Depression is mainly classified as a mood disorder, which involves feelings of sadness or loss of interest. It has caused disability worldwide since it can affect children, adolescents, and adults. Depression is different from mood fluctuation experienced regularly by people as part of life. Depression is not a passing problem, but it is ongoing. It can last for several months or years. Contact a San Diego psychiatrist if you get strange symptoms of depression.
It is not yet known what causes depression. With many mental disorders, various factors can be involved, including:
Biological differences. People experiencing depression have psychological changes in their brains. The importance of the changes is still not known but can help pinpoint causes.
Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that occur naturally, and they play a role in depression. Research has indicated that changes in the effect and function of neurotransmitters and the way they interact with neural circuits that maintain mood stability can play an important role in depression and treatment.
Hormones. Hormonal imbalance can be involved in triggering or causing depression. Hormone changes can be caused by pregnancy and during the months after delivery, and menopause, thyroid problems, or several other conditions.
Inherited traits. Depression is common in people whose relatives have these conditions. Research is still ongoing to find out the genes involved in causing depression.
How is depression treated?
Brain chemistry can play a role in one’s depression and be a factor in treatment. Antidepressants can be prescribed to modify an individual’s brain chemistry. These medications are not tranquilizers or sedatives.
Antidepressants produce improvements within the first one or two weeks of use, and full benefits can be seen after about three months. If you feel little or no improvement after some weeks, your psychiatrist can withdraw the dose of medication or substitute another anti-depressant. In some cases, other psychotropic medications can be helpful. It’s good to tell your doctor when the medication has side effects. Psychiatrists normally ask patients to continue taking medications for six months or more after their symptoms have improved.
Also known as talk therapy. It is used alone for treating mild depression, for severe and moderate depression, psychotherapy is used with antidepressant medications. Psychotherapy can include the individual only, but it can involve others.
For example, couples or families can help address problems in these close relationships. Group therapy brings together people with the same illness in a supportive environment and helps the participants learn how to manage similar conditions.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
It is a medical treatment commonly reserved for patients with major depression and has not responded to treatment. It involves a small electrical brain stimulation as the patient is under anesthesia. Patients receive ECT at least three times a week for a total of 12 treatments.
There are things you can do to reduce depression symptoms. Regular exercise can help create positive thinking and improve your moods. Depression is a real disease, and treatment or help is available. With better treatment, many people with depression will overcome it. If you are having depression symptoms, see your physician or psychiatrist and talk about your concerns.