Depression: Why Talking About It Is The First Step To Cure

One person commits suicide every 40 seconds, with suicide accounting for 800,000 deaths around the world each year. In India, suicide was the tenth biggest cause of early death in 2016, reported the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, mostly because of undiagnosed and untreated depression.

Globally, depression is the most common mental health disorder, accounting for around 40.5 % of cases, followed by drug and alcohol abuse, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, reported The New England Journal of Medicine

Depression affects 322 million people across ages worldwide, estimates the World Health Organisation (WHO), with 58 million living with depressive disorders in India. More women (5.1%) are affected than men (3.6%), yet women are less likely to seek support and treatment. Even when they do, they are less likely to get treated.

While symptoms vary, most people with depressive disorders experience social withdrawal, low self worth, disturbed sleep, changes in appetite, fatigue, listlessness, poor concentration and irritability. It affect a person’s ability to work, form relationships and function independently, making it the most common cause of disability after heart disease, infections, neonatal disorders and cancers.

Widening net

Increasing social isolation and the changes in the way the world communicates are increasingly leading to the signs being missed. Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, whose own struggle with depression in 2014 has turned her into a relentless crusader against stigma around mental health, says it took a visit from her mother for them to realize she was experiencing more than simple mood swings and needed diagnosis and treatment.

Close to 50% mental illnesses manifest by age 14 but signs of depression in young people are often missed because they are more likely to display symptoms of irritability, anger and withdrawal than sadness. That these signs of depression are often overlooked is evident from the more than a dozen lives that have been lost over the past few months to the blue whale challenge, the online game that goads vulnerable teens to commit suicide.

The shift in how people, especially the young, are communicating is also fuelling isolation in people with underlying depression. Online interactions are superficial than interpersonal bonding that make it more difficult to mask emotions, say experts, leading to increasing social withdrawal and dependence on online social support from groups and administrators who can then potentially make or break young minds.

Depressive disorders are caused by a complex interplay or biological and psycho-social factors. People who have been or are going through adverse life events – chronic illness, unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma, etc – are at higher risk of depression, but the disorder also affects highly-functional people who may be battling feelings of emptiness and inadequacy without a causing ripple in their well-ordered life.

Drugs and treatment are a must if the condition is chronic and lasts for more than four weeks, or recurrent, when bouts of depression occur three to four times a year, or when mental demons interfere with normal function for more than two weeks.

Psychological treatments such as behavioural activation, cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are recommended for mild depression. Antidepressants – such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) – are effective against moderate-severe depression, but are not recommended for treating depression in children and as the first line of treatment for mild depression in adults and depression in adolescents. New drugs, such as ketamine, are offering promise for the 30% people who do not respond to available treatments.

Mood lift

Rising awareness is prompting more people to seek treatment than ever before in urban and peri-urban towns. Physicians wrote more than 9.4 million new prescriptions for antidepressants in 2016, up 12% from 8.4 million in 2015. Antidepressants sales in value in India have shot up by more than 30% over the past four years, up from Rs 760 crore in 2013 to Rs 1,093 crore in 2016.

What has helped to destigmatise mental illnesses is India’s reformist The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 that decriminalises suicide and empowers people with mental health disorders to choose a mode of treatment, refuse institutionalization, nominate a person to ensure their wishes are carried out, and bans the use of degrading treatments, including shock therapy for treating children and using it only under anaesthesia for adults after approval from the district medical board.

Despite policy support and increasingly destigmatisation, psychosocial stressors – social attitudes, discrimination and deprived opportunities – continue to exclude people with depression from treatment, with well-meaning family keeping them locked inside home to protect them from the world. They don’t need protection, they need treatment so they can get on with their lives.


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Can A ‘Depression Nap’ Actually Improve Your Mood?

Maybe you’ve taken one and didn’t know there was a name for it. Or you rely on yours and can’t go a day without it. Either way, the depression nap, a relatively new meme-worthy trend all over social media, has made it to Urban Dictionary and Reddit—so it’s officially a thing.

But is it a good thing? Most of us (except maybe defiant toddlers) would love to squeeze in a nap during the day. But experts aren’t so sure a depression nap—or a quick snooze when you’re feeling like the world is just too much right now—is actually a smart idea.

“If [napping] is being used to avoid doing or confronting difficult things or is being done excessively while connected to depressed feelings or low energy, then it may be a symptom of a psychological disorder such as depression, anxiety, or insomnia,” says Simon Rego, PsyD, chief psychologist at the Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.


Some people who swear by depression naps might feel tired all the time, sleep more than usual, and sleep as a way of escaping what’s bothering them. The need to take a depression nap could signal clinical depression, as excessive sleepiness is one symptom of the disease.

On the other hand, sleeping too little can also be a sign of depression. Some people with depression feel restless and wound-up, leading to trouble falling or staying asleep. If you have a hard time dozing off at night, napping is probably off the table for you: Any daytime shut-eye may only make that process more difficult.

But napping can be good for other people. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a quick nap can improve alertness, strengthen your performance at work and cut back on mistakes and accidents, and, of course, help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated for the rest of your day. Some research even suggests a midday nap can lower blood pressure.

Waking up refreshed and ready to tackle a difficult task is different than using sleep to ignore that challenge entirely, though. “If you’re napping to avoid a task that is difficult, in many cases, that’s not an adaptive way of coping,” says sleep psychologist Kelly Baron, PhD, assistant professor in the department of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Rather than confronting what’s making you feel anxious and getting it over with, you’re procrastinating, which can make anxiety feel worse.


While it’s totally normal to feel a little sleepy during the day—especially in the afternoon, when there’s a natural dip in our circadian rhythms, Baron says—it’s probably not so good if you feel like you need a nap to get through the day, every day. “In these cases, it’s important to seek help from a licensed mental health professional,” Rego says. He or she may even point you to a sleep specialist, Baron adds, in case an undiagnosed condition like sleep apnea could be causing your daytime drowsiness.

If you need an occasional depression nap, there’s probably no real harm to taking a little break from it all once in a while, as long as you’re using that snooze to feel more alert and more productive when you wake. “While napping itself is not necessarily a problematic behavior,” Rego says, “it’s important to be clear on why you’re napping.

Taken from Health.Com



Could We Soon Diagnose Autism And Schizophrenia By People’s Hand Movements?

autismJust the subtlest of differences in the movement of our hands could reveal our inherent personality traits, research has revealed.

By analysing and classifying these movements, health professionals could one day treat mental health conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.

Researchers have shown we all have an individual motor signature (IMS) but people who display similar behavioural characteristics tend to move in a similar way.

A team of experts from the universities of Exeter, Bristol, Montpellier and Naples Federico II, studied how people mirrored each other and themselves as an avatar on a screen.

They suggest everyone has an IMS, or blueprint of the subtle differences in the way we move compared to someone else.

Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, who specialises in mathematics in healthcare at the University of Exeter, told MailOnline: ‘What we found is that each individual has their own preferred style of movement, or velocity profile.’

She said this was the case when participants were tested weeks and even months apart, so in the future individuals may be able to be identified simply by how they move.

The differences may be in the speed or weight of movement, but the study, published in the Royal Society journal Interface, does not go as far as classifying specific movements associated with certain personality traits

‘Although human movement has been well studied, what is far less well understood is the differences each of us displays when we move – whether it is faster, or lighter, or smoother for example,’ said Dr Tsaneva-Atanasova said.

However, she said ‘velocity is one of the main features and is sufficient to get a signature’.

Using a plain mirror game, in which two ‘players’ are asked to imitate each other’s movements, the team showed that while people’s movements were unique, those using similar movements tended to display ‘more organised collective behaviour’ to complete the mirroring task better.

They believe these findings indicate that people with comparable movement blueprints find it easier to coordinate with each other during interpersonal interactions.

‘This study shows that people who move in a certain way, will also react in similar ways when they are performing joint tasks,’ Dr Tsaneva-Atanasova said.

‘Essentially, our movements give an insight into our inherent personality traits.

‘What we demonstrate is that people typically want to react and interact with people who are similar to themselves.

‘But what our study also shows is that movement gives an indication of a person’s behavioural characteristics.’

The researchers think a person’s IMS, together with how they interact with others, could give experts an insight into their mental health and could pave the way for personalised prediction, diagnosis or treatments in the future.

So those who move in a distinctly different way, may have a condition not shared with the majority of a population.

People with autism or schizophrenia, for example, could potentially be diagnosed by performing a simple tactile task, rather than undergoing more invasive tests such as lying in CT scanners, Dr Tsaneva-Atanasova, said.

The research could lead to new therapeutic therapies being developed, such as a computer program where people shy of interaction with others could learn to mimic movements made by an avatar to improve their communication.

‘It could help people with social phobias become more interactive,’ Dr Tsaneva-Atanasova said.

The research is part of a wider EU-funded project called Alter Ego, which is still ongoing.

In the future, the team hopes to study the movements of healthy people and those with schizophrenia.

Taken from DailyMail.Co.Uk