Depression is not simply the emotional state of feeling sadness. It is a serious mental health condition that impacts all aspects of your life, from your physical health through to your ability to enjoy the things that used to bring you pleasure.
The Mental Health Foundation of the UK reports that about one in four people in the population will experience some type of mental health problem, and anxiety and depression are the two most commonly diagnosed issues. The rate of depression is higher in older individuals than in youth, with about one in five adults experiencing depression at some time in their life.
Depression has been linked to a variety of factors. Researchers believe that a combination of genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and psychological stressors are the root causes of most depression. When factors are present, they result in a change in the functioning of the brain. This change limits the ability of the brain to utilize or produce the chemicals that are required to control mood and emotion.
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF DEPRESSION
Individuals with depression typically experience a range of intensity of the symptoms. As the depression moves from minor to major depression, the symptoms become more chronic and tend to have a greater impact on your overall quality of life. Common symptoms include:
• Pervasive feelings of negativity, isolation, helplessness, emptiness, anxiety, or sadness
• Increase in anger, irritability, and restlessness
• Lack of interest in things once considered to be highly enjoyable
• Lack of intimacy and sex-drive
• Physical aches and pains
• Increased problems with sleep or insomnia
• Changes in eating patterns and digestive problems
• Suicidal thoughts or attempts
• Fatigue, mental and physical exhaustion, confusion, and difficulty in concentrating, remembering, or assimilating
TREATMENTS FOR DEPRESSION
Treatment for depression will vary, based on the symptoms and the specific type of depression you are experiencing. For all individuals with depression, early diagnosis and treatment is the best option, along with a full mental and physical evaluation to ensure that there are no other concurrent conditions that may be contributing to your depression.
For most people diagnosed with depression, treatment will include medication, in the form of an antidepressant, which helps to stabilise and manage the brain chemistry. People with depression often have changes in brain chemistry that impacts the neurotransmitters; the chemicals that are responsible for our moods and emotions.
In most patients, this is somewhat a trial and error until the right medication and dosage is established. At the same time, psychotherapy, nutritional counselling and lifestyle coaching should be carried out to allow the patient the opportunity make lifestyle choices, and to also learn coping skills in dealing with the stressors and challenges in life. Psychotherapy is particularly effective in helping patients to learn skills to cope with challenges and avoid future risk of depression.
This combination of therapy and medication is highly effective in most patients. Managing depression involves treating the entire person to allow them to again enjoy life, experience joy, and cope with current and future issues on an individual level.