Mental Health and Depression

Mental Health and Depression

Mental health is an important component of overall wellbeing throughout the lifespan, beginning in childhood and adolescence and continuing into adulthood. Mental health encompasses emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing and affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts, cope with stress, interact with others, and make healthy choices. Good mental health is essential for leading a happy and fulfilling life.

Alteration in mental health- Although poor mental health and mental illness are often interchangeable but are not always the same, a person with poor mental health may not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Similarly, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience episodes of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. It is important to know that a person’s mental health can alter over time, depending on many factors. 

Importance of mental health- Mental and physical health is significant elements of overall health. For example, depression boosts the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the onset of chronic conditions can increase the risk of mental illness.

Cause of mental illness- There is no single cause for mental illness. Numerous factors can contribute to the risk of mental illness, such as

Early life experiences, like trauma or a history of abuse

Persistent (chronic) medical conditions, like cancer or diabetes

Biological aspects or chemical imbalances in the brain

Use of alcohol or drugs

Experiencing feelings of loneliness or isolation


Depression (major depressive disorder) is a frequent and serious medical illness that adversely affects a person’s feelings, thinking, and activity. Depression leads to sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities the person once enjoyed. It can cause a spectrum of emotional and physical problems and can decrease workability.

Symptoms of Depression-

Symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe and can include the following:

Experiencing a depressed mood or feelings of sadness 

Lacking interest or pleasure in activities once relished.

Shifts in appetite causing weight loss or gain.

Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

Loss of energy or increased fatigue

Noticeable increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., unable to sit still, pace, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech

Feeling worthless or guilty

Difficulty in thinking, concentrating, or making decisions

Thoughts of death or suicide

These symptoms must be at least two weeks in duration and represent a change in one’s previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression.

Contributing and risk factors for depression-

Depression is a complex condition, resulting from a combination of social, psychological, and biological factors. Those who have gone through difficult life experiences (such as job loss, bereavement, or a traumatic event) are more prone to developing depression. This can in turn lead to more stress and dysfunction, worsening the affected individual's condition. Additionally, there is a strong relationship between depression and physical health; for instance, cardiovascular disease can lead to depression and vice versa.

The risk factors for depression are-

Personal/family history of depression

Major life changes, trauma, or stress

Certain physical illnesses and medications

Depression Treatment-

Depression is among the most treatable mental disorders. Nearly 80% to 90% of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment, and almost all gain some relief from their symptoms. Before a diagnosis or treatment, a health professional conducts a thorough diagnostic evaluation, including an interview and a physical examination. Sometimes, they might prescribe a blood test to ensure the depression is not due to a medical condition like a thyroid problem or a vitamin deficiency. The doctors may use the following therapies or their combinations to manage depression-

• Medication

The physician may prescribe antidepressants or other psychotropic medications to help alleviate the symptoms of depression. Psychiatrists usually recommend patients continue their medications for six or more months after the symptoms have improved. 

• Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” can be utilized alone or with medications. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can also be used to treat depression. Psychotherapy may even involve other close relationships. Treatment can take a few weeks or much longer, depending on the severity. 

• Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

It is reserved for patients with severe major depression who have not responded to other treatments. It involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anaesthesia, performed two to three times a week for six to 12 sessions. 

Beyond Treatment: Things to do yourself-

Once the treatment is initiated, the person will gradually feel better. Here are some tips that may help the person while seeking treatment for depression:

Get some physical activity. Walking for just 30 minutes a day can boost mood.

Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and follow the same bedtime and wake-up time each day.

Eat regular and healthy meals.

Connect with others, and talk with trustworthy people about how you feel.

Postpone important decisions, like getting married or divorced or changing jobs, until you feel better.

Avoid alcohol, nicotine, or drugs, including nonprescribed medications.

The bottom line-

It is important to take care of your mental health just as you take care of your physical health. This can include practices such as reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities you enjoy. Taking these steps can help to maintain a healthy mental state. A person experiencing the symptoms of depression should not overlook them but seek medical consultation at the earliest to keep up with family and workplace engagements. Also, do not hesitate to help your dear ones if you observe they might be struggling with depression.

Mrs. Mayuri Mathur

Mrs. Mayuri Mathur is a Senior Medical Writer (Patient education and digital) and seasoned content creator with a rich tapestry of expertise spanning over ten years. With a diverse background in content creation, she brings a wealth of experience to the table, from crafting insightful medical articles to developing comprehensive patient education materials, dynamic press releases, and captivating brochures and website content. Throughout her illustrious career, she has demonstrated an exceptional knack for distilling complex medical concepts into easily understandable content, making her a trusted resource for both professionals and lay audiences alike. Her meticulous attention to detail and innate creativity have enabled her to deliver content that not only informs but also engages and inspires. Whether elucidating intricate medical procedures or crafting compelling marketing materials, her versatility and dedication shine through in every project she undertakes. Her passion for writing, coupled with her profound understanding, makes her an invaluable asset to any team or project. In a constantly evolving digital landscape, where effective communication is paramount, Mrs. Mayuri Mathur stands out as a beacon of excellence, consistently delivering top-notch content that resonates with audiences across diverse platforms.

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