Depression: Suffering and Disability in Today's World

Depression: Suffering and Disability in Today's World

According to reliable scientific sources depression, often stemming from the stress of today's life, promises to affect in the near future more than 20 percent of the world's population, a prognosis that may already be a reality. Depression is, in fact, one of the most important diseases in today's world that causes suffering and disability.

Depressed people are often not well understood and do not receive sufficient support from those around them, most of the time because of lack of knowledge and because this disorder is not recognized as an illness. For many it is a problem of attitude or will. Is it really so?

The term depression has become so commonplace and colloquial that it sometimes loses its meaning as a disease of great impact. Popularly, people use the term "depressed", but without real awareness of what this represents. An important part of those who suffer from depression (between 40 and 60 percent), never receive adequate treatment and most of the time it is not diagnosed in an effective way to intervene in time and avoid complications. It is good for you to know that depression is a treatable disease; thanks to many years of research, today there are medications and psychotherapy modalities that are very effective. You must be clear that if you, or a loved one, suffer from depression, you are not condemned to suffering and unhappiness, for this it is necessary to seek specialized medical help.

The crisis, the permanent conflicts, the economic, labor, social and emotional uncertainty in which we live nowadays, contribute to the appearance of feelings of instability, fear, hopelessness and anguish that, with time, can lead to the development of depressive symptoms. However, the possibility or not of this disorder also depends on the characteristics of each individual.

What are the main characteristics that define people suffering from depression?

In an interview published in IntraMed, a site specialized in health issues, Dr. Luis Hornstein, a psychoanalyst, specialist in depression and author of the book "Las Depresiones", published by Paidós in 2006, offers an accurate answer to this question.

"The main enigmas of today's patient are characterized by intense oscillations of self-esteem, hopelessness, mood swings, apathy, hypochondria, sleep and appetite disorders, lack of projects, crisis of ideals and values, sexual dysfunctions, addictions and body disorders", this specialist in the subject has declared, and adds:

"All this has to do with the fact that people suffering from depression present a pessimistic view of themselves and the world, as well as being usually accompanied by a marked feeling of helplessness and failure. For this reason, their days generally pass as a succession of routines and sorrows, without the presence or signs of the small bursts of joy that a person who does not suffer from this condition may have, and with almost no reason for delight. Thus, energy and interest are progressively diminished and feelings of guilt, concentration difficulties, loss of appetite and thoughts of death or suicide grow. All these changes are accompanied by alterations in cognitive functions, language and vegetative functions (such as sleep, appetite and sexual activity), a situation that in turn often affects social, occupational and interpersonal performance".

What is depression?

Depression is a mood disorder with severe and prolonged feelings of sadness or related symptoms that hinder efficiency. It is a serious illness. Unlike normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or transient states of "bad mood" or "moodiness," depression is constant and can significantly interfere with a person's abilities and capacity to function in the psychosocial environment.

A disorder such as depression affects mood in a radical way and not as emotional outbursts resulting from particular problems, which are usually of a much shorter duration. It is a mental disorder that affects people integrally. It affects their feelings, thoughts and actions. Its causes are complex. Most physicians accept that depression is caused by a combination of biological (including genetic), social and psychological factors.

It is necessary to take into account that not all depressive states are the same, they have many nuances, as they can range from a simple mood variation, an adaptive disorder, a depressive episode or a major depression.

Factors that influence depression

  • Alterations in brain substances called neurotransmitters: serotonin (regulates mood) and dopamine (satisfaction and pleasure), as it has been proven that in depressive patients, the levels of these elements are decreased.
  • Family history (genetic factors).
  • Psychological structure, since this plays an important role in the resistance or fragility that one may have. For example, those with low self-esteem tend to be easily discouraged in the face of problems.
  • Individuals with compulsive, rigid and perfectionist personality.
  • Couple, family, work, school, legal, housing, economic, social and stress problems.
  • Child abuse and/or sexual abuse.
  • Health problems, their own or of family and friends.
  • Loss of loved ones.
  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages and other drugs.
  • Serious illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, AIDS or damage to the thyroid gland.
  • Use of certain medications.
  • Postpartum.

Depression is an illness, not a weakness or something that can be overcome by "doing your part". When you or a loved one has true clinical depression, it is important not to have false expectations. Do not think that depression will go away overnight or by "self-effort" alone. Always remember that we are facing a great "enemy", but do not lose positive expectations, as we can increasingly use more effective "weapons" to combat it from the advances that have occurred in biological psychiatry, psychopharmacology, psychotherapy and other so-called alternative treatments.