Depression is one of the most painful human trials; however, we must not confuse its character with the natural experience of profound grief.
Depression contains grief of an extended duration, but it has other symptoms as well such as an intense feeling of guilt, a lower self-esteem, ideas of self-worthlessness, a lack of interests, a reduction in physical and intellectual pursuits, a diminished appetite for food resulting in loss of body weight, difficulty falling asleep, and a loss of sexual desire.
There are different levels of this disease that can be diagnosed as mild, medium, and serious which can lead to suicide, the latter of which is felt as a form of release from the impasses one experiences.
The loss of the ability to experience pleasure is considered an important symptom and when it is accompanied by the loss of hope for a particular situation to change, then thoughts of suicide develop very easily.
There are various causes that contribute to the development of this emotional disorder. The following, more specifically, are all intertwined:
- Organic factors (DNA, elevated blood sugar, thyroid disorders, etc.)
- Psychological factors (sudden death of dear ones, parental neglect, etc.)
- Social factors (unemployment, lack of a healthy emotional relationship, lack of family support, etc.)
Treatment of depression
It is impossible to use a single treatment for a disorder with so many complex causes. The most common treatment of depression is a combination of psychotherapy and the appropriate medication. The medical treatment lasts several months and aids at restoring brain chemistry of the depressed to natural levels. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, helps the individual look at life’s impasses from another more functional point of view. Psychotherapy also helps in a proactive sense to avert future relapses once the medical treatment has run its course.
Today, when there is a serious crisis of values, working people and their families are faced with very difficult trials.
Today, more than ever, prevention is of the utmost importance. Short term psychotherapy with an experienced therapist, can act proactively because the patient feels that his counselor is genuinely empathetic and attentive to the difficulties and impasses in his life.
I would also like to point out that many organic illnesses are psychosomatic. They mainly manifest themselves as diseases in the body but inherent in them are depression and stress which fuel them. Such diseases are cancer, heart disease, skin afflictions, gastrointestinal disorders, etc. There are more conditions that coexist with depression known by the term cumulative illness, like alcoholism and other forms of addiction as well as personality disorders, etc.
The ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates (460-365 BC), the founder of rational medicine, achieved the harmonious pairing of the anthropocentric science with medical art and philosophical reflection. In fact, he used to say, “Prevention is better than cure.”
The most important thing to keep in mind is prevention because no human is invulnerable to disease. We are emotional beings with specific individual limits of resistance to life’s unforeseen difficulties.
I wish for everyone to live well because then we can all coexist in peaceful harmony.
Spyros Metaxas, psychiatrist/psychotherapist www.anotropia.gr