World's first medical networking and resource portal

Category : All
Medical Articles
1. What Is Depression?
We all go through ups and downs in our mood occasionally feel blue or sad. Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days, however when emptiness and despair take hold and won't go away, they interfere with daily life and cause pain for both you and those who care about you, it may be depression.
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and physical well-being. It may include feelings of sadness, anxiety, emptiness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, irritability, or restlessness.
Depression is a common but serious illness.

2. What causes depression?
The exact cause of depression is not known.
Some illnesses have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward. If you have diabetes, you take insulin. If you have appendicitis, you have surgery. But depression is more complicated. Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, and is not simply cured with medication. Experts believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. In other words, your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much—if not more so—than genetics. However, certain risk factors make you more vulnerable to depression.
Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too. Depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.
Causes and risk factors for depression:
 Loneliness.
 Lack of social support.
 Stressful life experiences such as:
1. Breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
2. Failing a class.
3. Death or illness of loved ones.
4. Divorce.
5. Childhood abuse or neglect.
6. Job loss.
7. Social isolation (common in the elderly), etc.
 Family history of depression.
 Marital or relationship problems.
 Financial strain.
 Early childhood trauma or abuse.
 Alcohol or drug abuse.
 Unemployment or underemployment.
 Certain medical conditions, including underactive thyroid, cancer, or long-term pain.
 Certain medications such as steroids.
 Sleeping problems.

3. What are the different forms of depression?
Depression has various forms and each form has its own unique set of symptoms and signs.
• Major depressive disorder, or major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person's ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Some people may experience only a single episode within their lifetime, but more often a person may have multiple episodes. Left untreated, major depression typically lasts for about six months.

• Atypical depression is a common subtype of major depression. It features a specific symptom pattern, including a temporary mood lift in response to positive events. one may feel better after receiving good news or while out with friends. However, this boost in mood is fleeting. Other symptoms of atypical depression include weight gain, increased appetite, sleeping excessively, a heavy feeling in the arms and legs, and sensitivity to rejection.
• Dysthmia is a type of chronic “low-grade” depression. Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is characterized by long-term (2 years or longer) symptoms that may not be severe enough to disable a person but can prevent normal functioning or feeling well. These chronic symptoms make it very difficult to live life to the fullest or to remember better times. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.
• Minor depression is characterized by having symptoms for 2 weeks or longer that do not meet full criteria for major depression. Without treatment, people with minor depression are at high risk for developing major depressive disorder.
Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances. However, not everyone agrees on how to characterize and define these forms of depression. They include:
• Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
• Postpartum depression, which is much more serious than the "baby blues" that many women experience after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming.

• Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Seasonal affective disorder is more common in northern climates and in younger people. Like depression, seasonal affective disorder is treatable. Light therapy, a treatment that involves exposure to bright artificial light, often helps relieve symptoms.

• Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes—from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression). Episodes of depression alternate with manic episodes, which can include impulsive behavior, hyperactivity, rapid speech, and little to no sleep. Typically, the switch from one mood extreme to the other is gradual, with each manic or depressive episode lasting for at least several weeks. When depressed, a person with bipolar disorder exhibits the usual symptoms of major depression.

4. What are the signs and symptoms of depression?
People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness, but there are some common signs and symptoms.
It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression. When these symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, that's when it's time to seek help.
People who have depression usually see everything with a more negative attitude, unable to imagine that any problem or situation can be solved in a positive way. Depression can appear as anger and discouragement, rather than feelings of sadness.
Signs and symptoms include:
• Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
• Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness harshly criticizing oneself for perceived faults and mistakes.
• Anger, Irritability, restlessness: Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Tolerance level is low, temper short, and everything and everyone gets on nerves
• Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
• Fatigue, decreased energy, sluggish and physically drained out
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
• Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
• Overeating, or appetite loss leading to weight changes.
• Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
• Reckless behavior: one engages in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
• If depression is very severe, there may also be psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions.
• Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

5. Depression and suicide.
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. Thoughts of death or suicide are a serious symptom of depression, so take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It's not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide: it's a cry for help.
Warning signs of suicide include:
• Talking about killing or harming one’s self
• Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
• An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
• Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
• Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
• Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
• Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out.”
• A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy.
If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, express your concern and seek professional help immediately. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.
If You Are Feeling Suicidal...
When you’re feeling extremely depressed or suicidal, problems don’t seem temporary—they seem overwhelming and permanent. But with time, you will feel better, especially if you reach out for help. If you are feeling suicidal, know that there are many people who want to support you during this difficult time, so please reach out for help!
Always remember suicide is permanent answer for a temporary problem.
Call your doctor right away if:
• You hear voices that are not there.
• You have frequent crying spells with little or no reason.
• Your depression is disrupting work, school, or family life.
• You think that your current medications are not working or are
Causing side effects.
Never change or stop any medications without consulting your doctor.
• If you have thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or others.

6. What illnesses often co-exist with depression?
Other illnesses may come on before depression, cause it, or be a consequence of it. But depression and other illnesses interact differently in different people. In any case, co-occurring illnesses need to be diagnosed and treated.
Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder, often accompany depression. PTSD can occur after a person experiences a terrifying event or ordeal, such as a violent assault, a natural disaster, an accident, terrorism or military combat. People experiencing PTSD are especially prone to having co-existing depression.
Alcohol and other substance abuse or dependence may also co-exist with depression.
Depression also may occur with other serious medical illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease. People who have depression along with another medical illness tend to have more severe symptoms of both depression and the medical illness, more difficulty adapting to their medical condition, and more medical costs than those who do not have co-existing depression. Treating the depression can also help improve the outcome of treating the co-occurring illness.

7. How is depression diagnosed?
A doctor generally performs a medical examination and selected investigations to rule out other causes of symptoms. These include blood tests measuring TSH and thyroxin to exclude hypothyroidism; basic electrolytes and serum calcium to rule out a metabolic disturbance; and a full blood count including ESR to rule out a systemic infection or chronic disease. Adverse affective reactions to medications or alcohol misuse are often ruled out, as well. Testosterone levels may be evaluated to diagnose hypogonadism, a cause of depression in men.
Subjective cognitive complaints appear in depressed people, but they can also be indicative of the onset of a dementing disorder, such as Alzheimer's disease. Cognitive testing and brain imaging can help distinguish depression from dementia. A CT scan can exclude brain pathology in those with psychotic, rapid-onset or otherwise unusual symptoms. Investigations are not generally repeated for a subsequent episode unless there is a medical indication.
The diagnosis is confirmed with help of psychological evaluation Standardized questionnaires can be helpful such as the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and the Beck Depression Inventory.

8. How can I help myself and/or a loved one who is depressed?
If you know someone who is depressed, it affects you too. The most important thing you can do is help your friend or relative get a diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make an appointment and go with him or her to see the doctor. Encourage your loved one to stay in treatment, or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs after 6 to 8 weeks.
To help your friend or relative
• Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
• Talk to him or her, and listen carefully.
• Never dismiss feelings, but point out realities and offer hope.
• Never ignore comments about suicide, and report them to your loved one's therapist or doctor.
• Invite your loved one out for walks, outings and other activities. Keep trying if he or she declines, but don't push him or her to take on too much too soon.
• Provide assistance in getting to the doctor's appointments.
• Remind your loved one that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.
To Help Yourself
• Do not wait too long to get evaluated or treated. There is research showing the longer one waits, the greater the impairment can be down the road. Try to see a professional as soon as possible.
• Try to be active and exercise. Go to a movie, a ballgame, or another event or activity that you once enjoyed.
• Set realistic goals for yourself.
• Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities and do what you can as you can.
• Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
• Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Do not expect to suddenly "snap out of" your depression. Often during treatment for depression, sleep and appetite will begin to improve before your depressed mood lifts.
• Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced or changing jobs, until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
• Remember that positive thinking will replace negative thoughts as your depression responds to treatment.
• Continue to educate yourself about depression.
Always remember everything does not get better overnight, but you will be able to enjoy life.

9. Prognosis of Depression.
With proper medication all types of depression can be treated. For people who have repeated episodes of depression, quick and ongoing treatment along with psychotherapy may be needed to prevent more severe, long-term depression. Sometimes people will need to stay on medications for long periods of time.

10. Complications of depression.
People who are depressed are more likely to use alcohol or illegal substances.
Complications of depression also include:
• Increased risk of physical health problems
• Suicide

11. Prevention of Depression.
Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. These substances can make depression worse and might lead to thoughts of suicide.
Take your medication exactly as your doctor instructed. Ask your doctor about the possible side effects and what you should do if you have any. Learn to recognize the early signs that your depression is getting worse.
The following tips might help you feel better:
• Get more exercise
• Maintain good sleep habits
• Seek out activities that bring you pleasure
• Volunteer or get involved in group activities
• Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling
• Try to be around people who are caring and positive

12. Homeopathic Treatment for Depression.

Homeopathy offers an excellent treatment for all stages of Depression, especially in the early stages. Homeopathy can take care of various symptoms of depression.
Homeopathy can positively influence personality traits that are working at the base of disease.

Homeopathy goes into the depths of depression, and the treatment is thus based on the underlying causes of it. The important aspect is that depression is a disease in which genetic make-up is topped with environmental stress result in disease.

Homeopathic medicines are very deep acting and having potential to counter genetic tendencies. Homeopathy medicines address the root cause of the disease and hence prevent the relapse and recurrence of the condition. Last but not the least; homeopathy medicines are absolutely free from any side-effects as opposed to most of conventional medicines.
The results achieved using from homeopathy can be augmented with supportive measures like counseling and psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy: Several types of psychotherapy—or "talk therapy"—can help people with depression.
Two main types of psychotherapies—cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT)—are effective in treating depression.
Support Groups :
You can often ease the stress of illness by joining a support group whose members share common experiences and problems.

Category (Psychology, Stress & Mental Health)  |   Views (2383)  |  User Rating
Rate It

Browse Archive