Depression is fairly difficult to understand. First of all, it's too wide to put it under a specific category. Just how every person is different, the way people experience depression is also different. There is no set pattern to the onset, let alone what a person might experience as a part of depression. Second of all, there is no standard cure for depression. You cannot treat each person the same way.
With every person the approach, the tactics change. However, one thing for sure is that any kind of mental health issue can only be resolved by helping yourself. It is very similar to how a doctor and medicines help in the recovery of a person from a disease. A doctor helps in guiding you and finding you the right medicine, but eventually whether to take the medicines and motivate yourself to feel better is in the patient's hands.
Similarly, a therapist or a psychiatrist can help you find the right way to deal with your issues. But whether to move ahead or stay there is entirely in your hands. Yet one thing that we should keep an eye out for is how different personalities are affected by depression. Yes!! Depression affects different personalities differently.
This can be linked back in time to Hippocrates, and later Galen, when they argued that particular “humors” were responsible for specific personality types and forms of psychopathology. The idea behind understanding how depression affects different personalities is to one understand the reaction of a person to depression. And two to better be able to analyse someone's behaviour for signs of depression.
This helps us in daily life because people around us might be experiencing depressing thoughts, and it helps us better identify the signs and further help them to seek help.
The Bridge Chronicle spoke to psychiatrist Dr Rahul Khemani to understand how depression affects different personalities.
1. What are the different personality types?
There are as many personality types as there are theorists who have worked on personality. The most famous being the Big Five personality traits. This includes Openness (to new experience), Conscientious, Extroversion (or introversion), Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. These personality characterisations fall on a spectrum. So we all have the potential to be on this continuum.
2. How is the behaviour of people of different personalities different from each other?
The behaviour of each person is as different as you can possibly imagine. We are a combination of these and many other traits. These traits manifest in our day-to-day decision making, thought process, how we relate to others and the world. A very known trait is either being an extrovert or an introvert. We have the degree of either of these traits. And so it can have an influence on my social circle, my career choice, how I choose to spend my free time and so on.
3. How do you identify depression (affected person)?
The common signs include the person expressing sadness, crying, not feeling motivated. The person who withdraws from everyone. They can be low on energy and isn't able to focus on work or studies. There might be changes in their sleeping patterns and eating habits. They might also feel suicidal.
4. How can you know that a person is depressed?
When the person starts behaving differently than they usually do, it would be a good time to investigate. If they start speaking of death and dying it is a sign that something is not right. Look for cues indicating that they are behaving differently.
5. How do different personalities react to depression? What are the signs?
Depression affects everyone equally regardless of personality traits. Certain traits might be exaggerated as a result of depression. For instance, someone who has an avoidant style, might push people away even more as a result of depression. Or someone who has a pessimistic tendency can view the world in a more negative light.
6. How do you deal with depression differently when dealing with a particular personality type?
The goal of treatment remains the same- to reduce the symptoms. There might be additional work such as to change the pessimistic perception or to encourage building a social circle if that is lacking. But overall, the treatment protocol remains the same.
As mentioned earlier, self-diagnosis and seeking help when it comes to mental health is necessary. Mental health is a complex term that can only be understood through professional practitioners. It is also important to seek help at the right time because as we know it, mental disorders tend to show up through years of repressed emotions.