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Depression - Awareness, Self-Diagnosis, and Treatment Modalities

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Depression - Awareness, Self-Diagnosis, and Treatment Modalities

4 min read


Depression is a frequent mental illness. It involves a persistently downcast attitude or loss of enjoyment or enthusiasm in activities. Read on to know more.

Written by

Dr. Ajay Singh

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Preetha. J

Published At August 1, 2017
Reviewed AtMarch 19, 2024


Depression has been recorded in the annals of history since time immemorial, but never has it assumed so much significance as it has in today’s world. With the advent of technology today, human society is evolving by leaps and bounds with every passing day. As the saying goes every coin has two sides, and so does this evolution. In the underbelly of this progress, lies the advent and increased prevalence of illnesses both physical as well as psychological. Both physical and psychological illnesses are part of a vicious cycle in which the presence of one can lead to the emergence of the other. One of the most common examples of this is the prevalence of depression in diabetic patients and vice versa.

According to statistics provided by WHO, depressive disorders are predicted to be the major cause of mortality and morbidity in the world in the next three years. It remains one of the most undiagnosed and undertreated illnesses, the major reason for this being a lack of awareness and knowledge among the masses and the stigma attached to psychiatric illnesses in our society. Epidemiologically speaking, depression affects one in twenty persons and occurs more in females than in males. It can be categorized as exogenous, occurring due to some external or environmental stress, and endogenous, which means occurring internally without any outside cause, leading to an imbalance of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), predominantly serotonin, whose level is lowered.

What Is Depression?

Depression, also referred to as depressive disorder, is a prevalent mental illness. It is characterized by a protracted period of depression, lack of happiness, or lack of interest in tasks.

A depressive state is not the same as normal mood swings or feelings related to daily living. It can impact all facets of life, especially ties to friends, family, and the community. It may originate from or contribute to issues at work and in the classroom. Anyone can experience depression. Depression is more likely to strike those who have experienced violence, significant losses, or other stressful situations. Compared to men, women experience depression at a higher rate.

What Are the Primary Symptoms?

These symptoms must be present continuously for at least two weeks to make a diagnosis of depression.

  • Low mood and sadness, which is persistent and pervades all other mood states.

  • Loss of interest in earlier activities of interest.

  • Easy fatigability, loss of energy, and persistent tiredness.

What Are the Secondary Symptoms?

These symptoms are used to quantify depression as mild, moderate, or severe.

  • A decrease in attention span, loss of concentration, and inability to focus on daily tasks.

  • A lowering of confidence and self-esteem.

  • Having thoughts that the coming future is dark and bleak.

  • Feeling worthless and losing all hope.

  • Having guilt-ridden thoughts.

  • Having thoughts regarding dying and killing oneself.

  • Disturbance in the sleep cycle, such as falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or getting up a few hours before the normal waking time.

  • Loss of emotional reactivity as per social requirements.

  • Rapid decrease or increase in weight.

  • Loss of sexual desires.

  • Worsening of symptoms in the morning.

  • Decreased activity levels.

What Are the Treatment Modalities for Depression?

There are two mainstays of therapy for depression.

  • Pharmacological therapies.

  • Non-pharmacological therapies.

Pharmacological Therapy:

It is mostly used in the treatment of a moderate and severe type of depression and comprises the use of medication for treatment. The main medications used are antidepressants (Amitriptyline, Imipramine, Escitalopram, Sertraline, Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, Venlafaxine, Desvenlafaxine, Duloxetine, Mirtazapine, Bupropion, Vilazodone, etc.), antipsychotics (Olanzapine, Risperidone, Quetiapine, Amisulpride, Aripiprazole, Lurasidone, etc.), mood stabilizers (Lithium, as it has anti-suicidal properties, Carbamazepine, Oxcarbazepine, etc.).

Due to their potentially severe side effects, MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) such as Tranylcypromine, Phenelzine, and Isocarboxazid may be administered, usually after other medications have failed. Because of risky interactions between foods, some drugs, and herbal supplements, using MAOIs necessitates following a rigorous diet.

Non-Pharmacological Therapy:

It is used as a stand-alone therapy in some cases of mild depression and combination with pharmacological agents for the treatment of moderate and severe depression and comprises relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, yoga, regular exercises, cognitive behavior therapy (which involves identifying and challenging the negative thought patterns of the patient and replacing them with positive thought process), mindfulness therapy (based on the concept of here and now, living in the present), family therapy, marital therapy, etc.

When to Visit a Doctor?

Schedule a visit with the physician or mental health specialist as soon as possible if feeling down. Speak with a friend or loved one, a medical professional, or anyone else one trusts if hesitant to get therapy.

What Are the Complications of Depression?

If depression is not addressed, it frequently worsens and causes mental, behavioral, and physiological issues that impact all aspects of life.

Complications linked to depression include:

  • Obesity or being overweight can cause diabetes and heart disease.

  • Physical discomfort or disease.

  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol.

  • Panic attacks, anxiety, or social anxiety.

  • Workplace or academic issues, family disputes, and relationship troubles.

  • Social exclusion.

  • Suicidal thoughts, feelings, or acts.

What Are Some Self-Care Tips That Help in Managing Depression?

Self-care helps in managing depression and the general well-being of individuals.

  • Try to continue engaging in the things that one feels joy.

  • Maintain contact with loved ones.

  • Exercise regularly, even if it's only a quick stroll.

  • Maintain a regular sleeping and eating schedule.

  • Avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption and abstaining from illegal drug usage can help prevent depression.

  • Talk about one's feelings with a trusted person.

  • See a healthcare professional for assistance.

If individuals experience any thoughts of suicide-

  • They must know that are not alone and many have faced the same illness and come over it.

  • Talk to someone whom they trust.

  • Consult a health care professional.

  • Enroll in any support group.


So, in conclusion, depression like other illnesses is curable, provided it is detected in time, for which both the general population, as well as the primary physicians, should be aware regarding its presentation. Just like screening methods for other illnesses, screening for depressive illnesses should be a part of the routine check-up of the patient.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Three Basic Approaches to Treat Depression?

The three basic approaches to treating depression include
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is also known as medico therapy; psychiatrists provide it depending on patients' needs. 
- Interpersonal test.
- Supportive therapy. It is also known as psychotherapy, and licensed practitioners provide it.


How Is Depression Diagnosed?

Depression, unlike other conditions, cannot be diagnosed using tests such as X-rays, blood investigations, or scans. The diagnosis of depression is usually made by asking questions. The doctor may ask questions about one’s feelings and behavior. However, some physical tests may also be performed to rule out other conditions. The doctor may question a person's sleep, eating habits, and social interactions to diagnose the condition.


What Is the First Line of Treatment for Depression?

The first line of treatment for depression includes choosing anti-depressant medications. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the primary drugs of choice as anti-depressants.


Why Should We Identify and Treat Clinical Depression?

Depression should be diagnosed soon as it may lead to many complications, such as risky behavior. It can cause addictive behavior, such as alcoholism and substance addiction. It can hamper the overall life of a person if left untreated.


How Is CBT Useful in the Treatment of Depression?

Depression can be effectively treated with the help of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). This involves therapies with a trained therapist. People who take CBT are more likely to recover from depressive episodes than others.


Can You Self-Diagnose Depression?

Depression cannot be self-diagnosed. However, the symptoms can be assessed by the individual. Various self-assessment tests are available online. One can also share these test results with their psychiatrist or psychologist.


What Do You Mean by a Depression Device?

Depression devices may also be known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS is a noninvasive procedure that uses nerve impulses to stimulate the nerves in the brain. It is used as a treatment for depression when other methods have failed or do not yield many results.


Why Is Awareness Regarding Mental Disorders Necessary?

Awareness regarding mental disorders is necessary to eliminate the stigma around them. Awareness about mental health can help tackle the disease simultaneously, and it helps support others suffering from them.


What Is a Good Solution to Depression?

A good solution to depression can be a combination of cognitive and medical therapy. Drugs help by stabilizing the chemicals in the brain. It also helps in stabilizing the mood. Cognitive therapy can help fasten the recovery process.


How Is Anxiety Diagnosed?

A healthcare practitioner can diagnose anxiety. The symptoms of the patient can be evaluated to diagnose anxiety. The doctor may also run certain blood investigations to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as hypothyroidism. Diagnosis can be arrived at by comparing various parameters.
Dr. Ajay Singh
Dr. Ajay Singh



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