Depression is more than just occasionally feeling “blue”. There are life situations that may cause us to feel sadness, sometimes profound, like the death of a loved one (grief). However, if that response stretches over a long time, the person’s response is no longer considered “normal” and a diagnosis of depression might be made.
Major depression is marked by the person’s inability to function. A diagnosis must include five of the following symptoms that occur simultaneously over a two-week period:
- Fatigue, loss of energy
- Feeling worthless or feelings of guilt
- Inability to concentrate
- Significant change in weight or appetite
- Depression lasts all day or most of the day
- Lack of interest or enjoyment in everyday activities
- Excessive sleep or daily insomnia
- Suicidal thoughts
Interestingly, I have found that many people who really are depressed are not aware that they are. They have always felt that way, so they do not consider it abnormal. It usually runs in families and because of that and social reasons, many depressed people are never given appropriate care.
There are many causes of depression (many things can alter our brain chemistry) ranging from life stressors, insufficient blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain, altered blood glucose level, fluctuation in hormones, food sensitivity or heavy metal toxicity.
There are many ways to approach depression. Some approaches are more successful than others and respond to different approaches differs from one person to another. Depression is a multi-facetted disorder that can also be treated from a holistic approach; even new trends in psychology acknowledge this.
At the level of psychiatry, depressive disorders are treated by one or more of three methods: drugs, psychosocial therapy, or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Drugs work by changing the way neurotransmitters work in the brain. Psychosocial therapy consists of interviews between the patient and a trained specialist to find out the causes of a person’s depression. ECT makes use of severe electrical shocks to treat a person’s depression by releasing more neurotransmitters.
In some depression cases such as those involving heavy metal toxicity, food sensitivities, and nutritional deficiencies; psychotherapy, antidepressants and electroshock therapy may not be the most appropriate avenue. In such cases, treatment is directed towards the cause.
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