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HealthWhat is depression

What is depression

Ashley Agwuncha


Courtesy of World Health Organization

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problemsMayo clinic


Darker than grief, an implosion of the self, a sheet of ice: no matter how you describe it, this is a terrifying state to be trapped inTim Lott


Research has shown that the medical community can’t quite make up their minds as to whether depression is a physical “illness” rooted in neurochemistry or a negative habit of thought that can be addressed by talking or behavioural therapies. While the medical community tries to figure out the root cause of depression, let’s take a better look into one of the most common, yet least talked about illnesses in the modern world…Depression


One of the most common misconceptions about depression is that it's very similar to feelings of sadness or being down, both of which are commonly disregarded or taken slightly. And although many people with depression feel sadness, depression is actually different in the sense that the feelings are much more severe than normal emotions that come and go in response to life events.


The symptoms of depression can last for months or years if left untreated and can make it difficult or impossible to carry on with daily life. It can disrupt careers, destroy relationships, and make daily tasks such as self-care and housework extremely difficult. In order to diagnose depression, doctors will usually look for the 3 key symptoms listed below in addition to other symptoms that have lasted at least 2 weeks or more:

1) Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities

2) Fatigue/lack of energy

3) persistent sadness or low mood


Other symptoms include;

·      Loss of appetite

·      Disturbed sleep

·      Poor concentration/confusion

·      Suicidal thought

·      Guilt/self blame and so forth.

At this point you must be wondering if an individual has all of the above symptoms does it mean they have depression? Well the answer is a bit more complex than that because although there are many clinical definitions and various diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of depression, it actually looks and feels different in each person. Some associate it with symptoms that can’t be seen while others experience physical symptoms such as aches and pains.

Courtesy of World Health Organization

Below are some examples of what four people have said that depression feels like:


“At the worst times I would describe it as, having my insides on fire while I slowly drown. It’s overwhelming and exhausting…”
“it's like drowning, it's like an addiction, you want to get out of it but at the same time you don't and it feels awful because no one can understand you…”
“It’s like being trapped in a mind where you are never happy and when you are it doesn't feel right. You get used to not being happy and learn to accept it…”
“it feels like your head is burning in pain. You feel you wont ever be happy. The voices in your head take their toll, continuously stabbing you with fear and negativity. It seems like you are covered with huge painful bleeding scars that no one can see, so no one really understands the pain you are dealing with. Its hard to take life one day at a time. Your head weighs like a thousand tons. It always seems like you are running in circles, never getting anywhere. Lot of anger, lot of sadness. It seems like you are on fire and no one or nothing can put it out for long. You are always yearning for relief from it. Sometimes you feel chest pain headaches or break into sweat. You cry a lot. Or you stop feeling anything and become numb. You don’t want to leave the house, anxiety wont let you. You want to be left alone. This is what it feels like and I haven’t even given a full account of it…”


In a Guardian article written by Tim Lott, What does depression feel like? Trust me – you really don’t want to know, he gives a raw description of what depression really feels like


More than 1 out of every 10 people battling depression commits suicide and not getting help can be life threatening. If you or someone you know can identify with some of these feelings or some of the common symptoms mentioned earlier and have felt that way for a long time, don’t keep quiet about it. Seek out someone you can speak to, someone you trust, maybe a friend or family member at first. But most importantly ensure you book an appointment with a medical professional such as a family doctor or a mental health professional, with whom you can discuss treatment options to help you manage your depression and move on with daily life.

For more information and advice on what to do call these hotlines to speak to trained professionals that help deal with depression

+2348062106493, or +2348092106493

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