When the negative reactions to life`s situations become repetitively intense and frequent we develop symptoms of depression. Life throws up innumerable situations, which we greet with both negative and positive emotions such as excitement, frustration, fear, happiness, anger, sadness, joy et al. Depression is prevalent among all age groups, in almost all walks of life. Persons of any age—children or adults, may develop depression symptoms. Even minor stress events can stir up depression symptoms depending on the personality type. Symptoms such as intense sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, sleep disturbances or oversleeping, change in appetite and decreased energy level; feelings of helplessness and thoughts of suicide are sequels to stress induced depression. The Juvenile Angle According to Dr Sharad Chandra, a practicing psychiatrist in India, depression is an abstract feeling and cannot be recognized as such by children below the age of eight. As in adults various stress factors create depression in children. The most critical period is that of puberty where a child undergoes many hormonal changes and is especially prone to mood fluctuations and social withdrawal. Inabilty to understand the problem and immaturity often lead them to suicides. In New Delhi, India, alone there were 15 cases of exam-related suicide cases in 1997. Sarthak, a NGO in New Delhi, had set up a 24 hour hotline called Operation Hope for students to cope with exam results in the same year. It received almost 2,000 calls from all over India. Five hundred of these came from teenagers with suicidal tendencies. According to Arpita, a member of the NGO, 'in such situations, parents need to understand their children instead of criticizing them for not being up to the mark'. The Feminine Angle Dr. Sadhana Vohra, a psychologist in India, feels that by nature women might not be prone to depression, but the society makes them so. Women, in these days, have a lot of balancing to do between home and workplace, including balancing between social and personal requirements. It has the ingredients to create a lot of stress in women that can easily lead them to depression. 'A working women has to do better than men to be noticed and appreciated. And if that wasn`t tiring enough, a woman is still expected to look after the household by the in-laws as well as the husband,' says Maya Srinivasan, an executive in a multinational firm. 'This continuous tension of having to balance the two aspects of my life makes me feel useless and exploited. I am not normally prone to depression, but lately, Ive begun to feel a certain amount of frustration.' Men Are Equally Prone To It It has often been stated that women are more prone to depression than men. But Dr. R.K. Singh, professor and head of the department of psychiatry in Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, India, feels that this might be a wrong assumption. 'Men are conditioned to deny their feelings whereas a woman feeling slightly upset is more likely to say that she is depressed. A man may express the same feeling either through anger or alcoholism. This doesn`t mean that men feel any less depressed than women,' he argues. Many factors such as job stress, strained family relationships or sometimes stress from `midlife transitions` plunge men into depression. Then exactly what causes depression? Researchers and medical practitioners are of the opinion that there is no one cause to the condition of depression. As depression is closely linked with one`s mental disposition or inner personality, the road to this condition is complex and subtle. Often, the physiological constitution of an individual decides the tendency towards depression. The coordinated working of brain and various neurotransmitters prompts all decisions for action and reaction. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help different areas of the brain to communicate with each other. If these chemicals are low then miscommunication can occur and one may show signs of depression. This type of depression may run in the family. Additional factors, possibly stresses at home, work, or school, precipitate its onset. Difficulty in decision-making, lack of energy, loss of interest in normal pleasurable activities, poor sleep and appetite, irritation and frustration are some of the symptoms that arise from biological depression. All human beings are not equipped to take on changes or difficult situations in life, naturally. Out of them, many don`t adapt to those situations. The result normally is— those situations and accompanying stress overwhelm people. Since modern times stress has been identified as the single biggest contributor to depression. The mind-boggling changes in every sphere of life—culture, profession, modes of transportation and rapid lifestyle changes put pressure on men to adjust with equal speed. Stress begins to wear them out and there is a loss of resiliency against adverse situations of life. Consequently, they begin to pull away from others and give in to depression. It is often said that people think themselves into depression. The thinking pattern of a person helps him accept or avoid a stress situation. If one shows disposition towards anxiety, worry, restlessness, anger and tension as stress responses, it can lead him to chronic emotional turbulences. We can worsen an ordinary sorrowful situation by imagining its possible intensity. We create problem situations by imagining what might go wrong, could go wrong, and how terrible it would be. Even if the depression is due to biochemical imbalances, the person doesn`t abstain from thinking negatively about it. Constant stressful situations make one develop a negative pattern of thinking, which gives in to depression at the slightest provocation in life. At present, a whole lot of holistic therapies are applied to heal acute and chronic depression. Besides prescription drugs, healing methods such as naturopathy, energy balancing, and yogic techniques are extensively and effectively utilized all over the world. Adopting a positive lifestyle helps you develop a healthy mind-body frame to avoid depression.
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