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Understanding Depression - Frequently Asked Questions About Depression!

Dr. Praveen Tripathi 93% (146 ratings)
MBBS, MD - Psychiatry, CE (New York)
Psychiatrist, Delhi  •  8 years experience
Understanding Depression - Frequently Asked Questions About Depression!

Q. What is depression?

A: Depression is a common medical illness that affects the way one feels and thinks. It causes feeling of sadness and decreased enthusiasm/interest in life activities.

Q. What are the symptoms of depression?

A: The following are the common symptoms of depression:

  • Feeling sad most of the time 
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Repeated crying spells for no reasons
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy, getting tired easily
  • Negative thinking
  • Poor concentration
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Q. How common is depression?

A. It is one of the commonest medical illness and around one in six people will experience depression once in their life time. 

Q. How is depression different from normal sadness?

A. Feeling sad once in a while is normal however in depression sadness stays for most of the day and one is not able to feel good despite trying to do so. Even if a person cheers up once in a while, its very short lasting and gloom tends to return back.

Q. What causes depression?

A. Multiple factors are responsible. Changes in levels of certain brain chemicals such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are the main cause. Also, genetics is an important factor. Depression tends to run in families. Finally, any stressful life event can trigger the depression. 

Q. What is “smiling depression”?

A. In some cases depression is not so evident. Patients are able to hide it from others and may keep a smile on their face, however they suffer from inside.

Q. Is depression a dangerous disorder?

A. Not really. Since its easily treatable, it can’t be called as ‘dangerous’. However, it should not be taken lightly. Depressed patients can develop medical complications like high blood pressure, diabetes etc. Also, depression is the most common cause of suicide. So prompt treatment is important.

Q. If i am feeling depressed, does that mean i am  a ‘weak person’ ?

A. Not at all. Any one can develop depression. It has got nothing to do with being strong or weak. The important thing is to accept the problem and to work on it. If someone develops ‘high blood pressure’, we don't call that person weak , similarly, we should not presume that depression occurs in weak people.

Q. But i was a very ‘positive person’. How can i develop depression?

A. You are still a ‘positive person’. Thats why you have come to seek help and get better. Please remember depression is a medical illness. Once it gets treated, you will be back to your normal happy self.

Q. Is depression treatable?

A. Absolutely yes. Between 80-90% of patients respond to treatment. A combination of medications and psychotherapy (counselling sessions) is the best approach.

Q. Do I need to take treatment lifelong?

A. Absolutely not. In majority of patients, a course of six months to one year is enough. If one have had multiple episodes of depression in the past, treatment may be longer.

Q.  But antidepressants are habit forming and have serious side effects?

A. Totally untrue. Antidepressants are not habit forming. There is no possibility of developing addiction to antidepressants. However one should not stop them suddenly. Its important to gradually decrease the dosage of medicines before stopping it. The side effects are uncommonly seen and even when they occur they are mild such as acidity, stomach upset etc. You should discuss about the side effects with your doctor.

Q. But the google search shows a lot of side effects of medications?

A. Anybody can write anything on the internet. You should not blindly trust it. The list of side effects that you see on internet includes the ones which are extremely rare, so no need to get scared of those. The doctor sitting inside the chamber has put tens of years in studying about these illnesses and treatment. Please trust your doctor more than any random google search. 

Q.  Can i do something on my own to get better?

A. Yes, many things. To start with, go for a short ten minutes run everyday. Practice yoga or meditation. Try not to be alone. But most importantly, take medicines regularly and come for therapy sessions regularly.

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