Sign & Symptoms

Depression: How to distinguish from mopes and help yourself

Depression is a serious mental disorder whose symptoms are important to recognize in time and choose effective treatment. What is the nature of the disease, what are its symptoms and causes, how to get out of depression properly, and whether it is possible to get rid of it on your own

1- What is depression

Depression is a type of mental disorder that depresses a person. This disease often leads to low self-esteem, apathy, and a sense of uselessness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is prevalent throughout the world, affecting about 280 million people.

According to a study by scientists at the University of Michigan, women are twice as likely as men to be depressed. This is primarily due to the work of neuronal brain cells that are responsible for the reproduction of emotions. In experiments with mice, the activity of these cells was found to be lower in males than in females.

– In men

Men and women exhibit different depressive disorders, as the former are less likely to demonstrate their feelings and experiences.

“Men often ignore a doctor’s visit as a weakness. The main reason for this behavior usually comes from childhood: the boy is raised in a tradition of being strong and not seeking help in solving his problems with another person. Therefore, the male half of the population is looking for any “self-medication” (smoking, alcohol consumption) that can lead to deplorable results” – shared with RIA News Andrey Smirnov, the clinical psychologist.

And because of that men do not fully admit that they may have a disease, they often suffer from more severe depression than women.

The solution to the psychological problems of the powerful half of humanity is usually in the last place so that the symptoms of a possible disease accumulate and can lead to a deterioration of the state of health.

Male depression often manifests itself in the form of excessive aggression, including reluctance to acknowledge the problem.

– In women

Depression is diagnosed twice as often in women. This is because they do not consider visits to a doctor to be a sign of weakness, and they also pay more attention to their health and psychological problems.

Many experts believe that the hormonal changes that occur in women throughout their lives are one of the main causes of depression.

This mental disorder in women begins with systematic mood swings, whimpering, constant fatigue. The desire to work, to do what one likes, to be interested in family problems, etc. During the depression, these symptoms of illness continue for a long time.


Postpartum depression is a special subspecies of the mental disorder experienced by many women who have given birth, as the body is under severe stress due to the adaptation to the next hormonal changes and the new role of the mother. The disease is usually characterized by self-doubt, fears for the health of the baby, and increased emotion.

Postpartum depression can occur due to:

  • Deterioration of family relations (quarrels, scandals, etc.);
  • Increasing the complexity of the life (with the birth of a child, the woman has additional responsibility for the care of the newborn child, which affects her mental state);
  • Changing the social situation (motherhood implies a complete overhaul of the way of life, which leads to fear of not meeting the expectations of society and the image of the ideal mother).

– In children and adolescents

The depressive disorder doesn’t spare kids. Because a child or adolescent is not always able to describe his or her feelings and experiences in detail, child depression can be difficult to detect. It often manifests itself in the form of school failure, conflict with peers, disorganization in the community. In infants under the age of seven, the disorder is characterized by poor appetite, caprices, sluggish movement, and a slight weight gain.

Mental illness is most pronounced in adolescence when the child first encounters a change of social circle and begins to notice that his or her opinion does not always coincide with that of the parents or acquaintances.

2- Signs

Despite the particular manifestations of depression in men, women, and children, there are common signs of mental illness, regardless of sex and age:

  1. Deterioration of the mood, which later degenerates into a depressed state. Also included is the inability to receive positive emotions from joyful moments and events.
  2. The decline of forces. Systematic fatigue does not allow to finish started, prevents to perform routine actions.
  3. Feeling of hopelessness. The future seems grim, any case – predetermined for failure. Life begins to lose meaning, a man no longer sees any prospects, and the will to act is absent.
  4. Low self-esteem. General apathy increases feelings of self-doubt and helplessness.
  5. Loss of memory and concentration of attention.
  6. Changing sleep mode. Insomnia or increased drowsiness begins due to a lack of serotonin hormone, which not only brings a sense of joy but is also responsible for sleep regulation.
  7. Destructive thoughts towards itself. This characteristic is characterized by the urge to self-destruct (from refusing to consult a doctor to causing harm to one’s body).
  8. Pain without reason, which does not pass for more than six months even with the regular visit of a doctor. Most often people with the depressive disorder experience painful feelings in the heart area.

3- Causes

The development of the depressive disorder is influenced by both external and internal causes (biological and social factors).

– Internal

Internal or biological causes are defined as:

  • heredity
  • Heart pathologies (myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, chronic heart failure, etc.);
  • Endocrine disorders (diabetes mellitus, hypo, and hyperthyroidism);
  • Gastrointestinal disorders (cirrhosis of the liver);
  • Rheumatic diseases (arthritis, systemic lesions of connective tissue, etc.);
  • benign and malignant tumors.

– Outer

External signs depend on the environment: how a person interacts with society, how they relate to relatives, within the family, etc.

Social factors influencing the development of depression:

  • Loss or an abrupt change of employment;
  • High level of psycho-emotional activity in the professional sphere;
  • Loss of loved ones;
  • Deterioration of family relations;
  • Economic crises or political instability in the country;
  • no friends;
  • retirement.

4- Pathogenesis

Pathogenesis is the origin of the disease. When depression develops, there are disturbances in the work of the group of neurotransmitters (substances that transmit signals between neurons of the brain). First of all, such mediators are hormones – serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine.

Serotonin deficiency causes increased irritability, aggression, sleep disturbance, and appetite. A low concentration of noradrenaline leads to increased fatigue and apathy. Dopamine affects motor and cognitive activity, as well as the desire to engage in any activity.

5- How to get out of depression

You have to see a doctor when you’re depressed. You can only alleviate the symptoms of the disorder or you can handle the initial stage of the disorder.

Psychologists recommend following certain rules:

  1. You don’t have to suppress your emotions, you have to worry. People with depressive disorders often fear their feelings and create protective mechanisms to insulate themselves from them. However, it is normal to feel and express both positive and negative emotions.
  2. You can’t blame yourself. Depressed people suffer from a sense of guilt that comes from self-doubt and self-doubt.
  3. You have to cultivate true love for yourself. You can start by embracing your achievements and commending yourself. It is enough to write in the notebook the main achievements, for example, in a year, and to start to say to yourself nice words and phrases, such as “I am good”, “I will succeed”, “I have done (a) everything that I wanted(a)” etc.
  4. You always have to try to find a reason for mood swings. It’s the only way to know what made you feel an emotion, and how to avoid it next.
  5. It is necessary to set the right priorities: to understand which activities are satisfying or necessary for life and which can be marginalized. Needless and uninteresting activities will always be disappointing, which also affects depression.
  6. One must learn to express one’s requests and desires directly. People with mental disabilities are often afraid that they will not be understood or that their feelings and experiences will be considered insignificant. It’s important to try to overcome your fear and say whatever you care about.
  7. Seeking help is not a weakness. Sometimes it is difficult for a person to deal with a problem alone, but there is no shame in asking for help.
  • Beck’s depression scale

The depressive disorder has developmental stages. To determine the extent of the disease and prescribe treatment, many psychiatrists resort to the Beck depression scale.

In passing the test, developed by American psychotherapist Aaron Beck and his colleagues, the patient must answer a list of questions that are rated from zero to three, depending on mood tone: zero points – “I’m not sad”; one point – “I am sad and depressed”; 2: “I suffer from depression and anguish”; 3: “I am unhappy and cannot bear my condition”.

In the end, all the results are summed up and the doctor concludes the scores.

  • Classification

Depressive disorders are usually classified as exogenous and endogenous, depending on the cause of the disease.

Exogenous depression is a state of mind caused by external factors (a difficult life situation or grief). It is much more difficult to track such a disorder, as the symptoms may weaken or, conversely, increase when the social environment changes. For example, on leave, the patient starts to feel better, and ongoing to work he feels apathy again.

Endogenous depression is caused by internal factors. This form of mental disorder needs to be treated through a comprehensive approach (counseling and medication). The endogenous disease is more stable over time and is practically independent of the social environment.

6- Stage of development

Depression has five major developmental stages:

Initial stage. It has a latent form of the disease in which not all symptoms are visible. First of all, there is a headache, nausea, unpleasant feelings in the area of the heart, etc.

Somatized depression. The main signs are a change in health during the day and mood swings. A general pessimistic backdrop, negative thoughts, and a decline in power begin to form.

Cyclothymic stage. It is characterized by a gradually developing sense of sadness, dysfunctional thinking, and chronic fatigue. Bad moods are getting sidetracked, and patients are increasingly looking for only negative ones. At the same time, the symptoms of the previous stages are completely preserved.

Melancholy Depression. This stage of the disease is accompanied by thoughts of self-destruction, feelings of self-inferiority, frustration in life, desire to harm oneself as punishment for misdeeds.

The final stage of depression (much less common). It is considered to be the most severe, the patient begins to develop delusional disorders and hallucinations.

  • Complications

Depression affects the nervous system and the body as a whole. You can’t put psychological problems on the back burner because that disorder often leads to somatic diseases: bronchial asthma, ischemic heart disease, oncology, etc. Many diseases associated with depression become chronic.


For a start, the specialist analyses and evaluates possible causes of the disease and compares them with diagnostic criteria. After the patient is referred to a clinical psychologist, where the doctor gives an opinion on the state of mind, memory, and concentration of the patient. There is also a need to examine the neurologist and the general practitioner if there are any complaints about heart problems, gastrointestinal problems, etc.

In case of suspicion of other diseases, the psychotherapist may order a thyroid hormone, EKG, CT, or MRI test.

8- Treatment

Depression is treated according to the type and stage of mental illness. The most common approach is a holistic approach.

  • Pharmacotherapy

During the cyclothymic or melancholic stage of depression, patients are given medication.

The physician decides on the prescription of medicines in the following cases:

  • A person refuses to perform daily activities (get out of bed, eat, etc.);
  • No effect of psychotherapy;
  • Depression is caused by internal causes;
  • Re-emergence of the disease;
  • There are visible complications of the patient’s physical health.
  • Antidepressants

Antidepressants are the main drugs used in the fight against depression and must be administered under strict medical supervision since drugs can lead to several complications and side effects if used independently.

Antidepressants help to raise the mood, remove anxiety and irritability, improve sleep and appetite, reduce apathy, normalize emotional background.

  • Psychotherapy

Its main purpose is to change the patient’s irrational beliefs and to rid him of pessimistic thoughts and moods. Some symptoms of depression fade quickly, others may take much longer to get rid of.

These sessions are aimed at developing the patient’s deep-rooted experiences and traumatic experiences.

  • Phototherapy

Phototherapy involves exposure to powerful artificial light sources twice a day (morning and evening) for half an hour. This type of treatment is used when diagnosing a seasonal, mild form of mental disorder.

  • Non-pharmacological methods

Non-pharmacological treatments for depression generally include:

  • Deprivation of sleep (lack of or total absence of sleep);
  • Diet therapy
  • Warm bath treatment
  • Massage and therapeutic exercise (respiratory gymnastics and motor activity contribute to the reduction of symptoms).

These methods are less effective than psychological counseling and medication, so they are prescribed as a supplement to basic therapy.

9- Consequences

One cannot ignore the symptoms of any stage of depression, because the disease quickly degenerates into a serious condition that is almost impossible to deal with on its own.

10- Prophylaxis

Everyone can become depressed. It is important to ensure that it does not become a serious mental illness. To this end, psychologists believe that the following preventive measures should be implemented:

  • To be attentive to your mood, to notice negative moments and not to ignore them, but to allow yourself to feel, to experience.
  • Address issues as they arise and be able to prioritize.

“It is important not to accumulate unfinished tasks, so as not to feel emotionally under permanent stress from the mere thought of postponed cases,” emphasized Veronica Thurina, psychologist-consultant, energy therapist. – In addition, the intelligent planning of your time will instill in everyone confidence in themselves, in their abilities, and create a perfect sense of self – “I’m good at everything”, “I’m good at everything”.

  • Make a list of pleasant things to do and take at least one place from there every day to do it. You have to start doing what you like, and it will greatly enhance a person’s emotional state.
  • Looking for support in other people can and should be. A patient with depression consciously avoids society, but pleasant communication is the best prevention against any neurological disorders.

“It is also necessary to always try to fill oneself with positive emotions, to celebrate in oneself dignity – this is a no less important moment that teaches everyone to perceive the best moments in their surroundings. Such actions lead to conscious positive thinking that can be cultivated”


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