Depression – disease or sign of weakness? - Riga Stradiņš University

Depression – disease or sign of weakness?

11:04, 18 December, 2015
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elmars-rancansAccording to RSU researchers, each year the number of people sufferig from depression in Latvia reaches 115,000, and over the past ten years the issue of defining depression has become more topical as nearly everybody has experienced depression-related feelings, such as melancholy, despondency etc. Professor and psychiatrist Elmārs Rancāns, head of the Department of Psychiatry and Narcology (pictured), encourages not to indulge in stereotypes that depression is a representation of laziness or weakness of character and reminds that depression should be treated.

“I believe that anyone at least once in a lifetime for a while has felt depressed or low-spirited. The question is when bad mood turns into something more. We may refer to depression as a disease as soon as a person has been experiencing these feelings every day or at least for two weeks in a row – a person feels depressed, gloomy, lacks joy of living and has lost interest in things that he or she once found enjoyable,” says RSU professor Elmārs Rancāns.

A person might suffer from depression and others might even not notice it. Besides, people even can live with a range of symptoms without ever realising they are depressed and blaming burnout at work, bad material condition etc.

“In such cases we often hear others saying: “Come on, get yourself together! Deal with it”. One might call it laziness, others – weakness of character. However, it is essential to keep in mind that depression is a tough burden that has overmastered a person and brought him or her to knees. It is like constantly dragging a heavy backpack. You may struggle and still go forward, but you cannot enjoy life. Therefore, in case of doubts whether the depression-related feelings are short term or something that is more serious, it is essential that a person turns to professionals for consultation. To be on the safe side, it is worth checking,” claims the psychiatrist.

“This year we carried out a research within the programme “Biomedicine” in the practices of family physicians and established that one of ten patients who turned to family practitioner suffered from depression. In other words, the number of patients per year who suffer from depression and are in need of immediate treatment and turn to family physicians reaches 70,000,” says professor Rancāns.

Timely diagnosis of depression is critical. “We should bear into mind that depression is not synonymous to weakness of character, it is disease that affects many people who are in need of professional attention. Therefore, please seek medical assistance!”

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