Alternative NamesSeasonal affective disorder
What is Depression
Depression is defined as a mood disorder, and there are several subtypes. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is considered in a separate category.
Depression can be a mild disease that only causes some annoyance in the daily life, but can also get very serious and make a person totally unable to work and unable to participate in social life. By depression of some severity, there is also a greater risk of suicide.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of depression could be:
- Low mood level or sadness.
- Lack of joy or interest in activities that were joyful before.
- Feel of guilt of something without any substantial reason to feel so.
- Inferiority thoughts.
- Slowness in the thought process.
- Slowness in interpreting sensorial stimuli.
- Slowness of digestion or other internal physical processes, and symptoms caused by this slowness, for example inflated stomach, constipation or difficulties by urination.
- Slow physical reactions.
Depression can occur in all age classes. In teenager’s lack of interest in school work, withdrawal from social life and difficult mood can be signs of depression.
Depression is often chronic, with episodes of recurrence and improvement. About a third of patients with a single episode of major depression will have another episode within 1 year after discontinuing treatment, and more than half will have a recurrence at some point in their lives. Depression is more likely to recur if the first episode was severe or prolonged, or if there have been prior recurrences. To date, even newer antidepressants have failed to achieve permanent remission in most patients with major depression, although the standard medications are very effective in treating and preventing acute episodes.
I. Chemicals / Neurotransmitters: Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers, which are critical in the transmission of nerve impulses in our brain and nerves. The level of certain neurotransmitters, Noradrenaline and Serotonin are decreased in the brain. Most of the medications used for treating depression (Anti-depressants) help in elevating the levels of these chemicals in the brain.
I. Genetic: Major depression also seems to occur in generation after generation in some families, although not as strongly as in bipolar I or II. Indeed, major depression can also occur in people who have no family history of depression.
II. Hormonal imbalance: Though the exact mechanisms are not understood but imbalance of female sex hormones can lead to depression. Depressions in the postmenopausal and postpartum (after delivery) period are the examples.
I. Personality/ Attitudes: Following types of personality traits predispose to depressive illness.
- Very ambitious
- Setting very high standards for self
II. Coping strategies with life events:How we deal with stressful events like separation/divorce/death, etc. determines how we predisposed to depression. People who are:
- Self centered
Are more likely to have depression.
Social causes and social supports:
- A lot of stressful life events like death/divorce/disease predispose to depression.
- Interpersonal relationships matter a lot - good relations with the friends / spouse / siblings have a positive effect in preventing depression.
- Single people are more prone to depression than couples.
- Similarly, studies have found divorced persons to be more prone to depression.
You may be able to prevent a relapse or keep your symptoms from getting worse if you:
- Take your medicine as prescribed. Depression often returns if you stop taking your medicine or don't take it as your doctor advises.
- Continue to take your medicine after your symptoms improve. Taking your medicine for at least 6 months after you feel better can help keep you from getting depressed again. If this is not the first time you have been depressed, your doctor may want you to take medicine even longer. You may benefit from long-term treatment with antidepressants.
- Continue cognitive-behavioral therapy after your symptoms improve. Research shows that those who continued this type of therapy had less chance of relapse.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Get regular exercise.
- Get treatment right away if you notice that symptoms of depression are coming back or getting worse.
- Have healthy sleep patterns.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol.
Psychotherapy is a therapy session for people suffering from depression. It is a communication between the patient and psychotherapist. The psychotherapist will try to get the patient talking about the various problems that he/she is going through. This way the treatment will be easier. There are different types of psychotherapy methods used by psychotherapists. Talking therapy is the most commonly used method. In these sessions, the therapists may even involve the family members of the patient. This will help to get a better picture of the lifestyle of the patient and may help to reach the root cause of the problem.
For people suffering from depression due to heavy medications, herbal treatment is the best alternative. You can help improve the mood of a person by increasing the serotonin level in the body, which eventually will improve the mood of the patient drastically. Passionflower, kava kava and ginko biloba are the other herbs that the therapists may use in treatment of depression. There are some therapists who advice the patients to undergo some modifications in their lifestyle to improve their moods. Therapists even advice patients to avoid alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, who are suffering from depression, as they can worsen the condition. A change in the way you live can make a lot of difference to your mood and state of mind.