Mental Health Problem: Depression

Introduction

            Mental health refers to the absence of a mental illness or the degree of psychological well-being of an individual. From the viewpoint of ‘holism’ or positive psychology, mental health might comprise of the ability of an individual to enjoy life, and balance between efforts to attain psychological flexibility and life activities. According to Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler (2004) and Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon (2006), mental health can refer to the expression of emotions. According to the World Health Organization, mental health is a condition of well-being in which persons recognize their own capabilities, cope up with the usual life stresses, work productively, and are capable of contributing to the community (Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler, 2004). Mental health is affected by various factors including subjective assessments, competing professional theories and cultural differences among others. These factors are likely to result in mental health problems. Jeffries (2006), in his study, classified various types of mental health problems. Some of the common mental health problems included anxiety illnesses and depression. The findings of this study also revealed some of the uncommon mental health problems that included bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre, 2007). The focus on the mental health problem has increased over the previous decade. Many mental health professional and concerned government stakeholders are focusing on improving mental health and attaining fairness in mental health for everyone. In this regard, this paper provides a review of some of past and existing literature concerning depression.

 

 

Depression

            Depression refers to various mental health problems that are typified by the absence of a positive affect, and low mood (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre (2007) defined affect as a loss of enjoyment and interest in usual experiences and things. Detecting the mood variation between clinically considerable levels of depression and usual depressions remains a problem. As such, many mental health professionals find it best to consider the depression symptoms as occurring on a continuum of severity (Rahman, Patel, Maselko, & Kirkwood, 2008).

In major depressive disorders, mood and affect are commonly not reactive to circumstances (Knapp, 2003; Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre, 2007). As a result, mood and affect in such disorders seem to remain low throughout the course of every day. However, for some individuals, mood changes diurnally, with slow improvement throughout the day only to return to a low mood on waking (Lambert, Whipple, & Hawkins, 2003; Rahman, Patel, Maselko, & Kirkwood, 2008). In some cases, the mood of an individual might be reactive to events and positive experience, though these increases in mood are not sustained with depressive feelings (Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre, 2007).

Causes of Depression

            According to Muijen (2008) and Osborn, Levy, Nazareth, Petersen, & Islam (2007), depression is not caused by one factor. Studies have also revealed that a combination of factors that interact with one another cause this mental problem. The studies of Osborn, Levy, Nazareth, Petersen, & Islam (2007) and Rahman, Patel, Maselko, & Kirkwood (2008) classified the causes of depression into two broad categories: psychological and biological causes. Many psychological and biological causes of depression interact. However, the specific factors that interact differ from one individual to another. According to Rahman, Patel, Maselko, & Kirkwood (2008) and Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre (2007), the biological causes of depression comprise of hormones, brain chemicals and genes.

With regard to genetic factors, depression frequently runs in families (Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre, 2007; Rahman, Patel, Maselko, & Kirkwood, 2008). This suggests that people might inherit this mental disorder from their parents (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006; Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). Scientific studies have also indicated that children might inherit genes that increase the vulnerability to depression from their parents. Nevertheless, most of these studies have maintained that  parents only pass the genes, but not the mental problem itself (Rahman, Patel, Maselko, & Kirkwood, 2008). The study of Jeffries (2006) and Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon (2006) concluded that many people might not suffer from depressive condition despite inheriting the genes from their parents.

With regard to hormones, studies have revealed that there are some hormonal changes occurring during depression (Kessing, 2007; Rahman, Patel, Maselko, & Kirkwood, 2008). According to scientific studies, the brain undergoes some causative changes both before and during the depressive episode (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006; Rahman, Patel, Maselko, & Kirkwood, 2008). During these changes, some parts of the brain are negatively affects. The changes in the brain lead to overproduction or underproduction of some hormones that might be responsible for some of the depression symptoms (Knapp, 2003; Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler, 2004). Medication can be efficient in treating the hormonal imbalance during depressive illness.

Neurotransmitters or brain chemicals also cause depressive disorder (Kessing, 2007; Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). Brain nerve cells communicate using a particular chemical referred to as neurotransmitters. Scientific researchers have believed that there is decreased activity of more than one neurotransmitter during depression episode (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). This interferes with a certain parts of the brain, which control functions like appetite, sleep, sexual drive, and most importantly the mood. According to Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler’s (2004) literature, the decreased level of neurotransmitter leads to decreased communication between brain nerve cells and it is responsible for the usual depression symptoms. Many antidepressants increase the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006).

On the other hand, psychological factors causing depression include thinking, loss, sense of failure and stress. Jeffries’s (2006) study found out that most of the psychological factors causing depression usually go unnoticed. Stress is the most prevalent cause of depression among adults. In Jeffries’s (2006) study, about 60 percent of the participants acknowledged that they have suffered from depression at least once because of stress.

With regard to thinking, psychological studies have pointed out that certain patterns of thinking cause depression. A study conducted by Kessing (2007) and Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon (2006) stated some of the thinking patterns that cause depression. The study found out that individuals who overstress the negative are likely to be depressed. According to Knapp (2003) and Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler (2004), taking responsibility for bad events, but not for good events, is likely increase the vulnerability of being depressed. Lambert, Whipple, & Hawkins (2003) and Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre (2007) also cited that individuals with rigid rules concerning how they should behave are more likely to be depressed than those having flexible rules. Some individuals think that they know what other individuals are thinking. Such individuals are likely to be depressed, especially if they think other people are thinking badly of them (Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler, 2004; Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre, 2007).

It is apparent that a loss causes mental health problem (Lambert, Whipple, & Hawkins, 2003). When an individual experiences an event associated with a loss, it is likely that he or she will be depressed. The experience of loss might comprise of a loved one via separation or bereavement, loss of friendship, loss of employment, loss of face, loss of promotion or loss support among others (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006).

With regard to sense of failure, some individuals might venture their happiness on attaining certain goals such as getting a certain job, earning certain profit amount from a business, or finding a partner (Muijen, 2008; Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre, 2007). For some reasons, if such individuals are incapable of attaining these goals, they might feel that they have failed (Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler, 2004). This sense of failure might result in, or increase the mental health problem. Muijen’s (2008) study revealed that this cause of depression is more prevalent among youths and adults in their early 40s. This is because such individuals are in their productive stage of their lives, which is coupled with the attainment of many goals in life (Jeffries, 2006).

The Prevalence of Depression

            Various scientific studies have revealed that depression and chronic conditions go hand in hand (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). These studies maintain that depression is one of the most popular and possibly dangerous complications of each chronic condition. According to Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler (2004) and Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre (2007), this is because it frequently worsens the condition of chronic illnesses. A study by Jeffries (2006) and Osborn, Levy, Nazareth, Petersen, & Islam (2007) found out that the pervasiveness of depression in individuals suffering from chronic conditions varies from 25 to 33 per cent. Depression is popular among individuals hospitalized with cancer, having recent stroke or heart attack, or suffers from Parkinson’s disease or diabetes (Osborn, Levy, Nazareth, Petersen, & Islam, 2007).

Muijen’s (2008) findings revealed that women are more vulnerable to depression than men are. The study showed that the susceptibility of women to depression is twice that of men. The high prevalence of depression among women is linked to both social and biological factors (Muijen, 2008; Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). This mental health problem usually occurs in women aged between 25 and 44 years. However, the vulnerability to depression among women increases during the years of childbearing. Muijen’s (2008) findings also revealed that about 60 percent of women suffer from depression because of social factors, like stress from work responsibilities and work. In addition, the loss of spouse through death also increases the prevalence of depression among women. According to Muijen (2008) and Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon (2006), this is because women tend to live longer than their male spouses.

Knapp’s (2003) study revealed that most affected population by depression comprises of the young, female, single and low-income individuals. The population of adults suffering from depression is extremely different from the population of adult without any depression symptoms (Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre, 2007; Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). The population of adults suffering from depression includes large proportions of women, younger adults, and single and low-income people. This is contrary to the adult population that is not suffering from depression (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006).

The perception of women and men to depression differs. The study conducted by Kessing (2007) and Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon (2006) revealed that about 43 per cent of female respondents recognize depression as a health problem. On the other hand, about 32 per cent of male respondents recognize depression as a health problem. However, a larger proportion of male respondents than female, about 60 percent, perceive depression as an emotional weakness (Kessing, 2007; Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). About 48 per cent of female respondents identify depression as emotional weakness. Men are likely to exhibit their depression symptoms through alcoholism and anti-social behaviors (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). This is because they are socially required to conceal their feelings.

Effects of Depression

            Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler (2004) and Rahman, Patel, Maselko, & Kirkwood (2008) cited that depression might limit one’s social abilities. Depressed individuals seem to be more withdrawn from their friends, community, and family. For instance, 8 percent of the depressed individuals aged between 51 and 61 years volunteer in their community, compared to 21 per cent of those who are not depressed (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006; Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler, 2004). The depressed old adults are less likely to visit their relatives and neighbors to spend time. This is because such individuals feel withdrawn.

According to Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler’s (2004) research, depressed individuals are never satisfied with life. About 28 percent of the depressed individuals aged between 51 years and 61 years are satisfied with their life in general, compared to about 97 per cent of individuals who are not suffering from depression (Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler, 2004; Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). This reveals that depressed persons are less satisfied with way in which they deal with their problems, compared to individuals not suffering from depression (Hettema, Prescott, & Kendler, 2004; Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). Depressed persons are also less satisfied with their family life and friendship.

Depressed individuals are unproductive because they are less likely to work. Less than half of depressed individuals aged between 18 and 64 years are productive, compared to over 76 per cent of individuals who are not suffering from depression (Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon, 2006). According to Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon (2006), the difference between depressed and non-depressed individual in terms of productivity in later years becomes extreme. For instance, only 31 percent of depressed individuals aged between 45 and 64 years are productive, compared to the 70 per cent of non-depressed individuals. The study of Araya, Flynn, Rojas, Fritsch, & Simon (2006) and Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre (2007) also revealed that depression restricts the amount and type of work that can be done by an individual. Majority of depressed individuals and not working are restricted to the work they can do. In severe cases, depression might lead to complete withdrawal from work (Ryan, Hatfield, Sharma, Simpson, & McIntyre, 2007; Rahman, Patel, Maselko, & Kirkwood, 2008).

Conclusion

            This paper has reviewed both past and existing literatures on depression, which is a mental health problem. Mental health is a condition of well-being in which persons recognize their own capabilities, cope with the usual life stresses, work productively, and are capable of contributing to the community. Depression refers to various mental health problems that are typified by the absence of affect, and low mood and low mood. Studies have also revealed that a combination of factors that interact with one another cause this mental problem. Many psychological and biological causes of depression interact. Depressed individuals seem to be more withdrawn from their friends, community, and family. Depressed individuals are unproductive because they are less likely to work. Less than half of depressed individuals aged between 18 and 64 years are productive, compared to over 76 per cent of individuals who are not suffering from depression. People might inherit this mental disorder from their parents. Scientific studies have also indicated that children might inherit genes that increase the vulnerability to depression from their parents. Depressed individuals are never satisfied with life. Majority of studies have also argued that support from family and friends can help prevent the condition from worsening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

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Rahman, A., Patel, V., Maselko, J., & Kirkwood, B. (2008). The neglected ‘m’ in MCH programmes–why mental health of mothers is important for child nutrition.  Med Int Health , 13, 579-583.

Ryan, T., Hatfield, B., Sharma, I., Simpson, V., & McIntyre, A. (2007). A census study of independent mental health sector usage across seven Strategic Health Authorities. Journal of Mental Health , 16, 243-253.

Thornicroft, G., & Tansella, M. (2004). Components of a modern mental health service: Components of a modern mental health service:Overview of systematic evidence Overview of systematic evidence. Brit J Psych , 185, 283-290.

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