These days, people all around the world suffer from depression. On July 7th, 2019, a man in his 60s killed his wife and daughter in Changwon. He experienced depression and hallucinations. It is easy to find websites where people share their struggles with depression. There are lots of comments saying things like, “I always feel nervous”, “I cannot sleep unless I cry myself to sleep every night”, and so on.
Statistics from the National Health Insurance Service show that in 2017, the total number of people who visited a hospital to receive treatment for depression was 680,760, compared to 587,860 in 2012. This was an increase of about 15.8%.
Depression is a mental illness in which a person feels very unhappy and anxious for long periods of time. Quality of life suffers during these periods. It is different from sadness experienced due to day-to-day problems. If intense sadness lasts more than two weeks, and negatively affects normal mental or physical function, it may be a sign of depression. Although biological factors may play a significant role in the causes of depression, the relationship between biology and depression is not clear. Depression is more of a syndrome influenced by many factors such as genetics, hormones, and the environment.
There are many types of depression. These include clinical depression, high-functioning depression, manic depression, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder.
Clinical depression is also known as major depression. It is defined as a period of two or more weeks in which an individual has five or more of these symptoms: feelings of hopelessness and despair, changes in weight, withdrawing from loved ones, inability to focus, and an increase in sleep. If getting treatment for depression is neglected, symptoms may last for a few years or more. (Source: https://www.psycom.net/10-types-of-depression/)
Another form of depression, known as ‘high-functioning depression’, has symptoms which may be difficult to notice. People with high-functioning depression seem happy and seem to be living successful lives. However, they still experience symptoms of depression, often at times when they are alone. High functioning depression is often associated with perfectionists.
Manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, is a mental health condition that causes extreme fluctuations in mood, energy, thinking, behavior, and sleep. It is not as common as major depression, but approximately 1% of world’s total population suffers from manic depression at least once in their life. Depressive episodes have the same symptoms as major depression: a loss of interest or pleasure in activities, having feelings of anxiety.
Postpartum depression is a type of depression that impacts women who have given birth. Symptoms of postpartum depression include getting angry easily, changes in eating habits, and feeling upset about things that would not typically trigger negative feelings. Not only the mothers are affected, babies also suffer from the negative effects of postpartum depression. Mothers with postpartum depression are more likely to lose interest in their babies, and even get aggressive towards them. Postpartum depression can cause long-term negative consequences to both mothers and their children, so it is necessary for mothers to be aware of this mental illness, and to receive treatment if necessary.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to the change of seasons. Most notably seasonal variations in sunlight. Those who experience SAD have a difficult time adjusting to less sunlight in the fall and winter months. Frequent oversleeping, weight gain, and loss of interest in activities are common symptoms of SAD.
There are self-report questionnaires to measure depressive symptoms, and to identify whether or not someone has depression. One notable questionnaire is called the ‘Center for Epidemiologic Studies - Depression Scale’ (CES-D). CES-D is composed of twenty items, and scores range from 0 to 60. A score of 15 or higher indicates a risk of depression. Here is the self-report questionnaire that is available online. (http://www.ismhc.co.kr/html2/page.html?url=test_ces-d)
Here are some tips to help prevent depression: maintain regular sleeping habits, do regular light exercise, have a hobby, and spend time in sun light for more than 10 minutes a day. However, these are not treatments for depression, but just preventative ways to avoid having depression. If someone is experiencing any symptoms of depression, the best way to overcome them is to get professional help. For more tips to help prevent depression, visit https://terms.naver.com/entry.nhn?docId=3658151&cid=59325&categoryId=59575
Park Jae-seop, a professor at the Department of Neuropsychiatry at the Ilsan Hospital, said, “If you don't go and see a doctor to receive treatment for depression, the most serious problem that you will most likely face is trouble getting through day-to-day life. In serious cases, depression carries a higher risk of committing suicide.” He also added, “There are some people who say that they overcame depression without any medical treatment. However, the majority of people who don’t seek treatment for depression suffer daily because of the symptoms of depression. For a time people may feel better, but depression can recur with symptoms worse than before.”
The ‘Dream Catch’ of Changwon National University provides student mental health counseling services. It could help students who may be suffering from depression. Here is the link to make a counseling appointment: https://career.changwon.ac.kr/counsel/default.aspx?counseltypetopidx=700
By Nam Da-hyeon, cub-reporter email@example.com
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