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Depression - When to consult a psychiatrist ?

Depression is a common experience. Sad mood is experienced by loss of any kind and separation from the loved ones. Loss can be financial or of name and fame. Situations as varied as failure in examinations, loss of a job or death of a pet can lead to depression.

Sadness and anxiety are both negative emotions, which lead to unpleasant mood, loss of self-esteem, loss of self-confidence, feeling of helplessness and negative view of the future. Technically sadness differs from anxiety in the sense that anxiety is experienced before the dreaded event and sadness sets in after the dreaded event.

Depression is easily recognized by the presence of sad mood and accompanying psychological and physical symptoms.

- Loss of interest, enthusiasm and pleasure in almost all activities.

- Diminished ability to think and concentrate

- Indecisiveness

- Irritability

- Feeling of worthlessness, loss of self confidence and loss of self-esteem

- Fear of death

- Suicidal ideation

- Decreased energy / tiredness / fatigue

- Insomnia

- Lack of interest in food with accompanying weight loss

- Restlessness manifesting as inability to sit in one place, pacing, hand wringing etc

- Slowing of body movements, slowed speech with decreased volume, inflection, amount and variety of content and even muteness

It is not uncommon for us to experience any one of the above listed symptoms in times of stress and hence the symptoms, which come and go with the situations, do not require psychiatric intervention.

It is only when a number of symptoms persist simultaneously for a period of more than two weeks and interfere with the daily routine life that they merit psychiatric consultation and management.

It is to be noted that a harmless looking depression might be a ‘Major Depressive Disorder’, which is an illness, caused by malfunction of neuro-transmitters of the brain. Major Depressive Disorder many a times is independent of life circumstances as it can set in without incriminating circumstances or adverse life events.

Antidepressant medication coupled with counseling is effective in controlling and managing this disorder.

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