According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affected more than 300 million people in the world in 2020. The WHO has also predicted that, even when restrictions end, the effects on people’s mental health will continue to be present if not treated in time. Which people are affected by depression? We explain:
A disabling disorder
Depression is a very common illness. According to data published by the WHO, it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide. Furthermore, in worst case scenarios, it can lead to suicide.
Lack of contact with friends and family and fear of infection during the pandemic are factors that have contributed to this disorder. These mental health experts tell us how to identify warning signs in our loved ones, and what we can do to help them.
“It’s been proven that social deprivation (the fact that we can’t be in close contact with other people) also causes and leads to depressive states. In fact, this is the only punishment that breaks a person,” explains Marcos Vinicio Vicuña González, Western Region Director of Wellbeing and Counseling at Tec de Monterrey’s Guadalajara Campus.
It’s important not to confuse sadness with depression. “For example, it’s normal to be sad at this time, but it can be managed. When this sadness devastates our lives, we’re talking about depression,” explains Mariana Núñez Guerra, a psychologist at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM).
The expert explains that depression has obvious warning signs such as:
- A lack of energy
- A lack of appetite
- Effects on relationships with others
- Abandoning life projects, withdrawing from activities
- Neglecting personal image
- Depression “is characterized by the presence of sadness, a loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or a lack of self-esteem, sleep or eating disorders, fatigue, and lack of concentration,” says Alejandra Ortigoza López, a psychotherapist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
Which people are affected by depression?
According to the WHO, depression affects women more than men. To this end, “We must talk about women who are living in situations of violence, which has worsened due to the pandemic. That type of environment contributes to depression,” says Mariana Núñez.
The elderly are being affected due to lack of contact with their loved ones owing to the health restrictions.
What’s more, those without a social network that can support them are susceptible to this disorder. It affects those who are in mourning or suffering from complicated grief, as well as people who have had any kind of loss, be it financial or material.
There are also genetic factors that can predispose individuals to the development of depressive disorders, such as when there’s a family history of depression in the immediate family.
Similarly, people who can’t properly regulate the secretion of substances such as dopamine or serotonin require medication in addition to therapy to balance the levels of these substances in their brain.
Depending on the number of symptoms and their intensity, mental health experts can classify them as mild, moderate, or severe. No matter what kind of depression you have, there are effective treatments.
Toxic and depressed families
However, whether someone falls prey to depression or not has a lot to do with their emotional resources or strategies for coping with drastic changes or situations of conflict.
“When we talk about depression, it’s vital to touch upon the issue of toxic families, because these are involved in the acquisition of emotional resources from their members,” says Marcos Vinicio.
How do you know if a family is toxic?
Toxic families don’t allow autonomous development. There’s emotional dependence on family members.
When a family member wants to make a decision, they’re told it’s wrong.
They don’t allow family members to have close ties with anyone else.
There’s no possibility of building resilience.
“Depression is one of the biggest social health problems, but it can be treated successfully by an expert,” says Mariana Núñez.
If you recognize any of these symptoms in a loved one, talk to them, listen to them, and refer them to an expert. There are many free, 24-hour hotlines available or websites for improving mental health during the pandemic.