Depression can strike anyone. Often a case of the “blues” can lead to depression. There are various types of depression, elderly depression, post partum depression, situation depression, and depression caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.
The symptoms of depression include new sleeping habits, new eating habits, a sense of hopelessness, disillusionment, pessimism, worthlessness, changes in behavior, changes in mood patterns, or a sullen and withdrawn attitude. The patient needs to express 5 or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks to be considered to have major depressive disorder, but having any two symptoms for a week or more may be a sign of mild to moderate depression. Severe depression can lead to irrational thoughts and behavior, including thoughts of hurting oneself or suicide.
Depression can be brought on by a multitude of causes. A chemical imbalance in the brain is responsible for less than 25% of depression. Situational depression, depression caused by the death of a loved one, an unhealthy living environment, a loss, a change, or other variable factors. Depression can be brought on by some medications. The long term use of pain relieving narcotics such as morphine can lead to severe depression as can the long term use of other medications. Hormonal changes, particularly those after giving birth, can bring on post partum depression. Heredity may play a factor in depression, but it is not necessarily a determining factor.
There are few risk factors for depression, as anyone can experience depression if the circumstances are right. Women are more likely to be depressed than men, and depression can sometimes run in families. People who come from disruptive or abusive homes or have experienced abuse in their past are more likely to become depressed. People who have experienced a severe depression once are more likely to experience it again.
Depression is typically diagnosed through a visit with either a family doctor or a mental health professional. A series of questions can be asked and answered in order to determine the severity of depression. Most people know when they are depressed, or others can recognize it for them. Medical causes that can show some signs of depression should be ruled out prior to diagnosing an individual as depressed. The Beck’s Depression Scale Inventory test and other tests and screening questions may be used in determining whether or not someone is depressed.
Untreated depression can lead to serious consequences, such as the loss of a job, illness, the loss of family, and in some cases self inflicted death. Even treated depression can lead to self inflicted wounds and in the worst case scenario, death. Depression is serious and needs to be remedied as early as possible. Post partum depression can lead to the mother harming herself or her baby.
There is a multitude of option when treating depression. Depression can be treated with counseling, medication, in-patient therapy, interventions to allow for normal sleep patterns, and image related therapies. Though quite controversial, many clinics and inpatient facilities still perform electric shock therapy on severely depressed patients. However, more progressive psychologists and psychiatrists are attempting more progressive forms of alternative therapies such as stimulative therapies.
Because there are so many treatment options not every mental health professional treats depression in the same manner. That means that while his or her techniques may be appropriate for some, they may not be appropriate for all. Considering that most people in a depressive state are not thinking as clearly as they normally would, it may be a good idea to have a significant other involved in the treatment plan.
Depression as well as treatment for depression has their share of side effects and risks. Careful monitoring is required in order to successfully treat and “cure” depression. While depression can in fact be cured, those with a history of depression are likely to experience some form of depression again in the future. It is vital that patients understand their treatment, their risk factors, and learn to monitor their own depression in order to successfully win against depression. Regular exercise, healthy sleep and eating habits, and managing stress are all methods of managing and combating depression. Knowing when depression is no longer managageable and knowing when to ask for help is vital for all depression sufferers.