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 Psychological & Emotional Health

October 2011
Are You Depressed?
Dr V Muthukrishnan
An affirmative answer to this question can almost make a diagnosis of depression.

Depression is a common medical disorder. It is also an easily diagnosable and treatable public health problem. It affects both the sexes in all their age groups irrespective of their social status. However, women are affected more than men and attempt suicide several times more than men, although death by suicide occurs more in men.

The economic loss due to deaths by suicides and lost productive hours associated with depression is enormous, besides the emotional suffering.

The three major symptoms are: depressed mood or loss of interest, guilty feelings and suicidal ideas or suicidal plans. The bio-psycho-social symptom complex of depression presents itself with varying degree of intensity in an individual. Intensity refers to the frequency, duration and interference in one’s life or spheres of activities. It affects one’s personal life, family life, social life and mainly work.

Physical symptoms include
  • Sleep pattern difficulties (delayed sleep onset; waking up in the early hours of the morning)
  • Change in appetite or weight (decreased or increased)
  • Constipation 
  • Slowed speech and movement
  • Unexplained multiple aches and pains
  • Lack of energy and interest in sex
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
Psychological symptoms include
  • Prolonged periods of sadness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Hopelessness and helplessness
  • Crying spells
  • Guilt feelings
  • Irritability
  • Disinterest in surroundings
  • Lack of concentration
  • Indecisiveness
  • ack of enjoyment
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicidal plans
  • Anxiousness and tension 
Social symptoms include
  • Not mixing with family and friends and avoiding contacts
  • Not performing well at work
  • Less interest in leisure time activities
Seeking treatment
Depression can be mild, moderate and severe, impacting daily life with slight difficulty, significant difficulty and impossible to cope up with, at times. All these are treatable with drug therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. Seeking medical help from a health care service is the only solution to get diagnosed and treated.

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