DEPRESSION: Definition, Types, Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & Side Effects
DEPRESSION: Definition, Types, Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & Side Effects: Depression is one disorder which is fairly common in the world of today. It is mostly common in adults. Depression as a mood disorder tends to interfere with daily lives and productivity. It also influences relationships and some chronic health conditions.
Depression is a mood disorder which involves a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It is different from the mood fluctuations that people regularly experience as a part of life. It tends to how one feels, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. One may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes one may have feelings about life being worthless.
Depression is not just a bout of the blues. It isn’t a weakness so one can’t just snap out of it or talk himself out of it. Depression may require long-term treatment and most people with depression feel better with medication, psychotherapy or both.
Depression can be broken into categories depending on the severity of symptoms. Some people experience mild and temporary episodes, while others experience severe and ongoing depressive episodes. There are two main types: major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.
MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
Major depressive disorder is the more severe form of depression. It’s characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that don’t go away on their own. In order to be diagnosed with clinical depression, you must experience 5 or more of the following symptoms over a 2-week period:
- feeling depressed most of the day
- loss of interest in most regular activities
- significant weight loss or gain
- sleeping a lot or not being able to sleep
- slowed thinking or movement
- fatigue or low energy most days
- feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- loss of concentration or indecisiveness
- recurring thoughts of death or suicide
There are different sub types of major depressive disorder, which the American Psychiatric Association refers to as “specifiers.” These include:
- atypical features
- anxious distress
- mixed features
- pericardium onset, during pregnancy or right after giving birth
- seasonal patterns
- melancholic features
- psychotic features
PERSISTENT DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) used to be called dysthymia. It’s a milder, but chronic, form of depression. In order for the diagnosis to be made, symptoms must last for at least 2 years. PDD can affect your life more than major depression because it lasts for a longer period.
It’s common for people with PDD to:
- lose interest in normal daily activities
- feel hopeless
- lack productivity
- have low self-esteem.
People suffering from depression tend to experience multiple symptoms. These symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. They include:
- Feelings of sadness, fearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
The true causes of depression are not really known as they vary from individual to individual. However, they have been narrowed down to the following:
- Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain, but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
- Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
- Hormones. Changes in the body’s balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result with pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum) and from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.
- Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.
In addition to these causes, other risk factors for depression include:
- low self-esteem or being self-critical
- personal history of mental illness
- certain medications
- stressful events, such as loss of a loved one, economic problems, or a divorce
Depression is treatable, and managing symptoms usually involves three components:
- Support: This can range from discussing practical solutions and possible causes to educating family members.
- Psychotherapy: Also known as talking therapy, some options include one-to-one counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
- Drug treatment: A doctor may prescribe antidepressants.
Antidepressants can help treat moderate-to-severe depression.
- Several classes of antidepressants are available:
- selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- tricyclic antidepressants
- atypical antidepressants
- selective serotonin and nor-epinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
Each class acts on a different neurotransmitter or combination of neurotransmitters. A person should only take these medications as their doctor prescribes. Some drugs can take a while to have an impact. By stopping the drug, a person may not experience the benefits that it could offer. Some people stop taking medication after symptoms improve, but this can lead to a relapse.
MEDICATION SIDE EFFECTS
SSRIs and SNRIs can have side effects. A person may experience:
- low blood sugar
- weight loss
- a rash
- sexual dysfunction