Depression as a topic of study in science has been popular for a long time now as scientists try to find out the exact causes for this. While many theories do exist, further research only proposes newer ideas and theories on depression that were earlier unknown of.
Researchers have now devoted years of study and experimentation in an attempt to try and throw light on this particular emotion of the human mind. The studies have been undertaken at various levels of genetics, neurophysiology and cognitive neuroscience to understand how depression affects not only the mind, but the body as a whole.
The very first diagnosis of depression included prescribing anti-depressants to help overcome this feeling as doctors believed that depression was a chemical response to low levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is believed to be the chemical which when released brings about a feeling of happiness. However, as studies proceeded many researchers have come to realize that it is not just one, but various other factors that lead to depression. In simple words, depression cannot simply be cured by medication and hence should not be taken lightly.
Further, the increase in number of suicides due to depression suggested that this sinking feeling had more to it than one would imagine and further intrigued scientists to believe that depression indeed is an issue to be addressed immediately and that it simply cannot be perceived as a weakness.
Recent results from studies on the mind and depression suggest that the brain, its chemicals and neurons play an important part in manifesting as depression. It is believed that the hippocampus which is responsible for human emotions decreases in size when depressed. This is due to a loss of neurons in this area. Also, further research has yielded a theory that the serotonin chemical produced in the brain is especially useful for regenerating neurons in the hippocampus. Thus, while antidepressants aids as a temporary cure for depression, permanent cure requires patience and a lot of therapy.
It has also been suggested that depression is initiated by a stressor in one’s life that causes them to break down. These stressors may vary from person to person and may have different levels of impact on different people.
While depression as severe or mild may not be generalized or quantified there are a few common signs of depression that one may look out for. These are classified as physical, emotional and mental and are as given below:
The physical signs of depression:
1. Slowed speaking and body movements.
2. Variations in circadian cycle such as insomnia or hypersomnia.
3. Constant tiredness and fatigue.
4. Unexplained and frequent body aches.
5. Changes in appetite and weight.
6. Changed and reckless behavior.
The mental signs of depression:
1. Distracted thoughts and inability to focus or concentrate.
2. Difficulty in remembering small things and loss of memory.
3. Trouble making decisions.
4. Constant anxiety and restlessness.
The emotional signs of depression:
1. The constant feeling of sadness even when everything is going right.
2. Loss of interest and pleasure in the little things that would usually cheer you up.
3. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and low self esteem.
4. Recurring thoughts of suicide and death.
5. Frequent mood swings and feelings of anger and irritability over small issues.