Depression is a common mental disorder and a major public health problem globally. According to the WHO (2017) estimates, 4.3% of the total world population currently suffer from depression. Depression affects people from all socioeconomic backgrounds from early childhood to late ages and is more common among females (5.1%) than males (3.6%). A higher risk and prevalence is seen among those living in nuclear families; those who are unmarried, widowed, divorced or separated, or without close inter-personal relationships and those suffering from other medical disorders.
Depression and associated mental disorders can have a profound effect on all aspects of life, including a performance at school, productivity at work, relationships with family and friends, and the ability to participate in the community. The effects of depression can be long-lasting or recurrent and can dramatically affect a person’s ability to function and live a fulfilling life.
- Depression is caused by a complex interaction of genetic, biological, psychological, social and environmental factors specific to an individual.
- A family history of depression in a first-degree relative increases the risk up to 1.5- 3 times. Patients with a positive family history also have an early onset and increased recurrence.
- Stressful life events such as loss of a parent in childhood, loss of a spouse, unemployment, suffering from chronic illness and caring for a chronically disabled person in family etc often precede the first episode of depression and increase the likelihood of developing subsequent episodes.
- Faulty cognitions with a triad of a negative view of self, environment and future are known psychological factors that predispose to depression.
- Depression can be a vicious cycle, in turn, leading to more stress that worsens the affected person’s life situation, physical health and depression symptoms.
- The patients suffering from depression often present with feeling sad or depressed most of the day; markedly reduced interest in almost all activities nearly every day; fatigue; reduced capacity to think or concentrate, bodily agitation or slowness; disturbed sleep nearly every day; loss of self-confidence; feelings of guilt; unhappy views of future and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide or suicidal behaviour.
- Children suffering from depression may present with irritability, temper tantrums, crying, separation anxiety, physical symptoms such as headache or abdominal pain and poor academic performance.
- In the elderly, presenting symptoms may be psychomotor agitation or irritability, poor appetite, somatic complaints and at times psychotic features.
There are no laboratory tests to diagnose depression and psychiatrists rely on clinical symptoms and signs. Beck Depression Inventory-Primary care (BDI-PC) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) are two depression screening tools that exclude somatic symptoms. Based on the presenting symptoms, depression may be classified as mild, moderate and severe.
The benefits of choosing Homoeopathy for the treatment of depression include:
- Homoeopathy offers “individualized” treatment based on the “totality of symptoms” in “individual patient” comprises of all changes observable in on physical as well as mental/ emotional sphere.
- Homoeopathy has no known side effects. It is therefore also suitable for pregnant women and patients suffering from multiple physical ailments that require depression treatment but are hesitant to take conventional medicines due to fear of side effects.
- Homoeopathy has proven cost-effectiveness and therefore suitable for treating depression.
- Homoeopathy can be recommended to patients who develop intolerable side effects to first-line antidepressants, those resistant to standard treatments and augmentation strategies.