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In this article, we are going to be discussing a serious situation that is really affecting our society and the society at large.  Both young and old are being affected by depression, a lot of people around us that we interact with day in day out are in one depressive state or the other,many walking  around us unnoticed until harm is done,then we begin to put fragments together and then  the bigger picture that, that person was a very unhappy fellow before the incident.

This write-up will point out ways in which we can identify such people and also help them before harm is done. It will also help us to make the world a better and happier place to live in.


What is depression?

Depression is a common term used to describe feelings of sadness that we all experience at a particular period of our lives. Since feelings of depression are so common, it’s highly important to understand and differentiate between unhappiness and sadness in daily life and signs of a depressive disorder.

When faced with the challenges of life, such as losing a loved one, a relationship break-up, disappointment or frustration, most people will feel unhappy or sad. These are emotional reactions that are appropriate to the situation and will usually last only a limited time. Such reactions are not regarded as a depressive disorder, but part of everyday life.

What is a depressive disorder?

A depressive disorder is an episodic, recurring disorder characterized by persistent and pervasive sadness or unhappiness, loss of enjoyment of everyday activities once enjoyed and associated symptoms such as negative thinking, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating and disturbances in appetite and sleep. These symptoms can severely disrupt the persons’ everyday life.

Depressive disorders are common and around 1 in 5 people will experience depressive disorder at some time during their lives.

Depression may affect people in different ways. Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom, some people experience only a few symptoms, some people may have many. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and his/her particular illness. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the illness.

Symptoms of depression.

Core Symptoms

  • Low mood
  • Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
  • Low energy

Symptoms should have been ongoing for at least 2 weeks

Other symptoms

  • Poor sleep- early awakening, intermittent awakening
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Poor concentration
  • Reduced libido
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Suicidal ideations/attempt
  • Weepy episodes
  • Psychotic symptoms

What are the main types of depression?

  • Mild depression = 2 core symptoms + 2 other symptoms
  • Moderate depression = 2 core symptoms + 4 other symptoms
  • Severe depression = 3 core symptoms + 5 other symptoms OR presence of a psychotic illness.

What is the difference between mild and moderate/severe depression?

  • Mild depression means that the depressive symptoms are not having a significant impact on a person’s daily functioning
  • Moderate/severe depression means that there is a significant impairment in daily life.

What are the risk factors for depressive disorders?

                                                                    RISK FACTORS
1 Biological
  •   A family history of depression
  •  Parental substance use or alcohol misuse
  •  A family history of bipolar disorder
  •  Female gender
  •  Puberty
  •   Chronic medical illness
  •  Previous history of depression
2 Psychological
  •  Trauma
  •   Neurotic or highly emotional temperamental style
  •   Bereavement
  •   Low self-esteem
3 Family
  •   Abuse, neglect
  •   Negative parenting styles: rejection, lack of care
  •   Parental mental disorder
  •   Parent-child conflict
4 Social
  •   Bullying
  •  Child and adolescent offenders
  •   Institutionalized or fostered children, refugees, homeless, asylum seekers



Caring for people with a depressive disorder will depend on each person’s symptoms. Due to the rising rate of depressive disorders, health centers have been educated on ways to handle such cases. Depressive disorders can be effectively treated.

Persons experiencing feelings of sadness that have lasted for a long time or that are affecting their daily lives to a large extent should contact their family doctor or community health center. Treatment will include one  or more of the following:

  • Psychological interventions ( Psychotherapy), such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy ( CBT ), this aims at helping patients identify negative thinking styles that are related to depression.
  • Behaviour techniques, this aims at modifying negative feelings and symptoms related to depression.
  • Anti-depressant medications, this also helps to relieve depressed feelings, restore normal sleep patterns and appetite and reduce anxiety.
  • Lifestyle changes, such as physical exercise and reducing harmful alcohol and other drug use, assist people to recover from depression.
  • For severe forms of depression, Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), is a safe and effective treatment, especially for those at high risk of suicide or who have stopped eating or drinking due to the severity of their illness and such may affect their health which can lead to death.


The families and friends of people with a depressive disorder often times feel confused, distressed and overwhelmed, educating and supporting as well as proper and effective community awareness play an important role in treatment.



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