What is Depression? What are Depression Treatments?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Depression (Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances, depression treatment will become necessary whn the symptoms of depression are persistent and do not go away.
- Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia): Is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major Depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered persistent depressive disorder.
- Psychotic Depression: Occurs when a person has severe Depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
- Bipolar disorder: Is different from Depression, but it is included in this list because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major Depression (called “Bipolar Depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
- Postpartum Depression: Is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with postpartum Depression experience full-blown major Depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or for their babies.
- Seasonal affective disorder: Is characterized by the onset of Depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This Depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter Depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
Examples of other types of depressive disorders newly added to the diagnostic classification of DSM-5 include disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (diagnosed in children and adolescents) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from Depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many. Several persistent symptoms in addition to low mood are required for a diagnosis of Major Depression, but people with only a few – but distressing – symptoms may benefit from treatment of their “subsyndromal” Depression. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the illness.
Depression Treatment Risk Factors
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Depression can happen at any age but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents, although it sometimes presents with more prominent irritability than low mood. Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children.
Depression, especially in midlife or older adults, can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. These conditions are often worse when depression is present. Sometimes medications taken for these physical illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to Depression. A doctor experienced in treating these complicated illnesses can help work out the best treatment strategy.
Alcohol and drug abuse are major factors of risks, moreover when people are suffering from depression instant ‘uppers’ like alcohol are over the table, but alcohol is a depressant with the stimulant costume. Alcohol and depression treatment is the first step to deal or preventing alcohol abuse.
Depression Treatment Risk factors include:
- Personal or family history of Depression
- Major life changes, trauma, or stress
- Certain physical illnesses and medications
Depression Treatment Modalities
Depression Treatment Medications
Antidepressants are medicines that treat Depression. They may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress. You may need to try several different antidepressant medicines before finding the one that improves your symptoms and has manageable side effects. A medication that has helped you or a close family member in the past will often be considered.
Antidepressants take time – usually 2 to 4 weeks – to work, and often, symptoms such as sleep, appetite, and concentration problems improve before mood lifts, so it is important to give medication a chance before concluding its effectiveness. If you begin taking antidepressants, do not stop taking them without the help of a doctor.
Sometimes people take antidepressants to feel better and then stop taking the medication on their own, and the Depression returns. When you and your doctor have decided it is time to stop the medication, usually after a course of 6 to 12 months, the doctor will help you slowly and safely decrease your dose. Stopping them abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms.
In some cases, children, teenagers, and young adults under 25 may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior when taking antidepressants, especially in the first few weeks after starting or when the dose is changed. This warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says that patients of all ages taking antidepressants should be watched closely, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.
If you are considering taking an antidepressant and you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about any increased health risks to you or your unborn or nursing child.
Depression Treatment Psychotherapies
Several types of psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy” or, in a less specific form, counseling) can help people with Depression. Examples of evidence-based approaches specific to the treatment of depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and problem-solving therapy.
Depression Treatment Brain Stimulation Therapies
If medications do not reduce the symptoms of depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be an option to explore. Based on the latest research:
- ECT can provide relief for people with severe Depression who have not been able to feel better with other treatments.
- Electroconvulsive therapy can be an effective treatment for Depression. In some severe cases where a rapid response is necessary or medications cannot be used safely, ECT can even be a first-line intervention.
- Once strictly an inpatient procedure, today ECT is often performed on an outpatient basis. The treatment consists of a series of sessions, typically three times a week, for two to four weeks.
- ECT is not painful, and you cannot feel the electrical impulses. Before ECT begins, a patient is put under brief anesthesia and given a muscle relaxant. Within one hour after the treatment session, which takes only a few minutes, the patient is awake and alert.
- ECT may cause some side effects, including confusion, disorientation, and memory loss. Usually these side effects are short-term, but sometimes memory problems can linger, especially for the months around the time of the treatment course. Advances in ECT devices and methods have made modern ECT safe and effective for the vast majority of patients. Talk to your doctor and make sure you understand the potential benefits and risks of the treatment before giving your informed consent to undergoing ECT.
Other more recently introduced types of brain stimulation therapies used to treat medicine-resistant Depression include repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). Other types of brain stimulation treatments are under study.
If you think you may need depression treatment, start by making an appointment to see your doctor or health care provider. This could be your primary care practitioner or a health provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions.
What is Major Depressive Disorder?
The exact causes of major depressive disorder are not known, but it is most likely caused by a complex interaction of genetic, psychological, environmental, and social factors. Depression can also have serious consequences on the heart. Depression has been linked to an increased risk for coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and myocardial infarction or “heart attack.” Depression also can make existing heart conditions worse.
Treatment for major depressive disorder typically includes antidepressant medications and/or psychotherapy, although some depressed individuals may not benefit from either kind of treatment. Depression can interfere with your ability to function at work or school, maintain relationships with others, sleep properly, eat healthfully, exercise regularly.
What are Major Depressive Disorder Treatments?
Fortunately, depression treatments exist to help ease symptoms—and get people back on their feet. Depression Treatment Options Depression treatment may include medication or counseling (psychotherapy), or both.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) Medications, there are several types of antidepressants available for MDD, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI)
Beyond Depression Treatment: Things You Can Do
Here are other tips from the National Institute of Mental Health that may help you or a loved one during treatment for Depression:
- Try to be active and exercise
- Set realistic goals for yourself
- Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative
- Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you
- Continue to educate yourself about Depression
- Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately
- Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced, or changing jobs until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
Reclaim Your Life with Depression Treament Help
Depression Treatment is often required for Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression. A condition that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up WA treatment center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to treat Depression with professional and safe care. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 National Institute of Mental Health – ‘Depression’ (www.nimh.nih.gov)
 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (www.fda.gov/)