Major Depression: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

maftab92 By maftab92, 1st Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Depression

In day to day life there are situations when we feel low, sad or depressed. This condition is also known as “blues”. Major depression is much more than just a passing of a “blue mood”, a "bad day" or “temporary reaction” to a specific event.

Mental Health

When we talk of major depression, it is not just a “state of mind” but an illness. The mood changes that come with major depression last for at least two weeks and usually much longer.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

1. Low mood or sadness
2. A feeling of emptiness
3. Weeping episodes
4. Lack of interest in self and others
5. Inability to enjoy pleasurable activities, which the person used to enjoy
6. Change in appetite: it might decrease or increase
7. Significant weight loss when not dieting or significant weight gain
8. Insomnia or excessive sleep
9. Restlessness or irritable mood
10. Fatigue or loss of energy
11. A sense of worthlessness or a feeling of inappropriate guilt
12. Difficulty to concentrate and indecisiveness
13. Lack of interest in life to the extent of having suicidal ideation or suicidal attempts
14. A sense of hopelessness and helplessness

If a person shows five or more of the above mentioned symptoms every day for at least two weeks, and the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with his daily activities, then only major depression will be diagnosed.

Causes of Depression

Major depression is caused by certain chemical changes in the brain. It is said that serotonin plays its role in causing depression. Scientists have concluded that people with depression have "imbalances" in the brain's neurotransmitters; low levels of serotonin and another neurotransmitter norepinephrine are believed to play a critical role. Genetic reasons also play an important part in causing depression, which means it runs in families.

Other factors like trauma, stress, financial problems, breakup of a relationship, or the death of a loved one could be triggering factors but not the actual causes of depression.

Serious physical health conditions like heart diseases, cancer, and HIV/AIDS can contribute to depression, partly because of the physical weakness and stress. In some cases, depression can be caused by medications used to treat medical conditions. This type of depression is called secondary depression.

Treatment of Major Depression

Antidepressant medicines are prescribed to treat depression. Unfortunately antidepressants may help reduce the symptoms of depression but can’t cure depression permanently. This is the reason patients with depression keep taking antidepressants for years and years with no desired results. Other than that antidepressants do have various side effects. Some of the side effects of different antidepressants are:
Dryness of the mouth, Urinary retention, Blurred vision, Constipation, Sedation (can interfere with driving or operating machinery), Sleep disruption, Weight gain, Headache, Nausea, Gastrointestinal disturbance/diarrhea, Abdominal pain, Loss of libido, Agitation and the serotonin syndrome, which is a fatal condition.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is considered to be a treatment of choice and its better at preventing relapse once treatment ends. The emotional insights and coping skills acquired during therapy can have a more lasting effect on depression. However, if your depression is so severe that you don't have the energy to pursue treatment, a brief trial of antidepressants may boost your mood to a level where you can focus on therapy.
Remember medication can reduce the symptoms of depression, but it doesn’t treat the underlying problem. Psychotherapy can help you get to the root of your depression; change negative thinking patterns, and helps learn new ways of coping.

Tags

Causes, Depression, Treatment

Meet the author

author avatar maftab92
I am a clinical psychologist from Pakistan. I am running my own clinic to help people overcome psychological problems.

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