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One of my patients asked me to change my designation as stress and wellness specialist rather than a psychiatrist. It really surprised me. She was in depression for last 3-4 months and was facing lots of stress at the workplace due to mental disabilities caused by depression. Three years ago her mother also tried to commit suicide because of depression. Despite knowing all facts about depression, she was feeling awkward going to a psychiatrist because of so called stigma attached to it. She did not take appropriate steps to solve the problem by consulting the Psychologist or Psychiatrist. Finally she was not able to continue her job and faced many psychosocial consequences. Being a mental health professional,we are observing their problems daily. We observe people wasting their productive years due to repeated episodes of depression. Because of that, I want to share some myths and facts related to depression and other psychiatric illnesses: MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT DEPRESSION:
1.MYTH- Depression occurs because of psychological weaknesses of an individual. FACT- Cause of Depression is not purely psychological, it is Bio-psycho-social. a). Biological -Biological changes in brain chemistry- i) Change in serotonin, norepinephrine like neurotransmitters. ii) Genetics – family history of Depression. b) Psychological – This is related to the individual’s psychic structures that is his/her personality traits and coping strategies. c). Social – This is related to individual’s circumstances and social support system.
2. MYTH – Depression can be treated well with physical exercise only.
FACT- Physical exercise improves mood and self esteem of the individual, but can not treat brain chemistry completely. So complete remission requires pharmacotherapy, counselling as well as lifestyle modification. 3. 3.MYTH – Alchohol can treat my depression. FACT – People start taking Alcohol to feel euphoric.Alcohol elevates your mood only transiently , rather it precipitates Alcohol induced depression. So it deteriorates depression, and it also causes alcohol induced liver disease.
4. MYTH- Depression is sadness only and it happens because of circumstances.
FACT- Depression and sadness are two different psychological states.
Depression (Abnormal psychological state) Duration – > 2 weeks Symptoms of Depression- Sadness, loss of interest, fatigue decreased appetite, disturbed sleep and experiencing problems in routine work. Treatment – Needs Consultation from a Psychiatrist. Sadness (Normal Psychological State) Transient< 2 week
Sadness is emotional reactivity to external or internal stressor that resolves itself. Treatment-Stress Management Strategies
5. MYTH -Depression is uncommon.
FACT -As per world health organisation, 300 million patients are suffering from depression worldwide. The World mental healthy survey conducted in 17 countries found that on an average about 1 out of 20 people report having an episode of Depression previous year.
6. MYTH – Medical tests like CT brain / MRI brain should be done for depression.
FACT – Changes in brain chemistry is not picked by CT brain or MRI like investigations. Diagnosis of Depression requires clinical assessment and psychological assessment.
7. MYTH – One should take medicine for depression for a short duration only. Anti -depressants are harmful.
FACT- Treatment of depression is done in two phases. First 2-3 months of treatment is for symptom remission then maintenance phase of treatment is given for relapse prevention.If maintenance phase of treatment is not given to patient, he/she may have more episodes of depression in future.
Dr Aarti Midha
Sleep and Depression
Good quality of sleep is required for Psychological health.Insomnia is a symptom of depression, regular practice of good sleep hygiene prevents use of sleeping pills.Disturbed sleep is associated with majority of mood disorders. For good sleep, avoid day time nap,regular morning walk/physical exercise /yoga, avoid alcohol,caffeine like stimulants in evening .
Diet and Depression
Research does not give any conclusive thoughts about association of diet and depression.Some studies show role of antioxidants, selenium and Omega 3 fatty acids in treatment of Depression.
Physical exercise/ yoga and Depression
Physical exercises causes release of some chemicals that interacts with brain receptors that my improve mood and self esteem.
Alcohol,Cigarette addiction and Depression
Alcohol dependence is associated with Depression. Treatment of Alcohol induced depression includes treatment of Alcohol addiction.Tobacco use is associated with insomnia and anxiety .Management of drug addiction is important for treatment of Depression.
Meditation and Depression
Meditation is a way of turning your attention to a single focus. Point of focus can be breathing, chanting a mantra, or any other bodily sensation. Meditation aims channeling ones focus on living in the present. Meditation requires continuous practice. The regular practice of meditation leads to development of control over psyche in an individual.
a) Mindful Meditation: Psychiatrists and psychologists use this method to help people suffering with psychological problems.
b) Spiritual Meditation: This method is followed by majority of the spiritual organizations to help people relive from various problems.
Meditation helps to control negative thoughts ,anxiety symptoms and insomnia
in patients of Depression.
Dr Aarti Midha
Psychiatrist and Deaddiction Specialist