Depression

What is Depression?

A depressive disorder is a syndrome that makes one  persistently sad and/or have an irritable mood which exceeds normal sadness or grief.

  • Statistics
  • Types of Depression
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Causes and Risk Factors
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Prognosis
  • Prevention
  • Conclusion

depressiondiagram

Statistics

Depression is a major public health problem as it affects millions of people. Approximately 10% of adults, 18% of teenagers and 2% pre teens are said to be affected by some type of depressive disorder. In the United States alone,  huge amounts of costs are incurred each year for the treatment of depressive disorders.

Types of Depression

The three common types of depression are major depression, dysthymia and bipolar depression. These different types of depression vary in number, timing, severity and persistence of symptoms. In addition, there are differences in how patients express and experience the disorder in adherence to their gender, age and culture.

Major Depression

This type of depression is portrayed by many symptoms which will prevail for a minimum of two weeks which will include sadness and irritability. These symptoms will affect one’s work, sleep, eating habits and other activities. Sleeping and eating disturbances can either be extreme or inadequate.

Dysthymia

Dysthymia is a less severe type of depression and is more long lasting than major depression. One may experience persistent symptoms which will not debilitate the person but rather make it difficult for one to perform tasks to his or her potential. In addition, dysthymia will make a person difficult to feel good about themselves. They may also undergo certain episodes of major depression. Such a combination of two depression is commonly referred to as double-depression

Bipolar disorder (manic depression)

Bipolar disorder comprises of a group of mood disorders. It was, in the past, referred to as manic depression. Bipolar disorder is not as common as the other forms of depression and involves mood changes that consists of at least one incident of mania or hypomania and may include incidents of depression too. The disorder is  long term and recurring which may also be dramatic and instantaneous. However, episodes of bipolar disorder is most often reported to be gradual.

 Symptoms of major or manic depression

  • Constantly sad, angry, worried, bad-tempered or irritable or in an ‘empty mood’.
  • Pessimism or hopelessness
  • Feeling excessive guilt, weakness or uselessness
  • Losing interest in activities and hobbies that an individual used to enjoy
  • Unsociable with family or friends
  • Insomnia, excessive sleep or waking early in the morning
  • Loss of weight, or weight gain, reduced appetite
  • Fatigue, loss of energy
  • Fits of crying
  •  Thoughts of suicide and attempts of suicide
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Hard to concentrate and remember
  • Headaches, digestion problems and chronic pain

Signs and Symptoms

Men

Men who are afflicted with this disorder generally have low energy, constantly irritable, episodes of anger, which gets to a point where the individual may want to cause pain or harm to others. They may also experience sleep disturbances, substance abuse and they may also lose interest in activities, work and hobbies which they used to enjoy previously. Additionally, they have the tendency to get into risky practices and work immoderately while undergoing depression. Statistics show that men commit suicide four times as much as women who are in similar condition.

Women

Women, on the other hand, develop this disorder at an early stage. The depressive spells last much longer and recurrence rate is higher in women when compared to men. Women often exhibit a seasonal pattern of the disorder and express symptoms of atypical depression. Individual suffering from atypical depression may display the features listed below:-

  • Excessive eating or sleeping
  • Crave for carbohydrates
  • Gain in weight
  • Heavy feeling in legs and arms
  • Mood changes or mood worsening in the evenings
  • Sleep disturbances where one finds it difficult to fall asleep.

Additionally, women with depressive disorders often experience anxiety and eating problems. Perimenopausal women, which can last for a period of 10 years, are at a higher risk of being afflicted with depressive disorders.

Teenagers

Teenagers who have depression are irritable, disinterested in hobbies and activities they enjoyed prior to depression, undergo weight changes and some may get themselves into substance abuse. Additionally, they may get into high-risk activities, express no concern for their safety and well-fare and are more likely to commit suicide.

Children

Children who have depression may experience the same symptoms that was mentioned above as adults. However, they may experience and exhibit other symptoms along with or without the classical symptoms of depression that was outlined previously:

  • School performance is poor
  • Feels bored frequently
  • Experiences headaches, stomach aches and other physical health related problems often.
  • Displays changes in sleeping and eating patterns.

 Causes and Risk Factors

Some types of depression have been found to be hereditary. This genetic susceptibility is mostly seen to be prevalent with  bipolar disorder. When families with bipolar disorder were studied it was found that those with the disorder have a fairly dissimilar genetic composition than those who are not affected. But it must also be kept in mind that not every person with this genetic composition that causes susceptibility to bipolar disorder will be affected by it. External factors like stress can trigger the illness. Major depression too is hereditary, but in a lower scale when compared with bipolar I or II. Major depression can also occur in individuals who have no family history of the illness.

Stressful or traumatic events in one’s life instigate depression. Financial problems, health related problems, loss of a loved one, relationship problems and other factors that bring about a drastic change in one’s life can initiate depression. Frequently, an amalgamation of genetic, psychological and environmental aspects trigger depression in an individual. Stressful factors that lead to depression occasionally have an effect on some individuals more than others. Minority groups affected by discrimination, individuals with poor socioeconomic status and immigrants are some of the groups of people who are in risk of developing depression

Women are twice as prone to the illness as men, and the reason for this phenomena still remains unknown. Psychological factors play a major role in depressive disorders. The rate of recurrence and severity of depression can be enhanced by many reasons like constant denial of childhood, abuse, be it sexual or physical, individual’s behavioural pattern, and poor coping strategies. 

Diagnosis

If you are thinking about talking to your health care professional about the risk of depression and if you are suffering from it or not, you may want to think about taking a self test or quiz on depression, which will focus on asking you about questions related to the symptoms of depression. Additionally, you may want assess your symptoms and find out if the sadness you feel lasts for a period of two weeks or more. Moreover, you can also examine if this persistent feeling affects other activities, work, school, social life and your relationship with the ones around you.

It is important to understand that only a sound diagnosis by your medical doctor will allow you to obtain the best treatment available that will be appropriate to your condition. Thus, diagnosis will require a complete physical examination and psychological inspection in order to find out if the patient has a depressive disorder and the type he or she suffers from. As episodes of depression can be brought about by certain medications (side effects) and some health related problems; the doctor will work towards ruling out these possibilities through laboratory tests, thorough physical examination and an interview.

The medical doctor will evaluate the symptoms by asking  several questions regarding the duration of the symptoms, the severity of the symptoms and  when the symptoms first commenced. Additionally, if  the patient have had these symptoms before, the doctor will question him or her about the treatment they received. Other questions which are generally asked will be about substance abuse and if the patient have had thoughts of suicide and death. The doctor may inquire about the patient’s family history and whether other close relatives of the patient had suffered from depression and the treatment they had taken, if effective.

Treatment

Depressive disorders that are considered to be severe in its form and are recurrently occurring require antidepressant medications as well as psychotherapy to treat the disorder successfully. Statistics show that when an individual undergoes a depressive episode, the person has a 75% chance of undergoing a second episode in the future. Additionally, if this individual has already undergone such episodes, his or her chance of experiencing a third episode increases up to 80%. Similarly, the chances of having a fourth episode will increase up to about 90%-95%. Consequently, after the patient has experienced his or her first episode, the patient has to come off the prescribed medication gradually, not abruptly. Having mentioned that, after the patient experiences the second or third episode, medical doctors will have the patient on medication for a longer period of time, or permanently in some cases.

During the treatment of depression, patience is essential as treatment will take time. Medical doctors may prescribe a number of medications or antidepressants before finding the combination of medication that is most suitable and appropriate for the patient’s condition. Also, the dosage of the medication has to be increased in some cases in order bring about the desired effect in the patient.

Certain criteria needs to be taken into account before prescribing antidepressants. This includes one’s age, other medical conditions and side effects of certain medications the patient may have. It is important to understand that antidepressant medications for children and adolescents have the tendency of aggravating the disorder rather than treating it. Thus, doctors will exercise some caution before prescribing such medications to minors.  Additionally, the depressed individual should inform doctors of the medications they are under, if they are taking medications for any other medical conditions.

Prognosis


Clinical depression takes place in episodes, when one experiences such an episode, he or she will in due course experience another. These episodes that follow eventually are easily activated compared to the first one. Nevertheless, most patients suffering from these episodes recover from it. Studies have proven that patients who have the mild form of the depressive disorder tend to recover with drugs and sugar pills (placebo effect) equally, without any significant difference. However, those individuals who suffer from a severe form of the depressive disorder are not likely to recover from sugar pills, that is the placebo effect, as mentioned before. Thus, they will require antidepressant medications. Research has also reported that patients, be it teenagers or adults, who have not gotten better when treated with a medication, their condition may improve when they take another medication along with psychotherapy.

Prevention

Cognitive therapy, which involves mental health care professionals teaching their patients thinking skills, have been proven to be effective in preventing depressive disorders. Postpartum depression can be prevented by assisting new mothers adjust and decrease to certain aspects that may lead to depression. These aspects could be poor adaptation to their marriage, little social support or other domestic reasons.

Conclusion

depressive disorder is a syndrome that makes one  persistently sad and/or have an irritable mood which exceeds normal sadness or grief. Depression is a major public health problem as it affects millions of people. Approximately 10% of adults, 18% of teenagers and 2% pre teens are said to be affected by some type of depressive disorder. The three common types of depression are major depression, dysthymia and bipolar depression. Stressful or traumatic events in one’s life instigate depression. Financial problems, health related problems, loss of a loved one, relationship problems and other factors that bring about a drastic change in one’s life can initiate depression. is important to understand that only a sound diagnosis by your medical doctor will allow you to obtain the best treatment available that will be appropriate to your condition. Thus, diagnosis will require a complete physical examination and psychological inspection in order to find out if the patient has a depressive disorder and the type he or she suffers from. Depressive disorders that are considered to be severe in its form and are recurrently occurring require antidepressant medications as well as psychotherapy to treat the disorder successfully.Cognitive therapy, which involves mental health care professionals teaching their patients thinking skills, have been proven to be effective in preventing depressive disorders.

We will be expanding on this important topic in future articles. While I recommend you to register to download an e-book: “Adult Prevention Guide” for better health, a FREE

 

 

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The Team Manager Web Diseases

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