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Depression

Depressive disorders can appear in various forms. Every type of depression has variations in the number,severity,and persistence of symptoms. Some of the commonly seen types of depression are given below.

  • Major Depression Dysthymia
  • Bipolar Depression or Manic Depression
  • Post Partum Depression
  • Reactive Depression
  • Melancholic Depression
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

The Common Symptoms

  • Persistently sad, anxious, or an "empty" mood
  • Feelings of pessimism and hopelessness
  • Feelings of helplessness,guilt or worthlessness
  • Lack of sleep, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Reduced appetite and/or loss of weight, or even overeating and weight gain
  • Tiredness, low energy, being "slowed down" Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate, remember, or make decisions
  • Absence of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Persistent physical symptoms that normally do not respond to treatment, like headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.

The Causes

Certain kinds of depression may run in families, which mean that depression may be inherited, especially bipolar disorders. People with the illness have a different kind of genetic makeup than others. But it is not necessary that everybody with the genetic makeup causing vulnerability to bipolar disorder has the illness.Major depression also may occur generation after generation in some families. It may even occur in people with no family history of depression. An episode of depression is often triggered by an external event like a serious loss, chronic illness, difficult relationship, financial problem, or unwelcome changes in life patterns. Usually, a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors is involved in the onset of depressive disorders.

It has been known that women are twice as likely to become depressed as men, though the reason for this not known. Psychological factors like persistent deprivation in infancy, physical or sexual abuse, clusters of certain personality traits, and inadequate ways of coping may increase the frequency and even severity of depressive disorders. Maternal stress while pregnant can increase chances of the child being prone to depression as an adult, especially if there is a genetic vulnerability. The mother`s circulating stress hormones could influence the development of the baby`s brain during pregnancy.

Treatment Available

  • Antidepressant medications
  • Electro Convulsive Therapy
  • Psychotherapies and counseling

The General Approach In Treatment

Generally, severe depressive illnesses, mainly those which recur, require antidepressant medications or ECT at times, along with psychotherapy for the best outcome. Patience is important, as treatment for depression takes time. The doctor may need to try a variety ofantidepressants before finding the medication or combination of medications that is most effective for the patient. At times, the dosage needs to be increased to be effective. In choosing antidepressants, the doctor will take into account the patient`s age, his/her medical conditions and medication side effects.

Patients many a time get tempted to stop their medication too soon. It is quite important to keep taking medication until the doctor says to stop, even if the patient starts feeling better beforehand. Antidepressant drugs are not habit-forming ones. The doctor will be checking the dosage and its effectiveness periodically. Medications of any kind should never be mixed without consulting the doctor. Any other doctor who prescribes a drug should be informed that the patient is on antidepressants. The doctor should always be consulted on any questions about a drug or problem that the patient thinks is drug-related.

Discontinuing Antidepressants

Antidepressants should not be abruptly discontinued but gradually tapered. Abrupt stoppage of antidepressants may cause discontinuation syndrome.

Self-Help

Depressive disorders create feelings of being exhausted, helpless, worthless and hopeless. These negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. Theses negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. Theses negative views are part of the depression and typically do not accurately reflect the actual situation. Remember that negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect.

The following are helpful guidelines for depressed individuals :

  • Avoid setting unrealistic goals or take on a great deal of responsibility.
  • Break up big tasks into small ones, set priorities, and do what you can when you can.
  • Expecting too much from you too soon, will only increase feelings of failure.
  • Try to be in the company of other people, which is usually better than being alone.
  • Take part in activites that make you feel better.
  • Try exercising lightly,going to a movie, or participating in social activites.
  • Don`t rush or overdo things. Don`t get upset if your mood is not greatly improved right away. Feeling better takes time.
  • Avoid making major life decisions like changing jobs or getting married or divorced without consulting others who know you well. Such people often can have a more objective view of your situation. In any case, it is better to postpone important decisions until your depression has lifted.
  • Expecting to "snap out" of your depression,may be unrealistic. It rarely happens. Help yourself as much as you can, and avoid blaming yourself for not being up to par.
  • Remember not to accept your negative thinking. It is part of the depression and will disappear as your depression responds to treatment.

Helping A Person With Depression

The most important thing to do for a depressed person is to help him or her get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. This involves encouraging the individual to stay with treatment until symptoms begin to go away or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs. It may require accompanying the depressed person to the doctor. It may also mean monitoring if the depressed person is taking medication. Always report a worsening depression to the doctor. Another msot important way to help is to offer emotional support, which involves understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement. Engage the depressed person in conversation and listen carefully. Do not run down feelings expressed, but poing out realities and offer hope. Never ignore remarks on suicide. Always report them to the doctor.

Take the depressed person for walks, outings, to movies and other activites. Gently insist if invitaiton is refused. But, do not push the depressed person to undertake too much too soon. The depressed person needs company and diversion, but too many demands can increase feelings of failure. Never accuse the depressed person of faking illness or of laziness. Eventually, with treatment, most depressed people do get better. Keep that in mind. Keep reassuring the depressed person that, with time and help, he or she will feel better.

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