What is depression?
Major depressive disorder involves much more than a period of sadness or having hard times in your life. Depression is a serious mental health and medical condition. It deserves medical treatment, as well as mental health care.
People with depression should see a licensed psychologist for their depression treatment. Depression remains as treatable as any other health concern. A combination of early detection, accurate diagnosis, and timely implementation of a depression treatment program helps many people feel better about themselves and the environment around them. This treatment program should include such aspects as:
• Healthy lifestyle choices.
Some individuals may only have one episode of depression. Many people, however, experience recurring events of a depressive disorder over time. If a depressive disorder remains untreated, the symptoms may last from several months to several years, with potential consequences to an individual’s quality of life.
About seven percent of the population of America has experienced a clinical depression episode at some time in their lives, with many having occurred in the last twelve months.
Friends and family can help a person with clinical depression by getting educated on the subject and being supportive.
A variety of depression symptoms may occur depending on the nature of an individual’s condition and environment. Many people with depression disorder change how they handle everyday behaviors. Their ability to function can alter for more than two weeks. Some of the common symptoms of a depressive disorder include:
• Changes in sleep patterns, such as being unable to sleep well or feeling like sleeping much more than usual.
• Not wanting to eat, or a need to eat more than usual.
• An inability to concentrate.
• Lack of energy.
• Not being interested in hobbies or other activities.
• Feeling guilty or hopeless.
• A marked increase in movement, ranging from not moving much to being agitated.
• Physical discomfort and pain.
• In extreme cases, thoughts of suicide.
No single cause for depression exists. It can be caused by physical illness, a life crisis, or can even occur for no apparent reason. Scientists who study this disorder believe that a combination of several factors causes depression, that can include:
• Trauma caused at an early age. If a significant trauma of some sort or a life crisis occurs, it causes long-term changes in the way a child’s brain grows and responds, causing depression.
• Genetic predisposition. As with many other health disorders, depression tends to run in families.
• Relationships and life circumstances. Job changes, financial difficulties, and a change in relationships that influence a person’s life all cause people to feel depressed.
• Brain changes. When a person becomes depressed, images show that the brain’s frontal lobe becomes less active. Also, depression happens when the pituitary and hypothalamus respond to certain types of hormone stimulation.
• Certain medical problems are more likely to develop this disorder. Some medications also cause depressive symptoms. People with ADHD, chronic pain, and anxiety appear to develop clinical depression more often than people without these conditions.
• Drug and alcohol use. About one-third of people who abuse substances also have a depressive disorder. During therapy, this individual needs to be treated for both depression and their addiction.
A depressive disorder is a serious diagnosis, but often responds well to therapy. Some therapies used are:
• Psychotherapy, which might include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and family counseling.
• Medications to treat depression and stabilize mood.
• Brain Stimulation. Brain stimulation becomes used when other methods are not adequately effective. Electroconvulsive therapy and rTMS work well for depression.
• Light therapy, which uses a unique lightbox to give individuals full spectrum light to regulate melatonin.
• Alternative methods of treatment for the depressive disorder include meditation, faith, nutrition, and acupuncture. These disciplines improve symptoms for many people, especially in combination with medication and psychotherapy.
If an adolescent you love struggles to feel good about themselves or seems depressed, we can help. Please contact us to find out more about depression or to ask about our services. We offer adolescent mental health services, family counseling, and psychological testing and diagnosis for our patients in the Mount Laurel, NJ, area.