BY Dr. Sanjiva Wijesinha

 Most people aren’t really sure what depression is and that it can be a serious disease, which cripples previously healthy people… unless it’s managed properly.

This medical condition is far from simply ‘feeling sad.’ All human beings feel emotions of sadness and loneliness occasionally, some more than others. Sometimes, something in our lives doesn’t work out as we expect.

Death or the ending of a close and intimate relationship causes us to lose someone we love. It’s quite normal to experience feelings of grief and sadness in such situations.

However, when these episodes of despair and desperation become so prolonged that they interfere with your day-to-day functioning, as well as quality of life, you could be suffering from the medical condition known as depression.

It’s a very real mental disease that has destroyed the lives of so many people around the world and should be taken seriously. If you feel you’re falling into a cycle of depression, acknowledge the problem and seek help from a trained professional.

Such help is not about loading you with antidepressants – far from it! The right treatment for depression is psychological therapy, which is reprogramming your brain so that it responds in a more wholesome manner to events around you.

Listed below are the typical features of depression. Upon reading this, if you find that many of these criteria apply to you, seek help from an appropriately qualified healthcare professional such as a trained psychologist or your family physician.

STRESSED You become stressed and irritated easily, and even the simplest issues and problems you face during the day become unmanageable. You are so burdened by all the baggage you’re already carrying that anything added to this load overwhelms you.

SLEEPY You tend to sleep much more than usual and find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. You don’t want to talk to people or face your problems, or even live in this world. You dislike reality so much that you find yourself escaping into dreamland or fantasy worlds.

TIRED You’re always tired and unable to get on with what needs to be done due to all the emotional baggage you are carrying in your brain. All the extra effort you have to put in to get through the day leaves you exhausted and drained.

BORED You lose interest in the things you’ve previously enjoyed doing. And you stop participating in the hobbies and interests that you were once so passionate about. In addition, you feel nothing will ever make you enthusiastic or happy anymore.

WITHDRAWN You constantly try to isolate yourself particularly from people you love. This is because you know at the back of your mind that you’re suffering – and you want to spare them knowing what you’re going through.

CARELESS You stop taking care of yourself and your appearance, and even personal hygiene. You don’t love yourself the way you should because your basic sense of self-esteem has disappeared.

DISTRACTED You lose focus and stop being productive, and can’t seem to devote attention to any task at hand.

It’s essential to recognise if you or someone you know is falling into depression. If recognised and treated early, you can reduce the risk of this terrible mental illness progressing and causing lasting damage.