Depression: Causes, Features and Treatment

Depression is a feeling that we get when something bad happens and we are unable to deal with it. Typically, people are prone to depression when something bad or what they perceive as bad occurs in their lives, such as the death of a loved one, financial trouble, work pressure, marital discord or the breaking up of a relationship. This type of depression tends to decrease over a period of time and eventually fades away; there are times though, when depression gets out of hand and lasts for months, then it is known as a depression disorder.

Statistics show that more than 15% of the population is affected by clinical depression at some point. Most people prone to depression do not seek professional treatment, attributing their feelings to a bad mood that will pass. If left untreated, depression can get worse, and may even lead to suicide in some people.

Causes of Depression

There are various theories that suggest a multiple number of reasons, both internal and external factors which can cause depression.

1) Genetic is thought to be one of them. With this theory the family and their behavior has a predisposition towards depression.

2) It has also been noted that changes in the brain structure or even brain functions may be one of the causes of depression.

3) Low self-esteem and pessimism are thought to be the other causes of depression. With these mood traits a person suffering from low self-esteem will regard themselves with feelings of pessimism, worthlessness, a desire to end their life and perhaps even attempts at suicide. In this case the person who suffers from low self-esteem and depression will only see the negative aspects of life. These low self-esteem and pessimistic feelings maybe some of the causes of depression, as they invoke the response towards depression.

4) Being overwhelmed by stress can easily lead a person into a state of depression. As more stress enters our lives, depression begins to set in.

Low self-esteem, pessimism and stress are considered to be psychological causes of depression.

5) Other causes of depression can include any physical changes that occur to our bodies. Severe medical conditions like Parkinson disease, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes can make the individual believe that there is nothing worthwhile living for. This emotional state in many cases causes the person to drop into a depression phase. And depression, in turn delays the rate of recovery.

Clinical Features

Depression affects people across all age ranges, genders, ethnicities, cultures and religions.

The common symptoms of clinical depression can be broken up into three categories. Any combination of these symptoms that last for more than a two week period of time signifies that someone is suffering with depression.

Physical Symptoms:

  1. Sleep problems either insomnia or oversleeping and not having normal sleep patterns.
  2. Lack of energy and chronic fatigue
  3. Appetite changes leading to weight gain or loss.
  4. Headaches, digestive problems, back pain and other physical symptoms for which there is no medical illness.

Behavioral Symptoms:

  1. Loosing interest in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyable.
  2. Withdrawing from social functions and obligations.
  3. Memory loss, inability to concentrate and make good decisions.
  4. Lack of concern over personal appearance, responsibilities and work.

Emotional Symptoms:

  1. Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and guilt.
  2. Continual feelings of sadness or not feeling whole.
  3. Constant crying and weeping.
  4. Irritable feelings including anxiousness and agitation.
  5. Feeling like committing suicide.

If any combination of these symptoms last for more than two weeks then a diagnosis of clinical depression will be made in most cases.

Treatment

Before any sort of cure can be administered the depression sufferer must admit that they have depression. The time to cure clinical depression is when the symptoms are noticed early and acted upon without delay. It is therefore, critical for everyone to be aware of the symptoms, and to take action as soon as possible, to avoid needless suffering on the part of the depressed.

Some of these treatments are long term and can eventually cure the depression sufferer of their aliment. Other medications act only as a way of controlling the bouts of depression. Many of these treatments work best in conjunction with each other. At the present the medication that is prescribed for depression is that of antidepressants.

1) Antidepressants are classified as TCA (Tricyclic Antidepressant Drugs), SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, RIMA (Reversible Inhibitors of Monoamine Oxidase), MAOI (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors) and SNRI (Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors). All of these cures for depression work by altering the chemical patterns within the brain.

2) Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another proven form of cure for depression. With this therapy you relearn your reaction to situations that can lead you into depression. Also you learn how to cope with the day to day situations that you will find yourself in. This way the problems can’t overwhelm you and make you feel like a failure for not being able to solve them quickly.

Article by: Dr. Mandeep Kunwar

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