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Depression: Treatments, Causes and Symptoms

Depression

Depression is a significant and common medical illness (major depressive disorder) that negatively affects your health, especially how you feel, think, and act. Depression symptoms show your mood and functionality. Depression causes loss of interest in activities and feelings of sadness, but it is treatable.

It can lead to physical and emotional problems, decreasing your ability to work. It affects 6.7% of adults in a year, and 16.6% of people will experience or encounter depression at some time in life. It can appear at any time but mainly occurs in the late teens to mid-20s.

Women are more expected to experience depression than men. Some studies show that one-third of the women will experience major depressive episodes in their life. If first-degree relatives have depression, then approximately 40% of the chances of having depression. Some conditions that cause depression to get worse;

  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • CVD
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Symptoms of depression

Depression signs and symptoms can vary according to the severity of depression; some are;

  • Feeling sad
  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes appetite
  • Trouble in sleeping
  • Increased appetite
  • Loss of energy
  • Feeling guilty
  • Feeling difficulty in thinking, concentrating or making a decision
  • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Slowed movements or speech
  • Crying a lot
  • Chronic physical pain
  • Aggressiveness, restlessness
  • Reduces sexual desire in males

Symptoms may last at least after two weeks.

Causes of depression

Some medical conditions, including thyroid problems, brain tumors, or vitamin deficiency, can cause depression or stress. So, it is necessary to rule out the general symptoms. The major four causes of depression are;

  1. Family history (depression runs in families, genetics effect)
  2. Illness or health issue (any illness that causes stress and leads to depression, such as chronic issues)
  3. Medications, drugs, or alcohol (overdose or side effects of medications can cause depression)
  4. Personality (low self-confidence, imperfection, and other sensitive things cause depression)
  5. Brain chemistry (imbalance in brain chemicals can cause depression)
  6. Pain (chronic untreated physical pain for a more extended period can significantly cause depression)

Life events

It has been searching that some life events also cause depression, including;

  • Loss of job
  • Stress at work
  • Isolation
  • Being in a dysfunctional relationship
  • Breakup or divorce
  • Any illness
  • Unemployment for longer time
  • Grieving loved ones
  • And some chemical disturbance in the brain causes depression.

Difference between depression and sadness

Ending of relationship, loss of job or anything, death of a loved one is usually a feeling of sadness that develop in response to situations. Being sad is not depression, and the grieving process is unique and natural to everyone. But both grief and depression may have intense sadness and disengagement from activities. Difference includes;

  1. In sadness or grief, painful feelings come in signals and are intermixed with positive or pleasant memories. In depression, mood and interest can change for more than two weeks.
  2. In grief or sadness, self-esteem is maintained, while in depression, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness are common.
  3. In grief or sadness, thoughts of death are common when thinking of joining yourself with a deceased loved one. In depression, thoughts of death are endless due to feeling worthlessness and hopelessness or being unable to manage the pain of depression.

Symptoms of both are familiar almost, but depression can cause a major disaster. Grief and depression can co-occur, but suffering from depression is more severe and long-lasting.

Risk factors of depression

Depression can affect anyone—it also affects the person who lives in an ideal environment. Several factors can increase the risk of depression, including;

1. Biochemistry

The difference in brain chemicals can cause depression.

2. Genetics

Depression rushes into families. For example, if one identical or similar twin has depression, the other has a 70% chance of depression in life.

3. Personality

People with low self-respect or self-confidence, who quickly submerge in stress and are generally discouraged, appear to be more experience depression.

4. Environmental factors

Continuous exposure to noise, violence, abuse, neglect, or poverty makes some people more exposed or vulnerable to depression.

5. Socioeconomic status

Financial problems and low socioeconomic status may be significant risk factors for depression.

Treatment of depression

Depression is the most treatable mental disorder. Between 80% to 90% of the people respond very well to depression treatment, and almost all patients get relief from depression. Before starting treatment, the doctor makes a thorough diagnosis, including an interview and physical exam.

Blood tests might be required to check for medical conditions in some cases, such as thyroid problems or a vitamin deficiency. The evaluation will provide the recognize specific symptoms to start the proper treatment.

1. Medication

Changes in brain chemistry can lead to depression. That’s why antidepressants are prescribed to help modify the brain chemistry. These medicines are not sedative tranquilizers or uppers and are not habit-forming.

Antidepressants produce some improvement or changes after two weeks, but full benefits can’t be seen before 2-3 months. If the patient feels no improvement after many weeks, they go to a psychiatrist and change the dose of medicine or add other antidepressants.

Let your doctor know if the medication doesn’t work and shows side effects. Psychiatrists recommend taking medications continuously more than six months after recovery. Doctors may be suggested long-term treatment to decrease the risk of depression episodes. Some medications are:

  • Selective reuptake inhibitors (citalopram, escitalopram, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, and sertraline).
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine uptake inhibitors (desvenlafaxine, duloxetine, levomilnacipran, milnacipran, and venlafaxine)
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline, doxepin, imipramine, desipramine, nortriptyline, and protriptyline)
  • Atypical antidepressant (bupropion, isocarboxazid, ketamine)

2. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a talk therapy that may treat mild depression or moderate to severe depression. You can do psychotherapy with antidepressant medications. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is more effective for treating depression. CBT helps the patient recognize the positive things by changing thoughts and managing the behaviors to respond to challenges in a positive way or manner.

Psychotherapy may involve only a single or another individual. For example, family or couple therapy may recognize the issue with these close relationships. Group therapy is also helpful, but people should be motivated and from the high class. Treatment depends on the severity of depression; significant improvement can be seen sometimes in 10 to 15 sessions.

3. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

ECT is a medical treatment that reverses severe depression where the other treatments don’t work. It contains a brief brain electrical stimulation while the patient is in anesthesia. A patient receives 2 to 3 ECT per week in 6 to 12 treatments.

It can be done by a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist, or a nurse or assistance physician. ECT has been used since the 1940s to restore the depression.

4. Self-help and coping:

There are a lot of many different things or ways that people can do to lower the symptoms of depression, including;

  • Regular exercise helps you feel positive and improves the mood
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eat a healthy or well-balanced diet
  • Avoiding alcohol

Other medical conditions

Some other medicals conditions that cause depression are;

1. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Women with this disorder have severe depression, tension, and irritability before menstruation begins. Some common symptoms include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Depressed mood
  • Tension
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling tired
  • Change in appetite
  • Sleeping disorder
  • Sense out of control
  • Breast tenderness
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Sensation of bloating
  • Weight gain

These symptoms occur ten days before menstruation and stop after the menses come. Symptoms can interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress. PMDD affects 1.8% to 5.8% of menstruating women every year. PMDD can be treated by;

  • Antidepressants
  • Birth control pills
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Diet and lifestyle changes
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Get enough sleep
  • Regular exercise

2. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder can appear in children and young ages between 6 to 18. It involves severe temper outbursts and frequent irritability. The temper outburst can be teasing, such as physical aggression towards people. They must frequently come in response to frustration.

During the outburst period, the child’s mood is constantly irritable or angry and noticeable to everyone. It has a significant effect on a child’s life and causes problems. Treatment involves psychotherapy and medications.

3. Persistent depressive disorder

An ongoing or continuous depressive disorder patient has a depressed mood for at least two years most of the day. Symptoms include;

  • Poor appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Mood can be irritable or depressed
  • Overeating
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-confidence
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Feeling hopelessness

0.5% of adults are affected by persistent depressive disorder in the United States every year. Symptoms cause distress and difficulties in all activities and become significant depression.

References

  • https://psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
  • https://www.medicinenet.com/what_are_4_major_causes_of_depression/article.htm
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/depression
  • https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007

 

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