What Is Depression
Depressive disorders, also known as major depressive disorders, cause chronic feelings of sadness or disinterest in life. It affects your emotions, thinking and behaviour and can cause various emotional and physical problems. This post tries to explain depression: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment.
Many people often feel sad or depressed. It is a normal reaction to death or life’s challenges. But when extreme sadness – including feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness – lasts for days or even weeks and prevents you from living your life, it can be more than sadness.
Causes of Depression
What causes depression?
Doctors have not yet identified the exact cause of depression. They believe it could be a combination of factors, including:
- Brain structure. People with depression seem to have physical and brain differences compared to people without depression.
- Brain chemistry. Chemicals in your brain, called neurotransmitters, play a role in your mood. When you experience depression, it may be because these chemicals are not working as they should.
- Hormones. Your hormone levels change due to pregnancy, childbirth, thyroid problems, menopause, or other factors. This can trigger symptoms of depression.
- Genetics. Researchers haven’t identified the genes that can cause depression, but you may develop depression if your partner has it.
Symptoms of depression
According to the DSM-5, the manual used by doctors to diagnose mental disorders, you have depression when you have five or more of the following symptoms for at least two weeks:
- Your mood is depressed most days, especially in the morning.
- Feeling tired or have no energy most of the day.
- Constantly feeling guilty or worthless.
- You feel hopeless or hopeless.
- Making decisions, concentrating, and remembering details are difficult for you.
- You cannot sleep, or sleep very much, almost every day.
- You have almost no interest or pleasure in most activities most days.
- You often think about death or suicide (not just the fear of death).
- You feel restless or sluggish.
- Weight loss or weight gain.
- Irritability and restlessness
- Loss of happiness in life
- Eat more or suppress hunger
- You have pain, headaches, nausea, or digestive problems that do not go away or improve with treatment
- Feeling sad, anxious, or “empty”.
Although these symptoms are common, not everyone with depression will have the same symptoms. Their quality, frequency and duration may vary. Your symptoms can also occur in a variety of ways. For example, depression can be associated with seasonal changes (a condition formerly known as seasonal affective disorder).
It is not unusual for people with depression to show physical signs of the illness. They can include chest pain, joint pain, back pain, digestive problems, sleep problems, and changes in appetite. You can also experience slow speech and gestures. The reason is that brain chemicals associated with depression, especially serotonin and norepinephrine, play a role in mood and pain.
Types of depression
Major depression can manifest in different ways in different people. To clarify the type of depression you have, your doctor may add one or more details. Specificity means that you have depression with specific characteristics, such as:
Melancholy features – severe depression and intolerance to pleasant things and is associated with waking up early in the morning, low mood in the morning, great changes in appetite, and feelings of guilt, powerlessness, or breath.
Abnormal features – depression that includes the ability to be temporarily elevated by happy events, increased appetite, great need for sleep, loss of emotions, and a feeling of heaviness.
Psychological characteristics – depression is accompanied by sadness or hallucinations, which may include personal inadequacies or other negative themes. You believe things that are not true, or you see and hear things that are not there.
Catatonia – a depression that includes motor activity including or without control, involuntary or fixed movements, unstable posture. You can’t move your body properly. You may be restless and unresponsive or have uncontrollable movements.
Peripartum or Postpartum onset – depression that occurs during pregnancy or in the weeks or months after giving birth (postpartum). This is also called temporary depression
Seasonal depression – Depression related to seasonal changes and reduced sun exposure. Your symptoms get worse as the seasons change, especially in the cold, dark months.
Persistent depression – also known as dysthymia, occurs when the depression has lasted for at least 2 years
Situational dysregulation disorder – A disorder in which children and teenagers get angry in certain situations and often have much more anger than a normal child.
Premenstrual dysphoric syndrome, when a woman experiences severe emotional disturbances before her period that is more severe than premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Substance-induced mood disorder (SIMD), when symptoms occur when you take drugs or alcohol or when you stop.
Your depression may have other specific symptoms, such as:
- Anxiety disorders. You worry too much about things that may or may not be out of your control.
- Mixed features. You suffer from depression and mania – a period of high energy, talkativeness, and high self-esteem.
Diagnosis of depression
To diagnose depression, your doctor will use a variety of methods, including:
- Physical examination. Your doctor will check your general health to see if you may be dealing with another condition.
- Laboratory analysis. For example, you can have a blood test to check certain hormone levels.
- Mindfulness assessment. Your doctor will be interested in your mental health and ask you questions about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Alternatively, you can complete a questionnaire.
DSM-5: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In this manual, the American Psychiatric Association lists depression criteria. Your doctor can check your symptoms to see if you fit the schedule.
Treatment of depression
If you or someone you know has symptoms of the disease, talk to your doctor. They can evaluate you and provide treatment or refer you to a mental health professional. The type of treatment your doctor recommends will depend on your symptoms and their severity. This may include some or all of the following:
- Medication. Antidepressant medication (in addition to therapy) is effective for many people with depression. There are many types of antidepressants. You need to speak with your doctor to help you choose the right antidepressant for you. Your doctor may also prescribe other types of medication to help your antidepressant work better, such as a mood stabilizer, antipsychotic, anti-anxiety medication, or stimulant.
- Psychotherapy. Talking to a mental health professional regularly about your depression and other issues can help treat symptoms. Various methods are available, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and talk therapy.
- Hospital and residential treatment. If your depression is so severe that it is difficult for you to take care of yourself or you are likely to harm yourself or others, you will have to stay in the hospital. You may need psychiatric treatment until your mood improves and you are safe.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). This stimulating brain therapy delivers electrical impulses to your brain to help your neurotransmitters work more efficiently. In general, you should not use this treatment if antidepressants are not working, or if you are not taking it for other medical reasons.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Your doctor often recommends it when antidepressants don’t work. This treatment uses coils to send magnetic fields to your brain to help stimulate the nerve cells that control mood.
When to go to the doctor
If you are feeling depressed, make an appointment with your doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible. If you are hesitant to seek treatment, talk to a friend or loved one, a health professional, a religious leader, or someone else you trust.
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