Everyone experiences low mood and feelings of sadness throughout their lives in several phases. While it is absolutely fine to feel sad or low at times or especially after an unpleasant event/incident, if these feelings persist for a long time, it can shape into a mental health disorder such as depression.
Depression is a common mental health condition which strongly affects the patterns in which one thinks, feels and acts. Due to this, depression is also known to be a silent killer with suicide ideation being its most dangerous symptom. According to the World Health Organization (2020), over 264 crore people are currently suffering from depression while 75-85% of cases in India still go unreported.
Although depression is treatable, it can take up to several weeks of treatment depending on personal resilience and the therapist's approach to get back your real self. However, if left untreated, depression can either become more severe or start to exhibit comorbid symptoms such as anxiety, hallucinations or delusions. The more severe it gets, the more difficult and time consuming it could be to treat.
Symptoms of depression:
Depression is a word that is often casually used in the present day without understanding its severity and implications. It is often also confused with sadness or other mental health problems like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders etc. According to DSM V R (2020), the symptoms for depression include:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down)
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
However, experiencing these symptoms do not imply that you are suffering from a mental health problem. To get a diagnosis, we encourage you to see a mental health practitioner.
How counselling helps:
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most widely used approach for the treatment of mental health problems. CBT believes in the interdependence of how we think(cognition), act(behaviour) and feel(emotion). CBT is usually the go-to treatment for depression due to its adaptability to all age groups, genders and backgrounds.
It aims to work on modifying thinking patterns as well as behavioural issues. This is achieved by cognitive restructuring, changing unhealthy thought patterns into more focused and realistic ones with a problem-solving approach.
CBT involves working closely with a psychologist, to identify faulty thought and behavioural patterns that are contributing to the maintenance of the problem.
CBT is also one of the most appropriate approaches to be delivered by electronic mediums (often referred to as e-therapies).
Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is an approach that focuses on personal relationships as the cause for mental health problems and developing skills to resolve those issues. IPT strongly believes that personal relationships have a significant impact on people suffering from depression with a very high potential to be a trigger or a perpetuating factor.
Identifying unhealthy/negative patterns in your personal relationships that can intensify your exposure to the problem by acting as stressors for depression is the major element of IPT. Recognising these patterns is the first step to ameliorate your relationship. It further includes learning to cope with grief, resolving conflicts and developing resilience throughout your journey.
Apart from being the major element of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Behavioural Therapy itself is a widely used approach in the treatment of depression. It focuses majorly on behavioural activation and using reinforcement techniques to encourage healthy patterns of behaviour. This change in behaviour with the use of rewards automatically gives rise to pleasant feelings and reverses the negative patterns.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a form of both group and individual therapy. It is often referred to as a type of meditation technique. MCBT emphasises on focusing on the current moment and being aware of your thoughts and experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant ones. Unlike other therapies, MCBT does focus on changing these thoughts.
It begins by starting to focus on your breath but later moves to allow the feelings and thought fly free. In this manner, MCBT helps to put a stop on thinking about the past or the future leading to putting a break on unpleasant thoughts. This technique has shown significant results in avoiding the recurrence of depressive symptoms by encouraging more observant and accepting behaviour and identifying changes in these patterns at very early stages.