Depression is a major public health concern. It can affect people of all ages and backgrounds; women are twice as likely to suffer from it as compared to men. Depression does not affect the individual alone; it has repercussions on one’s family, friends, as well as work. There are also costs involved in terms of lost productivity and absenteeism from work, due to depression. People with a family history of anxiety, despondency or bipolar disorder or having alcohol or drug abuse problems are more likely to develop the problem. The condition also has a propensity to worsen as time progresses. It can substantially affect the individual’s life at home and in social circles. All of us experience depression at one time or another. It is in response to a situation, loss or a sad event.
Most episodes of depression last for six to nine months. When depression last longer or the symptoms go away only to return again, it is called chronic depression. Chronic depression interferes with daily activities; it also leads to a loss of interest in activities that are normally enjoyable.
Symptoms of Depression include:
A persistent feeling of sadness, isolation, feeling of emptiness, spells of crying, irritability, and lack of interest in things that one would have loved doing, lack of urgency, or energy, excessive sleepiness, or sleeplessness, hopelessness, decreased sex drive, dread of everything, aside from backache, headache, digestive problems and muscular cramps.
Your doctor will diagnose depression on the basis of common signs and symptoms.
A special questionnaire may be used for evaluation.
Your doctor will also ask about any drug, or alcohol abuse, or physical abuse, or physical illnesses that may have lead to depression.
In chronic depression, your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist, who may look into your health issues, home and work environments, loss of job, marital discord, or experiences that may have had a bearing on how you feel about yourself and others.
Blood tests may be considered for women patients, when there is suspicion of hormonal disorder.