicide, and individuals with severe depression may be at an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior.
- Relationship problems: Depression can affect an individual’s ability to form and maintain healthy relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners.
- Occupational problems: Depression can interfere with an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks, including work-related tasks. This can lead to decreased productivity, absenteeism, and even job loss.
- Physical health problems: Depression has been linked to a variety of physical health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain.
- Sleep problems: Depression can lead to sleep disturbances, including insomnia or excessive sleeping.
- Eating disorders: Depression can also increase the risk of developing eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder, bulimia, or anorexia.
Role of Neurotherapy: Getting timely treatment for depression is crucial to prevent or manage the possible complications that may arise. Many people with depression can significantly improve their symptoms and quality of life with the right treatment. One such treatment option is neurotherapy, which aims to help patients achieve a relaxed state throughout their nervous system, improve digestion, and address low levels of serotonin.
Early diagnosis and treatment of depression can prevent these negative consequences from occurring. The most common treatments for depression include medication, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy. However, some people may not respond to these treatments or may experience unwanted side effects.
This is where neurotherapy comes in as a non-invasive and safe alternative treatment option. Neurotherapy aims to improve brain function targeting specific areas of the brain. This can help regulate brainwave patterns, reduce stress levels, and enhance the overall functioning of the brain.
One of the benefits of neurotherapy is its ability to promote a relaxed state throughout the nervous system, which can help improve digestion and address low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, appetite, and sleep. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression and other mood disorders.