Depression is a mental disorder that is a feeling of sadness that can interfere with daily life for a person and the family and friends of the person. The some of the major signs or symptoms of depression are thoughts of suicide, loss of interest, and appetite changes. There are many things to know about this disorder such as what the it is, what causes it, who is afflicted by it, how it is diagnosed, and what treatment is available.
According to a research, “depression is a complex biological illness that affects the delicate balance of brain chemicals, the signaling system used for communication between neurons, the flow of blood through the brain, the hormones that regular dozen of body processes, and the mechanisms involved in sleep and wakefulness.” (Kim 16). There are many different types of depression. They include major depression, persistent depressive disorder, psychotic depression, postpartum depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, substance induced mood disorder, anxious distress, mixed features, melancholic features, atypical features, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Major depression is an interference “with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat and enjoy once pleasurable activities” (“Types of Depression”). Persistent depressive disorder lasts over a period of two years with severe symptoms that come and go on occasion. Psychotic depression is a form of psychosis that include delusions or hallucinations. Postpartum depression is seen in women who have just given birth because “hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming” (“Types of Depression”). Dysthymia is a persistent state of depression for two years. Bipolar disorder comes in four types; Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and Cyclothymic Disorder. Each of these get more severe after the other. Anxious distress is the “depression with unusual restlessness or worry about possible events or loss of control” (“Depression (major depression)”). Mixed features are the random bursts of depression and deranged state of mind that would include elevated self-esteem or talking too much and increased energy. Melancholic features are “severe depression with lack of response to something that used to bring pleasure and associated with early morning awakening, worsened mood in the morning, major changes in appetite, and feelings of guilt, agitation or sluggishness” (“Depression (major depression)”). The type of depression that is the ability to be cheered by happy events, increased appetite, excessive need for sleep, sensitivity to rejection, and a heavy feeling in arms or legs is atypical features.Substance induced mood disorder is seen in those who have went through substance abuse or dependence. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) starts “in the winter months, usually stemming from low natural sunlight and often lifting in the summer months” (“Types of Depression”). These can be caused by four basic things.
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The causes of depression are a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Genetically it could be hereditary meaning it was inherited from family members. The biological cause would be either the imbalance of chemicals in the brain, “subtle abnormalities in the production of hormones by the hypothalamus and the pituitary and adrenal glands,” or “characteristic changes in their sleep patterns, particularity a tendency to enter rapid eye movement (REM) or dream sleep much earlier in a night’s sleep than usual” (Kim 17). Environmental causes would be the death of a loved one, a move, a divorce, financial difficulties or job loss, social isolation, periods of relationship conflict, whether marriage or family-related, demanding work or a stressful workplace, and health issues. Psychological causes are cognitive and behavioral factors along with stress and life traumas. The cognitive and behavioral factors comes from the negative perspective about self, the environment, and the future. Stress and life traumas are severe or unanticipated stress, major losses, family or marriage problems, financial problems, moving, life transition, and chronic illness. These causes are seen throughout the world in many people.
There are many people in the world who are afflicted by this disorder. It is seen in teenagers and adults. In Conquering the Beast Within, Cait Irwin describes her journey with overcoming depression: “The reason that I needed to check into the hospital was that I got to a point where I couldn’t trust myself. I didn’t know if I wanted to live or die. I went to the hospital to talk about my problems and to find the right medicine to help me. But most importantly to keep me safe” (74). Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, is about the main character’s struggle with depression caused by the stress of school and other factors that teenagers typically worry about. Thirty-two years old is the average age for depression to become onset which is before the time people typically go through their midlife crisis. Out of U.S adults who experience major depressive disorder, there are 6.7% each year. Conquering the Beast Within showed that it is hard to know if what we are feeling is depression until it becomes severe:
The reason I didn’t notice it before was because in the beginning the illness starts out small. I thought nothing about , perhaps a bad day, and I accepted it because I thought it was part of my life. But it grew rapidly. The sadness became deep and went on unstoppable for weeks. It was growing inside of me and got big before I realized something was seriously wrong.” (Irwin 10)
The difference between women and men with the disorder is that “[w]omen are 70 % more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime” (“Depression”). The millions of people who have depression were diagnosed from their doctor.
The way depression is diagnosed is through the symptoms. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms. These would include feeling sad, hopeless, guilty, worthless, irritable, restless, loss of interest, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, overeating, appetite loss, or thoughts of suicide. There are tests “help rule out other problems that could be causing your symptoms, pinpoint a diagnosis and check for any related complications” (“Depression (major depression)”). A physical exam is done by a doctor along with health questions because the depression could be tied to a physical health problem. Lab tests are done after blood test is taken to get a complete blood count or check if the thyroid is functioning properly. A doctor or mental health provider will ask about symptoms, thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns or there will be a questionnaire to help answer these questions instead. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) could be provided by a mental health professional because it “is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment” (“Depression (major depression)”). After being diagnosed, there are treatments to help.
This disorder has three basic treatments. There is the medication approach which would be the intake of antidepressants. Psychotherapy is another word for “talk therapy.” The two types, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT), has helped those who have had depression in the past. This is most helpful for mild depression. If both medication and psychotherapy do not work, then there is electroconvulsive therapy and other brain stimulation therapies which is commonly branded as “shock therapy.” However, doing so may cause some short term side effects, including confusion, disorientation, and memory loss. The many self help groups on the internet were also helpful to cope with the disease. A person could also admit themselves to a hospital for the safety of their life and stay until their required treatment has worked enough to help cope.
The mental disorder is a serious condition and should not be made fun of or taken lightly. It is best to get help immediately as symptoms such as thoughts of suicide, loss of interest, and appetite changes start to been clearly seen. To help those who have depression it is helpful to know as much about this disorder as possible such as what the it is, what causes it, who is afflicted by it, how it is diagnosed, and what treatment is available.
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