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Depression – A Disease of Modern Civilization.

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You may have already heard the phrase “disease of civilization”. Many scientists and doctors around the world provide evidence that over time western societies introduced unhealthy dietary patterns that lead to so-called diseases of civilization. They define acne, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer as diseases of civilization and they have linked them to large intake of red meat, dairy products, modified foods and of course sugar. People have developed many different treatments, medications, and diets over recent years that help us fight these diseases of civilization. However, there is one more disease that is quite often ignored and underreported. Maybe because its symptoms can often be confusing and wrongly diagnosed as stress disorders or anxiety.

To begin, let’s try to find out what exactly is depression disorder and its symptoms. I will also try to provide you with useful information about how you can distinguish depression from anxiety.

As a modern society we are all exposed to stress which has now become an independent part of our lives. Our fast-paced lives and never-ending to-do lists do not allow us to slow down and take care of our mental health. Stress is becoming a new norm, and even though we notice early symptoms of depression or anxiety, we often just ignore them. These symptoms are seen as “signs of weakness” for many, and we try to tough it out rather than seek help. As you can imagine, this is a huge mistake that can lead to many further and serious problems.

Keep in mind the symptoms I am going to present are only indicators that help you to make an informed decision to see a professional. Yes, your family doctor can perform a complete evaluation of your condition and depending on the results will give you medications or refer you to a specialist such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.

Learning some of the general differences between anxiety and depression can help you better decide what treatment and course of action works the best for you.

There are few different types of anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, or phobias. The list below summarizes some symptoms of generalized anxiety which the most common form of anxiety:

  1. Sleep disturbance
  2. Trouble concentrating
  3. Irritability
  4. Restlessness
  5. Excessive worry
  6. Muscles tension
  7. Easily fatigued

Please remember that if you notice that you have most of these symptoms for prolonged periods of time, it is a sign that you may have generalized anxiety disorder. You should go to you family doctor and confirm this diagnosis as each condition left untreated can lead to more serious problems.

An important thing to note is that it is possible to have both anxiety and depression at the same time. Some symptoms can overlap making it hard to distinguish between the two, and this is why it is so important to get professional help.

Woman, tears, depression, pain, suffering
Anxiety or depression?

Now, let’s see what characterizes depression.

We too often refer to the work “depression” to explain a state of just being in a bad mood. The truth is that depression is a medical condition representing serious and dangerous illness. World Health Organization (WHO) distinguishes 3 basic symptoms and 7 additional ones.

Basic symptoms of depression are:

  1. Depressed mood
  2. Lack of joy
  3. Lack of energy

Additional symptoms consist of:

  1. Negative self-esteem
  2. Feeling of guilt
  3. Suicidal thoughts and behavior
  4. Concentration trouble
  5. Lack of interest in physical activities
  6. Insomnia
  7. Decrease or increase in appetite and body mass changes

Depression is also often accompanied by somatic symptoms like headaches, digestive disorders, abdominal pains or back pains. Specialists say that depression is probable when you have at least 4 symptoms from the list above and 2 of them are the basic symptoms. This condition needs to persist every day for at least two weeks.

Reasons for developing depression are very complicated and vary from person to person. This is why it is so important to recognize depression early enough and get professional medial help. This will allow doctors to choose the most efficient treatment plans and possibly reduce the time of such treatment. It is scientifically proven that depression can be either prevented or treated with minimal impact of these symptoms on your daily life.  On the other hand, untreated depression can become severe and significantly damage the quality of life of the affected person. It can lead to a permanent disability and can destroy friendships or families. Depression also carries a high risk of suicide. This is why anyone who expresses suicidal thoughts should be taken very seriously. Finally, those who suffer depression also tend to abuse alcohol and drugs.

To summarize, this brief post gives you a good amount of knowledge necessary to recognize some dangerous symptoms that you, your family members or friends can experience at some point of their life. You can educate and help others overcome a crisis in their life, and point them in the right direction to seek help when it is needed.  When you are in a severe state of anxiety or depression, your judgement becomes clouded and may not recognize the symptoms until it’s too late. This is why it is so important to raise awareness and educate others. Be there, when your friends really need you.

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