Major depression is a bit like having diabetes. You can control for it by living healthily and looking after yourself but that doesn't make it go away completely. It affects more people than you might think, but is something people choose not to admit to (five to eight percent of the US adult population suffers from major depression).
If there are stressors in life, then major depression recurs, as the brain struggles to keep itself fully supplied with serotonin. Any stressors deplete serotonin levels to a point where one simply no longer cares about anything. If you could imagine waking up and having nothing to look forward to ever again, that's what it feels like to have major depressive disorder.
If someone with major depression decides to off themselves, it's usually triggered by a selfish, yet alarmingly clear moment of rationality. If you truly believe you have no worth left, that you're merely a drain on the earth's resources, that family and friends do not need you, then what point is there to remain in stasis?
The truly depressed don't broadcast their intentions. They don't offer themselves opportunities to reverse their decision. They'll jump off buildings, or drown themselves, or overdose in a manner which assures finality. The problem is, thet first attempt is usually an attempt to be validated by others. It's the second one you should be afraid of. Statistically, the second attempt is usually successful.
Once a person has been diagnosed with major depression and begins medical treatment, there is a period of increased risk, as the anti-depressants make depression sufferers more proactive, whilst still being depressed. If you have major depression, the best management strategy involves combining chemical intervention with serious appraisal of environmental factors contributing to the depression. It may take as long as nine months for anti-depressants to work, and their side-effects aren't great.
Cognitive behavioural therapy can be used to identify the root causes of the depression, once these are found, they have to be dealt with through behaviour change. Simply taking anti-depressants is not the answer.
Instead, a lifestyle audit is necessary that includes:
- healthy eating
- a proper sleep routine
- avoidance of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs
- relaxation techniques such as transcendental meditation
Summary of symptoms of depression:
- sleep disturbances- either more or less sleep than before
- appetite disturbances- again, weight gain or weight loss
- listlessness, loss of interest
- expression of negativity
- increased usage of substances such as alcohol
I have suffered from major depression for the last fourteen years, on and off.
-Nicole Dodd, HOD, Industrial Psychology, The University of Zululand