Definition of Depression
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.
Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.
Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. (https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression)
In Malaysia, mental health cases have increases up 40% (read it in latest newpaper articles) due to concern in Malaysian citizens in recent years.
In newspaper excerpt following Mental health of Malaysian students cause of worry: Health Ministry causes me to worry more on my children development in coming years. Following are details of the paper excerpt
Experts cite anxiety and depression as the main causes of mental health problems among students although not ruling out the influence of drugs as a factor.
One of them, Dr Mohd Suhaimi Mohamad, said a prolonged state of mental health problems could make students become withdrawn, suffer from schizophrenia and develop the inclination to commit suicide.
The tendency to take one’s own life could become more severe if the mental health problems were not addressed within a period of two years, he said, adding that this was a serious matter that was often neglected.
Referring to the causes, Dr Mohd Suhaimi said anxiety developed from trauma, emotional disorders such as bulimia, developmental disorders such as hyperactivity, behaviourial disorders and severe stress due to family problems.
He said anxiety could be attributed to pressure of examinations that might instil fear in students.
“Low self-confidence as a result could cause a student to be in a state of worry and stress, coupled with the pressure from parents and teachers who drive them to be competitive.
“Besides studies, the fear of embarrassment over any matter could push students towards extreme consternation,” he told Bernama.
In a state of restlessness, a student would normally experience heavy sweating at all times and a pounding heart, inability to sleep at night and insomnia that could take a toll on his or her health if these were to prolong, he said.
“Depression, on the other hand, makes an individual isolate himself or herself from others,” Dr Mohd Suhaimi said, adding that the signs of extreme depression were sudden mood changes that led to extreme anger.
This could also occur due to heredity factors inherited from family members with mental health problems, he said.
Dr Mohd Suhaimi did not rule out the possibility of mental health problems stemming from the pressure from parents for their children to excel in the academic field.
“Parents should help their children live a normal life and not force them to study solely to meet their own expectations,” he said.
Dr Mohd Suhaimi said that once a child was diagnosed to have a mental health problem, treatment could be administered through the biopsychosocial way with an individual interacting with the patient so that the latter did not feel isolated and did not act aggressively.
“Besides, the administration of medication regularly can control and prevent a person from sliding towards mental illness,” he said.
He also said that the individual should be given guidance and support by those around him or her, especially parents, to rebuild his or her confidence.
“Parents should extend support and encouragement to children with mental health problems to prevent the condition from worsening,” he said. — Bernama