Depression is one of the most common types of mental disorders, affecting about 340 million people worldwide. Interestingly, about half of all cases of depression go undiagnosed and untreated, yet depression is the most treatable form of mental illness. Depression occurs in all age groups, social classes and cultures. It is far more common in women, affecting 25 percent of women versus about 10 percent of men. Additionally, depression also affects one out of every 20 teenagers.
It is very important to make a distinction between situational depression, which is a normal reaction to events around us, and clinical depression, which is triggered from within and is not related to external situations. Situational depression is quite common and normally follows stressful situations or losses. Rather than suppress these feelings, it is best to work through these periods with help from psychotherapists or counselors. Clinical depression is a medical diagnosis and often requires other forms of depression treatment.
Symptoms and Causes
The core symptoms of depression include:
- A sullen mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt and anxiety
- Loss of interest in things that used to be pleasurable
- Change in appetite
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Inability to concentrate
- A lack of energy or feeling run-down
Those with a family history of depression are much more likely to experience its effects at some point in their lives.
In addition, there are several factors that can precipitate depression:
- A recent loss or sad event such as the loss of a job, bereavement or social isolation
- Side effects of certain drugs
- Infections such as AIDS, mononucleosis and viral hepatitis
- Pre-menstrual syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Certain types of cancer
- Neurological disorders such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
- Nutritional deficiencies of B12 or B6
Recommended Lifestyle Changes for Depression Treatment
In Buddhist philosophy, depression represents the inevitable consequence of seeking stimulation. The centuries old teachings suggest that we seek balance in our emotional health and lives, rather than continuously striving for the highs, and then complaining about the lows that follow.
Its basic recommendation encourages the daily practice of meditation, and this is perhaps the best way to address the root of depression and change it. This requires long-term commitment, however, as meditation does not produce immediate results.