This is Todd. Todd wakes up at 7:00 a.m. to go to the gym it's his favorite part
of the day. Todd then goes to class. He never skips classes and is an excellent
student. Todd catches up with some friends after
class before going home to eat dinner with his housemates. Todd loves to eat.
Lately Todd hasn't been feeling like himself.
He has trouble sleeping at night. He doesn't feel motivated to workout in the
gym in the morning like he used to. He's been having trouble concentrating
in class and is losing his appetite. Todd's friends are worried about him and
encourage him to go see a doctor. The doctor asks Todd to fill out a lifestyle
questionnaire. The doctor analyzes Todd's symptoms and diagnoses him with major
depressive disorder. Todd does not want to tell anybody about his depression
worried about what his friends might think if they found out.
Don't worry Todd, I will explain all there is to know about depression and
clear up any misconceptions. To start off what exactly is depression? Major
depressive disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by persistently
low mood. The average length of a depressive episode is seen to be six to
eight months. According to a study done by Raw and colleagues nearly 20% of
people will experience a major depressive episode at some point in
their lives. Some of the major emotional symptoms include deep feelings of
sadness, reduced interest in previously enjoyed activities, low sexual desire,
restlessness, feelings of worthlessness, constant irritability, social withdrawal,
and recurrent thoughts of suicide. There are also many physiological symptoms
associated with depression. Some of the most prevalent include unintentional
weight loss, insomnia, loss of energy and even slowed movement or speech.
Depression can really affect you in the long run. Behavior caused by depression
can cause a downfall in a student's academic abilities, disrupt meaningful
relationships with loved ones and lead to malnutrition. Therefore it is very
important to seek treatment. Major depressive disorder can result
from a number of things especially for a student.
It is likely due to a complex combination of factors including
genetics: people who have first-degree relatives who also undergo depression
are at a higher risk themselves. Personal life events: tragic events such as the
death of a family member, loss of a job, divorce, or any other type
of stressful occurrence, can increase chances of depression.
Traumatic childhood, sexual or psychological abuse, neglect, poverty, and an unhealthy
lifestyle or a predisposition to developing depression later on in life.
Drugs and medication: prescribed medication such as corticosteroids can
cause side effects resulting in depression. The abuse of recreational
drugs including amphetamines can increase chances of depression too.
There are different ways to treat depression depending on the severity of the
disorder and other circumstances. First off, there are several antidepressant
medications that act upon different neurotransmitters in the body. Selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI is an example of a drug that increases the
amount of serotonin in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter associated with
happiness. Although there are many drugs that can be obtained to eliminate
depressive symptoms it is not a long-term solution. Cognitive behavioral
therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy
are the two main types of therapies used to treat depression. They help
individuals focus on the present and encourage the regaining of control over
mood and functioning. However, the best solution is to have support from loved
ones to help alleviate feelings of depression. For example, having a sit-down
talk with family members to discuss practical solutions to ongoing problems
can reduce symptoms of depression. There are many facilities here at the McMaster
campus to help students deal with depression. One of them includes the
McMaster Wellness Center where students are able to talk to counselors, receive
advice, and join therapeutic groups with individuals experiencing similar
problems. Additionally, the peer support line at
McMaster allows any student to call and talk to
volunteers about what they are feeling. Unfortunately, in this time and age, there
is still stigmatization associated with depression. However, both education and
spreading awareness are key to ending the stigma that occurs in society. This
negative stereotype of disgrace or discredit towards individuals
experiencing mental illness sets them apart from others. Not only does it hurt
the feelings of individuals experiencing depression, but it also causes them to
feel like they are not good enough. This must stop.
The results of a study done by Stangler, Wensky, and colleagues displays that
45% of people surveyed reported concrete instances of stigmatization after
receiving treatment for depression. However, through treatment education and
understanding we can suppress the effects of major depressive disorder. Our
goal is to put an end to stigmatization and to create a comfortable environment
for everyone by coming together and understanding depression is common and
perfectly acceptable in our society. For more information, please visit wellness.mcmaster.ca