SELF DIAGNOSIS IS THE KEY
[PSYCHIATRY], MIPS, MAPA, AIASP, MCSEPI, MWASH
is most commonly used and misunderstood term. Every body has heard
this word but nobody is aware what Depression exactly means and how
one feels when he/she is depressed, or is aware how a loved one of
his feels when depressed. The reason is simple- extreme lack of
awareness about Psychiatric illnesses among common people and even
doctors because Psychiatry covers very less portion of the medical
curricula. The awareness is so less that a person who himself is
suffering from depression does not knows what exactly has happened
to him and where to go for treatment that has happened to him
say that in today's era every person should be aware of the common
psychiatric disorders and should know how to self diagnose them.
I shall mention here the major signs and symptoms of depression
so that even a layman can diagnose himself as well as others of the
world's commonest illness- Depression. To diagnose depression there
should be presence of the following signs and symptoms for a period
of at least 2 weeks. The intensity of depression varies from mild to
severe depending on the level it affects your social and
Depression consists of persistent sadness of mood
i.e. not feeling happy [there can be or can not be some reason
behind it]. He is unable to cheer up even in happy circumstances or
in situations he use to feel happy before. He feels gloomy, talks
less and there is no shine on his face or in eyes. He sits with a
stooped posture and has a tense looking appearance.
The patient looses interest in the pleasure activities,
in which he had interest before like going out with friends,
watching movies, TV, sexual activities or sitting among the family
members and talking leisurely. He even looses interest in the
routine work /activities of life and like to remain aloof or away in
his own. He starts avoiding work and take frequent leaves. He
himself also feels dull and out of life but still does not know what
has happened to him.
A depressed patient has recurrent body aches and pains and
feels fatigued most of the time. He has a sense of general weakness
and feels that now on working he gets tired easily than before. He
also can't work enthusiastically and at that fast pace as before. He
for his weakness go on taking tonics / vitamin pills or anti-pain
tablets but without any results. This weakness hampers even his
The victim has a disturbed pattern of sleep; there
is either a delay in sleep onset or repeated awakenings at night or
early awakening in the morning. Patient although sleeps at night but
in the morning does not feel like he has slept and is not fresh so
he wants to remain lying on the bed. Some patients even show
increase in sleep, they can sleep at any time in the day and has a
feeling of lethargy during the whole day.
A depressed one also has less appetite, basically
there is lost of interest in eating. Although he feels hungry but
does not have the 'mood' to eat. He eats forcibly as the mealtime
approaches. Thus patient looses considerable weight. Some of the
patients feel relaxed on eating and thus eat more and gain
The patient has difficulty in concentrating in his
work/studies. He finds that the mind go on wandering here and there
when he tries to concentrate. There are many useless thoughts in his
mind and he finds it difficult to control them. The thoughts are
either without any meaning i.e. are about one has done in the day
passed or is going to do in the day to come or the are pessimistic,
not pleasant and are disturbing.
A depressed patient also has weak memory and
forgets most often like about the routine works /chores, he forgets
even after placing the household articles here and there. Again
search for memory enhancing drugs is there and that too without any
The depressed person gradually shows a progressive loss
in his patience and start getting irritable very easily.
He easily gets angry and abusive at minor conflicts or even in
routine talks. He has no patience to discuss the matters with others
and on doing so gets irritated. The person becomes very touchy and
if some conflict occurs with anybody he is unable to forget about
that thing and the situation go on coming to his mind repeatedly and
he feels a lot of mental pain and discomfort. He some of the time
gets very emotional and weeps
There is also a new development in the form of headache,
which is dull [not sharp], of continuous type and the patient feels
as if one tight band is tied all around his head. The head aches,
mostly in the temples, behind the head, in the neck and up to lower
back even. But the underlying cause of depression is not diagnosed
and patient and the doctor go on treating it superficially in the
form of neck ache and backache.
Some of the patients complain heaviness of head, mind
going blank and say they have no thoughts in mind. So they speak
very less and there is a long pause before they respond back, as
they take time to think and collecting the ideas. These people also
have extreme slowing of the body movements and thus walk and talk
very slowly and at a very low volume.
Patient of depression always has a low self-esteem.
He loses confidence in himself and shows helplessness and inability
in completing the jobs, which he use to do before. He feels he is
not doing it right and there might be some mistake in it. On
explaining he is unable to found any reason that why he is doubtful
of his abilities now.
He grades himself inferior to others. One feels
less attractive in himself, less appealing to others and does not
talk much in a gathering/company of others, as he feels he will say
something that others will not like He believes he cant succeed in
competitions and can't meet other challenges in life too. He treats
himself a useless person and believes that he cannot do any thing,
which can be productive for him and his family.
depressed person has no interest in the sexual play and
avoids it. Males develop either loss of erection or are unable to
sustain in or premature ejaculation. Females give no response to her
partner's demands. Even if sexual contact takes place, it is without
any pleasure. Thus the sexual life almost ends or becomes boring
He predicts a negative outcome of the future
also and feels that nothing positive or good can happen to him now
and in future. If he is facing a problem currently, he is not
hopeful of getting it solved in the time to come. He even feel that
there is no cure to his illness and does not go to the doctor for
treatment or refuses to take the medicine.
Suicidal tendency: The patient start believing
that there is no meaning left in the life now. It's not worth living
and the circumstances around him are so much worsened that its
better he should end his life now and that is the only solution to
everything. He would start planning how to end his life and soon the
day comes when he tries to implement his ideas. If the patient is
saved then there are chances that he can repeatedly do so. All such
attempts are with planning and done whole-heartedly and most of
times he makes it sure that he should die. In severely depressed
cases even on willing the patient does have so much courage to
fulfill his wish so in such cases the patient attempts suicide when
he gains courage i.e. while he is under treatment. So one has to
keep a close watch always.
PANIC ATTACKS / ANXIETY
is quiet an overlapping between anxiety and depression as most of
patients with depression also star t suffering from anxiety symptoms
or from full fledged panic attacks. The anxiety symptoms are very
disturbing and sometimes the come sonly with them and is unaware of
the underlying depression.
Symptoms of panic attack which all of you can experience
People with panic disorder have
feelings of terror
that strike suddenly and repeatedly
with no pre warning. It cant be predicted
when an attack will occur. One can be totally free from
worry/tension, enjoying a party or working in office in his normal
routine when a panic attack can strike.
Once panic attack had occurred the person
develops intense feeling of fearfulness,
worrying when and where the next one will strike.
If you are having a panic attack, most likely your heart will
beat faster and louder. You will start having a sense of fearfulness
that u will die now or will have loss of control . You may
genuinely believe you 're having heart attack or
losing your mind, or are on the verge of death.
feel sweating in hands and feet [cold
weak, faint, or dizzy.
Or have light-headedness or feel you are
floating in air.
is trembling in hands and legs and also there is dryness
of mouth i.e. patient had repeated desire to take sips of water.
hands may tingle or feel numb, and you might feel a sense
of face becoming hot or cold.
You may have nausea, chest pain or difficulty in breathing or
tightness in chest, and a sense of unreality [u may feel
the atmosphere around has changed or u ur self has changed]
Panic attacks can occur at any time, even during sleep. An attack
generally peaks within 10 minutes, but some symptoms may last
upto 30-45 mins.
Panic disorder is twice as common in women as in men. It most often
begins during late adolescence or early adulthood. Risk of
developing panic disorder appears to be
For those who do have panic disorder, though, it 's important to
seek treatment. Untreated, the disorder can become very
Many people with panic disorder visit the hospital
emergency room repeatedly or see a number of doctors especially
Heart Specialists before they obtain a correct diagnosis of anxiety
disorder. Thus they spend lot of money energy without getting any
relief. Such people with panic disorder go for years
without learning that they have a real, treatable illness.
disorder is often accompanied by other serious conditions such as
depression, drug abuse, or alcoholism and may lead to a pattern
of avoidance of places or situations where panic attacks have
occurred. For example, if a panic attack strikes while you 're
riding in an elevator, you may develop a fear of elevators. If you
start avoiding them, that could affect your choice of a job or
apartment and greatly restrict other parts of your life.
IN SEVERE CASES OF DEPRESSION
the severity of depression increases or when patient does not take
treatment for long time or when he start using some drug [alcohol
etc] along with, to get rid of his tension and sometimes even due to
some unexplainable reason he develops disturbance in his thought
process. He interprets the situations around him in a false
manner and acts on them resulting in deranged behavior like:
He would start believing that there is somebody who will kill him,
police or C.I.D people are after him and they are going to arrest
him, so he tries to run here and there, remain fearful most of the
time and tries to hide himself or commits suicide.
He would complain that other people talk about him or make
passes at him or say bad words about him. In such cases the patient
earn quarrels with others go on feeling bad and cries.
Some patients start believing that their spouse is unfaithful to
them and had relations with other people, thus one beats his
spouse most often, files the divorce etc. Patient according to his
sad mood develops the idea that he is the worst person and had done
lot of sins, which are unpardonable, and God should punish him.
He even hears voices when no source of noise is there or
would hear somebody calling his name when nobody is around. In some
cases patient may even land into a stage when he is unable to talk,
or eat or move his body or respond to any change in his
The purpose of the article is to create awareness among people about
the most common illness in the World. If people can self diagnose
the problem themselves, then in time they can save a lot of working
hours and money, as it's a very incapacitating illness. Thus they
can also prevent the after effects of the illness.
HURDLES IN TREATMENT
are some of the inborn beliefs in our society, which prevents most
people to seek treatment, which are:
feel that it is only a temporary state of mind and will get cured of
thinks that his depression is due to various stresses in life and
how can the doctor /medicines will treat him till his circumstances
are not changed.
They do not know to go to which doctor and a psychiatrist is one who
treats this illness.
less number of psychiatrists available
People only know about a psychiatrist is that he is one who treats
mad people and they know they are certainly not mad
Since the depressed patient has no hope of getting cured and always
feel discouraged he has no motivation to take the treatment.
Some people feel that they will be called weak by
others if diagnosed to have depression,
The family members or friends also are unable to
bring the patient for treatment to a Psychiatrist as they don't know
that it's a illness and should be treated urgently.
9. A person who has been prescribed antidepressants should be careful not to take more than what they should, as it could lead to prescription drug abuse and dependency.
HARMS OF DELAYING TREATMENT.
Depression if left untreated for long time leads to permanent
destruction of neurons and decrease in neurotransmitters and a
compensatory increase in their receptors in the brain, which results
Depression becomes less responsive to treatment,
Even if treated, only partial cure is achieved
More amount of drugs or multiple drugs are required,
Depression takes more time in getting cured,
Severity increases with time
Thought disturbances mentioned above could take place,
Depression goes on recurring again and again even after once
can commit suicide during the illness;
Patient can land into the clutches of drugs [sleeping pills,
alcohol, smoking etc] in an attempt to get rid of his mental
long time, which the patient had spent in suffering and
incapacitation, is in bonus.
nutshell self-diagnosis is best and earlier the diagnosis and
treatment the better is the outcome.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT DOCTOR?
need to see a doctor if you suffer from of these above mentioned
symptoms, most of the time and most of the days continuously from
last at least 2 to 3 weeks.
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The chemical imbalance
is caused by the effect of some stressful events that affect
u/disturb you terribly. Such life events cause destruction of brain
cells and also decrease in chemical messengers (called
neurotransmitters) This decrease in neurotransmitters causes
malfunctioning of brain resulting in depression.
decrease in chemicals can be genetic also i.e. transferred from
your parents or grand parents.
It can occur at any time in your life i.e. from your
childhood till death.
neurotransmitters carry messages (nerve impulses) from one nerve
cell to another. There are not enough of these messengers in a
person with depression. Two primary messengers called serotonin and
nor epinephrine, are responsible for your moods (how you feel)
I BE ABLE TO LIVE MY ROUTINE NORMAL LIFE AGAIN?
with proper treatment you definitely are be able to get back to
your day-to-day activities as earlier. Depression is one of the
illnesses in which full cure is possible and you get back fully to
your previous pattern of life and sometimes even better than that.
WILL I SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION AGAIN?
untreated, about 50-60% of the patients have chances of suffering
from depressive symptoms again. Also the medical treatment
recommended to you by the doctor should be continued for at least 6
to 9 months since the risk of relapse is high if the therapy is
stopped too early.
cooperation in the treatment is the most important part of the
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF DEPRESSION IS LEFT UNTREATED?
Prolonged depression can be very distressing to the patient and also
their loved ones. Patients cannot perform to the best of their
abilities in all spheres of life including career and personal
relationships. To make matters worse they may even decide to end
their life and attempt suicide.
Besides, if depression is not treated it may get
aggravated, becomes resistant takes more time in getting cured,
started occurring again and again in spite of treatment it may
aggravate other medical illness like diabetes mellitus, coronary
artery disease and asthma.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I GET SUICIDAL THOUGHTS?
yourself it is a symptom of depression. It is a temporary state of
mind, Remember every depressed person thinks in the way you r
thinking. Get immediate help form a Psychiatrist rather than
following your depressing thoughts. Approach a person, may be a
relative, friend or a doctor himself and let him know about your
thoughts. Leave yourself under the care of either of them.
Is DEPRESSION CURABLE?
Depression like many other illnesses is fully curable. Now days
there is drastic improvement in quality of modern psychiatric drugs,
which had a very high cure rate and had brought improvement in
quality of life.
HOW CAN DEPRESSION BE TREATED?
step is to consult a Psychiatrist. He will diagnose your illness and
will make a treatment plan for you. Treatment of depression involves
medicines and talk therapy. [Counseling /Psychotherapy.] Medicines
treat the chemical imbalance in your brain and talk therapy helps in
resolving the conflicts in your mind. it will help in correcting the
way you think, how you cope up with your day to day stresses . The
combination of Medicines with talk Therapy is ideal and given in
combination and most of the people gets treated.
WHAT WOULD MY FRIENDS THINK, IF I GO TO THE PSYCHIATRIST?
people even the most learned ones are not aware about the treatment
of mental illnesses. There are lots of misconceptions in minds of
people about psychiatric treatments due to lack of awareness and
information about mental illnesses. Even many of doctors are not
well versed with psychiatric illnesses and drugs. So some of your
old fashioned friends may raise their eyebrows and create panic,
which is due to illiteracy about this subject. But actually the
scenario is changing very fast. More and more people are realizing
that most of the mental distress and illnesses can be treated
successfully by accepting treatment from a Qualified Psychiatrist.
So much so that now even school going children are being brought by
intelligent parents when ever they notice some change or downfall in
child's school performance.
HOW DO MEDICINES HELP TO TREAT DEPRESSION?
Medicines being used to treat depression are called antidepressants.
They correct the chemical imbalance in your brain that is causing
depression. These medicines work quite effectively and nowadays all
the drugs are available in India which were only available in
Western countries before and the newer drugs are quite effective and
safer than old medicines. These medicines also have some side
effects. But the side effects y decrease with time. The modern
medicines have far less side effects and are not worrisome.
Antidepressants can show their effect right
away, but it may take 2 to 3 weeks before you see full benefit.
Never stop taking the medicine without checking with your doctor
are a number of antidepressants available today. Your doctor is the
best person to make the ideal choice for you.
HOW CAN MEDICINES TREAT ME WHEN THE STRESSES I AM FACING ARE STILL
already mentioned Medicines correct the chemical imbalances in the
brain and thus help the brain to function properly. Once the
chemical imbalances get corrected you start feeling betterment in
your mood. You will feel like a changed person after u gets treated.
You can now make out that the circumstances/situations that use to
affect u lot in the past now does not bother u after treatment. They
thus increase your ability to deal with stresses'. that you are a
changed person after the treatment.
is a miracle that you can continue to feel good even if the stresses
persist and you remain in the same situation.
WHAT ARE THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR PATIENTS DURING THE TREATMENT?
have to be followed very strictly if you want a complete and
not increase or decrease the doses /number of drugs without
consulting your Psychiatrist.
Medicines are to be taken continuously. Never stop or discontinue
the drugs for even one day without consulting your doctor.
As most patients stop the drugs after they get
improved, they no longer feel that they are ill, so why to take the
drugs any more.
Regularity in taking medicine is must for long lasting and full
not change the drugs by yourself.
While under treatment- Consult your doctor in case:
have some new problem
a change in your signs and symptoms
unable to take the medicine for some days due to some reason
seem to have some side effects of the medicines.
IS THE DURATION OF TREATMENT?
Treatment continues from 6 months minimum from the date of
improvement up till 2-5 years Some patients have to take the
medicine for lifetime. Some of the factors on which the duration of
treatment depends are:
number of episodes of depression patient had
the illness is hereditary
patient is or was taking some drug of abuse
there any identifiable organic cause of depression [i.e. any h/o
head injury, cyst/tumor in the brain or any known neurological
known long standing medical illness like of thyroid or diabetes etc.
patient had psychotic symptoms/suicidal attempts along with.
ALONG WITH THE MEDICAL TREATMENT, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT I CAN DO TO
RELIEVE MYSELF FROM DEPRESSION?
are certain other alternative methods, which work well to prevent
and cure depression, but along with antidepressant drug treatment.
therapies does not fully cure depression but only give an aid to the
antidepressant drugs. Thus the main job is done by antidepressants
These are suggested at certain stage of treatment, as a depressed
patient does not have the energy and motivation to do all the things
Even though there may be occasions where one feels
lonely even in a crowd being alone physically is proven to worsen
depressive symptoms. So as far as possible be in the company of
people you are comfortable with. It helps.
Avoid smoking and alcohol
Props such as smoking, non-prescribe drugs and alcohol can be
damaging . Alcohol, in particular, is a depressant, and despite
giving us a temporary list it can make matters worse as we try to
retain the list by drinking more and more.
Relax with yoga and exercise
Yoga along with meditation rotten helps relieve patients of anxiety
and depression. If you can manage some form of exercise, it will
help you feel better and more positive because exercise influences
the neurotransmitters positively.
Celebrate your holidays
well-deserved holidays or short breaks bring relief by breaking up
the routine, which so easily lets us get into a rut.
Take Balanced Diet
Balanced diet helps to regularize the nutritional supply to our body
and hence helps in relieving depressive symptoms.
Occupy your mind with absorbing subjects, interests or hobbies.
Studying, watching a special TV program or film or listening to
music is extremely useful.
Changing physiology changes one's psychological state as well.
Smiling, laughing an upward gaze and pushing up of shoulders and
chest often change the mental states as well.