Dealing with Depression
People often speak of feeling “depressed.” Indeed, it is normal to feel occasional sadness due to life’s disappointments. Clinical depression, on the other hand, is very different from those occasions when we experience sadness or despair. Clinical depression is a serious illness caused by a brain disorder and its effects on the individual’s ability to function in everyday situations is profound. The condition could affect moods, thoughts, behaviors, and physical well-being.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression strikes about 17 million American adults every year. This is even more than the number of cases related to cancer, AIDS, or coronary heart disease. What makes it even worse is that an estimated 15 percent of people suffering from depression end in suicide.
Dealing with depression may seem like a daunting task. Some people don’t even understand the real nature of the illness.
“A lot of people still believe that depression is a character flaw or caused by bad parenting,” says Mary Rappaport, a spokeswoman for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
It should be noted that dealing with depression does not merely involve willpower. It requires proper medical attention.
The good news is that depression is treatable. In fact, one of the first steps of dealing with depression consists of using either of the two major treatment options available – medication or therapy.
But first, an accurate diagnosis must be obtained before one can go ahead with dealing with depression. When diagnosing and dealing with depression, it is important to note that that there are three main categories of the condition. These are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar depression (otherwise known as manic depression).
The symptoms for each category of depression can vary, depending on the individual. And there are several factors that serve to increase the risk of depression. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the following are the common symptoms of depression as listed in the DSM-IV:
* Depressed mood
* Loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities
* Changes in appetite or weight
* Disturbed sleeping patterns
* Slowed or restless movements
* Fatigue, loss of energy
* Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
* Trouble in thinking, concentrating or making decisions
* Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Antidepressant drugs are often prescribed as a step in dealing with depression. These drugs, such as tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, work by altering certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin. This results in improved symptoms of depression and can help in dealing with depression.
Alternatively, persons suffering from severe depressive episodes may not be responsive to medications alone. In order to provide long term relief, psychotherapy is needed.