Depression symptoms, causes and treatment

Depression is a major depressive disorder that is a prevalent and severe health disease that negatively impacts how a person feels, acts, and thinks. Good thing, it can still be treated. Depression results in feelings of sadness, as well as a loss of interest in tasks and hobbies once enjoyed.

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 Aside from this, it can also result in many different physical and emotional issues and can lower one’s capacity to function at home, school, or office. 

Causes of Depression

Several reasons can trigger depression, including:

  • Certain medications – there are some medications like isotretinoin (those that are utilized to treat acne), corticosteroids, and drug interferon-alpha, which can increase one’s risk of experiencing depression.
  • Abuse – previous emotional, sexual function, and physical abuse can heighten one’s vulnerability to developing clinical depression in the future and can cause impotence.
  • Loss or death – grief or sadness from a loved one’s death or loss might cause depression.
  • Conflict – depression among those with biological vulnerability to acquire depression might branch out from fights with friends or family members to personal conflicts.
  • Major life events – not only unfortunate circumstances, but also enjoyable activities, like graduating, starting a new work, or getting married can cause depression. The same way as losing a job, moving, retiring, getting a divorced, or not having enough income. But, the syndrome that is associated with clinical depression isn’t a natural response to frustrating life events. 
  • Genetics – if one has a family history of depression, it might also increase his/her risk. It is presented that depression is a complex trait, which means that there are countless of different genes that all contribute to the risk of developing such illness. The genetic makeup of depression, just like most psychiatric complications, is not as straightforward or straightforward compared to purely genetic disease, like cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s chorea.
  • Substance abuse – almost 30% of individuals that are suffering from substance abuse issues have clinical or major depression. Though alcohol and drugs might temporarily make you feel high and euphoric, they can dramatically heighten your risk of depression.
  • Severe diseases – there are times that depression exists accompanied by severe illness or might be activated by a different health condition.
  • Other personal issues – issues like social isolation caused by mental disorders or being an outcast in social groups or family can cause clinical depression.

Diagnosis and Treatment

As of the present, there isn’t a dedicated test to diagnose depression. However, your doctor can perform diagnosis based on the symptoms that you experience, together with the information gathered on your psychological evaluation.

Typically, they will ask various questions with regards to your:

  • sleep pattern
  • moods
  • thoughts
  • appetite
  • activity level

Since depression might be associated with other medical complications, your doctor might also perform a physical examination and blood tests. Besides, depression can be categorized into different types varying on the severity of the symptoms. The diagnosis depends on the kind of depression. There are two types of depression: persistent depressive disorder and major depressive disorder.

A major depressive disorder is considered a more severe type of depression. It is described by continuous feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and worthlessness that doesn’t seem to go away without any medical attention. For patients to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, they must experience at least five or more of these symptoms for two weeks:

  • dramatic weight gain or loss
  • feeling depressed more often
  • slowed movement or thinking
  • loss of interest in many daily tasks
  • feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • low energy or fatigue most of the day
  • oversleeping or inability to sleep
  • persistent thoughts about suicide or death
  • indecisiveness or loss of concentration

On the other hand, persistent depressive disorder or PDD is known as dysthymia in the past. It is a milder yet chronic type of depression. For doctors to make a diagnosis in this type, the patient must experience the symptoms for a minimum of 2 years. 

Additionally, PDD can significantly impact one’s life compared to major depressive disorder since it lasts longer. Usually, people who develop PDD display the following:

  • low self-esteem
  • feel hopeless
  • loss of interest in everyday activities
  • loss of productivity

Depression can be cured effectively. However, you must follow the treatment plan prescribed by your healthcare provider. Living with depression is not easy. However, the treatment can increase your quality of life. Consult your doctor or physician about potential treatment options that suit your condition. You might successfully alleviate the symptoms by using one kind of treatment, or you might discover that multiple treatments work great. 

Combining different lifestyle therapies and treatments are quite popular; these include:

  • Medications – your doctor might prescribe any of the following: antipsychotic drugs, anti-anxiety drug, or anti-depressants. Every kind of medicine that is utilized to cure depression offers benefits and possible risks.
  • Light therapy – taking specific doses of white light can stabilize your mood and enhance the symptoms that are associated with depression. Commonly, light therapy is utilized in progressive seasonal disorder, which is presently referred to as major depressive disorder that comes with a seasonal pattern.
  • Psychotherapy – talking to a therapist will enable you to learn different coping mechanisms to handle negative feelings successfully. You might also learn a thing or two from a group or family therapy session.
  • Exercise – make it your goal to perform at least 30 minutes of exercise for 3-5 days every week. Doing physical activity can improve the endorphin production of your body, which are the estrogen hormones responsible for mood improvement. 
  • Look out for yourself – by taking care of your self. You’ll also be able to alleviate the symptoms of depression. These include eating a healthful diet, getting enough rest, doing enjoyable activities, and staying away from negative people.
  • Learn how to set boundaries and say no – sometimes, when you feel too overwhelmed, the symptoms of your depression and anxiety even get worse. Learn how to set boundaries in the aspect of your personal and professional life since it could help you feel good and better.
  • Stay away from drugs and alcohol – misusing or drinking drugs might make you temporarily better; however, in the long run, they can worsen your depression and anxiety. 

There are times that depression doesn’t respond to medications. When this happens, your doctor will prescribe other forms of treatment, including repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation or rTMS and electroconvulsive therapy or ECT. 

What are the normal conditions?

Depression can’t be wholly considered preventable. The causes that might trigger it are also difficult to point out, which means preventing this condition is even more complicated. However, if you already experienced one depressive episode, it pays to be prepared to keep future events at bay. One way to prepare and prevent the next depressive episode is to determine which treatment for fluid retention in the body and lifestyle changes have positive effects on your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Strategies that might be helpful include the following:

  • getting enough sleep
  • daily exercise
  • creating strong relationships with people around you
  • staying away from stress
  • maintaining treatments and medications

Risks of having depression

If depression, if left untreated, can result in severe and sometimes life-long consequences that can broadly impact all aspects of your life. Good thing, depression is entirely treatable. If you seek help right away and follow the treatment plan prescribed to you, you can stop these risks:

  • Suicide – thoughts about death and suicide can increase if depression if left untreated.
  • Self-harm – this can cause severe or hazardous injuries and even accidental deaths if not resolved earlier.
  • Addiction – people usually self-medicate with addictive substances to cope up with severe depression.
  • Reckless behavior – depressed people tend to be angry and hopeless, which can potentially place themselves in harmful situations.
  • Health concerns – depression is an unhealthy cycle that could lead to severe health complications due to a lack of self-care.

When to seek medical attention

If the symptoms of depression that you are experiencing are creating troubles with your family, work, school, or relationships – and there isn’t any precise solution to fix it – you must talk to a professional. Consulting with an expert, such as a mental health doctor or counselor, can help stop problems from getting bigger, most especially if the symptoms remain for an extended period. Furthermore, it is essential to understand that feeling depressed doesn’t necessarily mean that you already develop depression. Generally, depression is not only experiencing mood changes and fatigue, but it also involves significant changes in motivation, sleep, appetite, energy, and concentration. If you notice that you are experiencing these physical indications and find yourself often feeling depressed for days or even weeks, don’t hesitate to see your doctor and ask for help.

Also, if you are having suicidal thoughts and head aches more frequently that you are planning to commit suicide, after a few hours or days that you got your treatment, skip the part where you need to make an appointment, and go to your doctor or local emergency room right away. Once you are at the hospital, tell the medical experts that you are having frequent suicidal thoughts. During these severe cases, you can’t waste any time scheduling appointments.

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