Depression – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. Each and every year over 17 million American adults experience a period of clinical depression. Depression is very common and affects as many as one in eight people in their teen years. Depression affects people of every color, race, economic status, or age; however, it does seem to affect more females than males during adolescence and adulthood.

Depression can interfere with normal functioning, and frequently causes problems with work, social and family adjustment. Serious depression can destroy family life as well as the life of the depressed person.

Types of depression are :-

Major depression

Dysthymia

Bipolar disorder

Causes

The causes are complex. It may be a combination of changes in circumstance, changes in the chemical balance of the brain cells, and genetic factors may also be involved. There are several different types of depressive disorders, including major depression and manic-depressive disorder.

Some things that increase the risk of depression are:

* A past experience of depression
* A family history of depression
* Loss or stress, including unemployment, loneliness, lifestyle changes or relationship problems
* Feeling at odds with your environment
* Psychological or physical trauma in the past
* Physical illness or long-term health problems.

Symptoms

There are a number of possible symptoms of depression. To be diagnosed with depression, a person must have several of these symptoms at once, including depressed mood, or loss of interest or pleasure in activities.

Symptoms and signs of depression are the following:

* Persistent sad, anxious
* Feelings of hopelessness
* Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
* Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
* Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
* Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
* Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
* Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
* Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
* Restlessness, irritability
* Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.

Treatment

There are many treatments available for depression, including counselling and medicines, but the first step is always to get a physical and psychological assessment to find out whether you have a depressive illness. Therapy usually includes antidepressant medication and supportive care such as psychotherapy.

Your doctor may initially prescribe a stimulant such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Dextrostat) or modafinil (Provigil) if you can’t take antidepressants because they’re contraindicated due to another medical condition.

Hospitalization may be necessary if you show warning signs of suicide, such as thoughts or plans about harming yourself or another person, detachment from reality (psychosis), or excessive use of alcohol or drugs.