Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depression, major depressive disorder or clinical depression; it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may find it difficult doing day-to-day activities and it may make you feel like life isn’t worth it. Depression is an incapacitating illness that affects the body, mood, thoughts and the way a person eats, sleeps and feels about himself or herself. It’s not a sign of personal weakness nor can it simply be wished away. More than just a battle of the blues, depression isn’t just something that you can just “snap out” of. This affliction can cause depression symptoms that last for weeks, months or even years without treatment. Clinical depression may require long-term treatment and intervention, but don’t get discouraged. Most people who suffer clinical depression feel much better and relieved after medication, psychological counseling, or both. Other forms of treatment may also prove to be effective.
Cause of Depression
While there is no single and most definite cause of depression, you can develop clinical depression from various reasons and has different triggers for each. A person can be afflicted by one or more of these triggers and the result is always the same – depression. Some studies have also shown that you are more likely to get depressed as you get older or if you live in difficult and challenging social and economic circumstances. Stressful events can also be a warning sign to depression. The “only human” kind of excuse is not really just an excuse. We have the tendency to have a difficult time coming to terms with difficult times such as a relationship breakdown or worse, bereavement. When these do happen, you are most likely to get depressed if you start facing in on your own and stop letting people in such as friends or family. During this time, it is not uncommon to feel guilt or even blame towards yourself for your predicament. If you succumb to that, then you are going down the drain. Another trigger would be an illness. You have a higher risk of getting depression if you have a serious, life-threatening illness such as coronary heart disease or cancer. Head injuries are also possible causes of depression. A severe trauma to the head can trigger mood swings and emotional problems. A damage to the pituitary gland, which produces thyroid-producing hormone, can cause a number of symptoms such as extreme tiredness and loss of interest in sex, which in turn can lead to depression. Having personality issues, such as having low self-esteem or being overly self-critical, can also contribute to depression. Personality traits can be passed down through genes you inherit form your parents. This can also be true in the case of one family member suffering from a depression; you can most likely suffer the same. Women show significant susceptibility to getting more depressed than men. They are especially vulnerable after pregnancy with all the hormonal and physical changes as well as the added responsibility of raising another life can lead to postnatal depression. Loneliness can also lead to depression. Severe longing to be with that someone, a family member or a very close friend, can prove to be more than just fleeting. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol and drugs can lead to depression. When people try to get away from the lows of life by drinking too much and taking drugs, it can drag them into a downward spiral of depression.
Symptoms of Depression
The most common signs and symptoms of depression can include:
- Feeling of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small and easy tasks prove to be difficult
- Changes in appetite – often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness – for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent thoughts of deaths, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Depression medication may be the most advertised treatment for depression but that doesn’t mean it is the most effective. Depression isn’t just a medical imbalance in the brain. Depression medicine may help relieve some of the symptoms of moderate and severe depression but it doesn’t cure the underlying problem and it’s usually not a long-term solution. Antidepressant medications also come with side effects and safety concerns and withdrawal can be very difficult. While your family doctor can prescribe you with antidepressants, it’s always better to seek help from people who specialize in these areas. Before considering medical help, or at least before things become very serious, you should first exhaust all safe, possible means to combat depression. Lifestyle changes are essential part of depression treatment. Not only is it safe, but it’s also proven to be very effective. Exercise can be as effective as taking medications in combating depression. Not only does exercise boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals, it triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections much like antidepressants do. Eating the right stuff can also do you so much good that you should really be conscious about your nutrient intake. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. Sleep also has a strong effect on mood.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your depression symptoms will become worse. If you do get enough, then it’s the positive opposite. Social support also is another key in fighting off depression. Keeping a strong social connection with people you care about and getting help and support reduce the risk of isolation and therefore increasing your morale and sense of yourself. You should always remember that you are never alone. Do not hesitate to reach out and accept people in.
We hope to be a part of that support network. At Unger Primary Care Medical Center, you’ll enjoy more than a physician who is a specialist in chronic disease states like depression. You can rely on Dr. Unger to take a comprehensive approach to your depression treatment. No one factor influences your depression, and so we will not limit ourselves to a single solution. Our concierge medicine allows us to offer care that can be there for you however and whenever you need. We will use the full of it to help you combat your depression. Have us give you a call today.