Depression is a mood disorder also referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder. For some people sadness comes out of nowhere and is often triggered by something simple. Many people with depression lack energy and have trouble thinking and concentrating, as well as losing interest in daily activities.
Over sixteen million people nationwide experience depression. However, depression is a treatable condition with the proper medications and treatment plan.
The following conditions are associated with higher rates of depression:
How Do You Know
If You Have Depression
A thorough understanding of symptoms, medical history and mental health history assists in diagnosing depression. To receive a diagnosis of depression, you must have five depression symptoms every day, nearly all day, for at least two weeks.
The symptoms of depression can vary depending on the type and range from mild to severe. Symptoms generally include the following:
- Feeling sad, hopeless or worried;
- Not enjoying the things previously brought;
- Being irritated or frustrated;
- Eating too much or too little;
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia);
- Sleeping too much (hypersomnia);
- Low energy or fatigue;
- Difficult time concentrating and making decisions;
- Experiencing physical symptoms (headache, stomachache); and
- Having thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Cause of Depression?
Researchers think several factors contribute to depression as follows:
- Brain Chemistry: An imbalance of neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) contribute to the development of depression;
- Genetics: If there is a first-degree relative with depression, the chance of developing depression is three times as likely as opposed to the general population;
- Stressful Life Events: Triggers for depression include death of a loved one, trauma, divorce, isolation and lack of support;
- Medical Conditions: Chronic pain and chronic conditions like diabetes can lead to depression;
- Medication: Depression can be associated with side effects of some medications; and
- Substance Use, including alcohol, can also cause depression or make it worse.
Management and Treatment
Depression is one of the most treatable mental health conditions with approximately 80% to 90% of people who seek treatment respond well to treatment. Treatment options include:
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy (talk therapy) helps identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Therapies include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT);
- Medication: Antidepressants can help change the brain chemistry that causes depression. Some antidepressants have side effects which can improve with time;
- Complementary Medicine: People with mild depression or ongoing symptoms can improve their well-being with acupuncture, massage, hypnosis and biofeedback; and
- Brain Stimulation Therapy: Types of brain stimulation therapy include ECT, TMS and VNS.
The following lifestyles can help reduce symptoms of depression:
- Maintaining a Healthy Sleep Routine;
- Managing Stress with healthy coping mechanisms;
- Regular Exercise;
- Healthy Diet;
- Meditation; and
With proper diagnosis and treatment, most people with depression live healthy, fulfilling lives. It is important to seek medical help as soon as symptoms begin again.
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