Depression is one of the most common psychological problems. Each year over 17 million Americans experience a period of clinical depression. Thus, depression affects nearly everyone through personal experiences or through depression in a family member or friend.
Depression can interfere with normal functioning, and frequently causes problems with work, social life and family life. It causes pain and suffering not only to those who have a disorder, but also to those who care about them. Serious depression has been known to destroy family life as well as the life of the depressed person.
According to Psychology Information Online, depression is a psychological condition that changes how a person thinks and feels, and it also affects their social behavior and sense of physical well being. Depression has been called a “whole body” illness because of the many things the illness affects.
Depression affects everyone. According to Psychology Information Online, women are more at risk for depression. This is due to factors that are directly related to women such as reproductive, hormonal, genetic or other biological factors; abuse and oppression; interpersonal factors; and certain psychological and personality characteristics. In general, it has been found that people who have low self-esteem, who consistently view themselves and the world with pessimism, or who are readily overwhelmed by stress are more prone to depression. Psychologists often describe social learning factors as being significant in the development of depression, as well as other psychological problems. A serious loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crisis, financial setback, or any unwelcome life change can trigger a depressive episode. Very often, a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors are involved in the development of depressive disorders, as well as other psychological problems (Psychology Information Online).
It has been suggested that depression comes from a chemical imbalance in the brain, but now it seems the opposite is true. According to Psychology Information Online, the chemical imbalance is a result of the depression. It has been found that the chemical imbalances that occur during depression usually disappear when the patient completes psychotherapy for depression, without taking any medications to correct the imbalance.
1. Depressed mood for most of the day
2. Disturbed appetite or change in weight
3. Disturbed sleep
4. Psychomotor retardation or agitation
5. Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities; inability to enjoy usual hobbies or activities
6. Fatigue or loss of energy
7. Feelings of worthlessness; excessive and/or inappropriate guilt
8. Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
According to drkoop.com a major depressive episode is present if five or more of the preceding nine symptoms are present during the same two-week period. At least one of the five symptoms must be either a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.
There are many different ways to treat depression, but the first step is to correctly diagnosis it. According to Psychology Information Online most people never seek proper treatment, or seek treatment but they are misdiagnosed with physical illness. With proper treatment, nearly 80% of those with depression can make significant improvement in their mood and life adjustment.
Psychotherapy and medication are the two primary treatment approaches. Antidepressant medications can make psychotherapy more effective, for some people. Someone who is too depressed to talk, for instance, will not benefit from psychotherapy or counseling; but often, the right medication will improve symptoms so that the person can respond better (Psychology Information Online).
There are many different varieties of antidepressants. They include monoamine oxidase inhibitors or elective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Each of these categories include many different specific types that have different effects on each person.
Psychological treatment of depression (psychotherapy) can assist the depressed individual in several ways according to Psychology Information Online. First, supportive counseling helps ease the pain of depression, and addresses the feelings of hopelessness that accompany depression. Second, cognitive therapy changes the pessimistic ideas, unrealistic expectations, and overly critical self-evaluations that create depression and sustain it. Cognitive therapy helps the depressed person recognize which life problems are critical, and which are minor. It also helps him/her to develop positive life goals, and a more positive self-assessment. Third, problem-solving therapy changes the areas of the person’s life that are creating significant stress, and contributing to the depression. Psychological therapy is almost always recommended instead of or with actual medication.
Individuals who feel that they are experiencing some of the listed symptoms and have been for a period of two weeks or more should consult their personal physician and explain in-depth their feelings.
Psychology Information Online. Available: http://www.psychologyinfo.com/depression/index.html (2001. April 16).
“Symptoms of Depression” Dr. Koop (Online). Available: http://www.drkoop.com/wellness/mental_health/depression/page_336_735.asp (2001. April 16).
“Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors” The Body (Online). Available: http://www.thebody.com/pinf/seroton.html (2001. April 16).