Q1: WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
ANS: Depresssion is a mood disorder characterised by a low mood and lowered interest in nearly all activities for at least 2 weeks. Additionally weight loss, sleep disturbance, feeling worthless, excessive guilt and decreased attention/concentration etc may be present.
Q2: WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
ANS: The cause is not FULLY known. However it is known that Depression is associated with genetic , organic and psychosocial factors. An interaction of many factors is a likely cause. Adversity in childhood and recent life events such as death, divorce, unemployment & imprisonment are common psycho-social factors that could lead to depression.
Q3: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRESS & DEPRESSION?
ANS: Stress refers to our physical/mental responses to many common demands in our environment such as work, finances, health etc. It is not a disease. Depression is a disease that is classified under the DSM 5/ICD 10. There are specific guidelines on how to treat depression.
Q4: HOW COMMON IS DEPRESSION?
ANS: Depression is a common mental disorder. It affects 10-17% of the population. The chance of suffering depression over ones life time is 1 in 4 for women and 1 in 10 for men. By 2020, depression will be second in terms of global disease burden behind Ischemic Heart Disease. 20-30% of patients attending primary health care clinics have a primary psychiatric disorder mainly anxiety and depression. Depression is among top 5 diagnosis made in the primary healthcare setting.
Q5: WHAT SHOULD ONE DO IF THEY HAVE DEPRESSION?
ANS: One should know that depression is treatable. As many as 2 in 3 of people who have depression do not realise that they have a treatable illness. Untreated depression can lead to suicide. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in persons aged 15-29 years. However treatment of depression can reduce morbidity and lead to decreased utilization of health services. Treatment of depression includes Medication, Psychotherapy & electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the illness among other factors.
Dr. Chitayi Murabula.