The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterises major depression can lead to a range of behavioural and physical symptoms, says Niraj Doshi.
People suffering from depression don’t want to commit suicide.
They want the endless pain deep inside to stop.
According to a study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in five Indians may suffer from depression in their lifetime; that is equivalent to 200 million people.
It is important at this point to differentiate that unhappiness is not the same as depression.
Unhappiness is a passing feeling while depression is a disease- an unstable state of mind caused by external factors such as societal or personal stress that is further exacerbated by an inability to cope with these pressures.
A person suffering from depression needs proper care without the stigma that accompanies mental health.
It is important to change the perception of mental health -- it is a disease like any other that needs to be addressed with medicines, therapy and a change in lifestyle.
Depression does not have a face or any recognisable physical traits. It is therefore important for people to be aware of the warning signs -- the cries for help that manifest itself in a number of ways.
1. Lack of sleep
One of the first and most important signs of depression is a lack of sleep or a disturbed REM cycle.
This can best be described as sleeping too much (hypersomnia) or getting little to no sleep (insomnia).
This sign varies from person to person. A general feeling of tiredness should not be mistaken for depression.
Disturbances in sleep patterns are often accompanied by apathy and lack of inertia and motivation.
This, in turn, has significant effects on appetite where a depressed individual finds comfort in food or loses interest in food altogether.
2. Change in habits and behaviour
Another sign is a dramatic change in the individual's habits, hobbies and behaviour.
There is a tendency to move away from activities that previously gave joy to the individual -- whether it is music, conversations or drawing -- these activities are no longer a source of happiness and is a stark contrast to the behaviour that was projected before the onset of depression in that individual.
Severe mood swings are another sign that a person needs help.
An individual with mental health issues goes through a wide spectrum of deeply felt emotions -- from irritability and aggression to calm and composed.
Such severe changes in mood must be addressed and proper care must be given in a timely manner.
Another sign is a complete takeover of one's psyche with a strong and overpowering negative emotion.
The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterises major depression can lead to a range of behavioural and physical symptoms.
3. Lack of focus
When a person is depressed, another sure shot sign is a loss of focus and concentration.
The mind of a person with any mental illness often withdraws from society, daily activities and even from their friends, family and loved ones.
Their thoughts drift frequently from normal thoughts to suicidal a thought that completely engulfs them and makes them incapable to keep up with a normal daily schedule.
4. Deficient diet
A deficiency in certain nutrients can also cause mental disorders and hence vice-versa as well. This is especially apparent in regards to anxiety and depression.
These nutrients include particular vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and omega 3 fatty acids.
Most experts agree it is better to get these nutrients from vegetables, fruits and nuts e.g. broccoli, spinach, berries and brazil nuts to name a few.
Niraj Doshi is co-founder SAL Foundation, a non profit that helps people with mental health issues.