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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why so blue? A common Saudi feeling?

By Dr. Modi Batterjee, IBCLC, DHA
A common discussion topic in our society today is “being depressed”. We often complain about feeling blue and think that we suffer from depression. The concept of feeling blue represents the feelings of being down that are associated with the color blue thus having a low morale and feelings of stillness. Feeling blue is very different from being depressed. It is normal for a person to feel sad sometimes in reaction to the typical strains of life and life experiences that have an impact on our routines and the typical flow of our comfortable lifestyles. On the other hand depression is a serious condition that needs proper diagnosis and treatment.

There are many types of depression; each type has its own set of signs and symptoms that must be identified by a professional clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. The different types are: Major Depression, Chronic Depression, Atypical Depression, Post Partum Depression, Bipolar/Manic Depression, Seasonal Depression, and Psychotic Depression. Unfortunately depression cannot resolve itself and if left untreated it could worsen causing indescribable suffering and may lead to suicide. When the normal feelings of sadness become overwhelming, last for long periods of time, and prohibit normal daily functions it is time to seek professional help. Undiagnosed and untreated depression can be life threatening, more than one out of ten people with untreated depression commits suicide. Major symptoms include but are not limited to the following (these symptoms must be properly identified by a professional):
-  Having a hard time concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions.
- Extreme sensations of fatigue.
- Extreme feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
- Extreme feelings of hopelessness and negative thoughts.
- Inability to sleep or excessive sleeping.
- Irritability and restlessness.
- Severe loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable.
- Overeating or appetite loss.
- Constant aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not go away with treatment.
- Continuous feelings of being sad, anxious, or suffering from “empty” feelings.
-  Frequent thoughts of suicide.
Depression is experienced differently for every person; however these symptoms are common with most sufferers. We all have an occasional time when we feel sad but if these feelings become overwhelming and more of the symptoms appear with greater intensity depression may be a cause. Depression is seen in all ages, children and adults alike can have this condition. With the appropriate professional help depression is curable. Although the depressed person may feel like this misery is never ending with treatment it can be overcome. One of the best methods of treatment is to first identify the cause that induced the condition. Treatment plans for depression must include mental therapy and in some instances medications. It is important to consider a patient’s mental health and coping skills that will give techniques to prevent depression from relapsing. Potential causes and risk factors are listed here:
- Loneliness.
- Lack of social support.
- Recent stressful life experiences.
- Family history of depression.
- Marital or relationship problems.
- Financial strain.
- Early childhood trauma or abuse.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
- Unemployment or underemployment.
-  Health problems or chronic pain.
To reduce the chances of depression setting in we must work on our lifestyles and attitudes. Life choices facilitate the state of mind that we are in. If we concentrate on positive relationships with friends and family, healthy eating, and sleeping patterns we can prevent and overcome depression. Regular physical exercise has an extremely positive effect on our moods and can eliminate almost any sadness that we may face. It is also important to learn how to practice relaxing techniques such as deep breathing, meditations, and prayer. We must manage stress and practice time management effectively when we are trying to improve our moods and ward off negative thoughts that may cause feelings of depression.
If you feel that you may be suffering from depression you can find many resources online that may direct you. It is important to find the appropriate health care for proper diagnosis and treatment. Don’t brush it off as something that will pass; look for help.

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