Depression

Depression - sometimes referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder - is a mood disorder. It causes a frequent feeling of sadness and having no interest.

What is depression?

Depression can adversely affect thinking and behaviour, leading to a range of physical and emotional problems which can disrupt daily activities. In some cases, an individual with depression might feel that their life is not worth living.

Depression cannot simply be 'snapped out of', and in some cases will necessitate long term treatment.

The most common depression symptoms include frequent; feelings of sadness; feelings of emptiness; angry outbursts and bouts of frustration; hopelessness; lack of pleasure from normal activities; lack of energy; anxiety; slowed thinking and movements; feeling of guilt or worthlessness; reduced appetite; increased cravings for food; and difficulty when trying to concentrate.

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Causes of depression

While the exact cause of depression is not currently known, there could be a variety of factors, including; biological differences, such as physical brain changes; brain chemistry, relating to neurotransmitters and their interaction with neurocircuits in maintaining mood stability; hormones, as hormonal changes are understood to contribute to depression; and inherited traits, as people who have relatives with this condition are more likely to have it.

Aside from inherited traits, other risk factors can include; personality traits, such as being pessimistic by nature, or having low self-esteem; having a history of mental health disorders; abusing alcohol or drugs; having a serious chronic illness; and having experienced stressful or traumatic events, such as sexual physical abuse, financial difficulties, or the loss of a loved one.

Diagnosing depression

Diagnosing depression can include steps such as; a physical examination, which can involve questions being asked about your health, and checking if your depression is linked to a physical health problem; laboratory tests, such as a thyroid test or complete blood count; and a psychiatric evaluation, which can involve a discussion about your feelings, behaviour and symptoms, and can include a questionnaire.

Treatment of depression

The two main forms of treatment for depression are psychotherapy and medication.

Psychotherapy - also known as psychological therapy or talk therapy - involves talking with a mental health professional about your condition and the issues related to it. The most effective types of psychotherapy for treating depression include interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. These forms of psychotherapy can assist in treating depression by help a person; identify negative beliefs and replace them with positive ones; learn coping mechanisms and problem-solving techniques; adapt to difficult situations; develop more positive interactions with other people; identify the triggers to their depression; and set life objectives.

Among the medications which can help to treat depression are; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are often the first medications which are prescribed; serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), atypical antidepressants; tricyclic antidepressants; monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs); and selegiline.

You may need to try several medications before you find one, or a combination, which is most suited to you.