Major depression know as clinical depression affects about 17.3 million men and women according to the National Institute of Mental Heath. It is found to be more common in women than men. About 1.9 million children 3-17 have been diagnosed with depression. Depression has been linked to physical illnesses like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Over 7 million people 65 and over suffer from depression. It is a very common mental disorder.
When someone has clinical depression they suffer from feeling of apathy, sadness, hopelessness, and despair. It is hard to work, attend school, eat, and enjoy daily activities. Clinical depression causes lack of interest in normal activities. The symptoms are fatigue, guilt, shame, poor concentration, insomnia, restlessness, weight loss, and weight gain. Often it goes undiagnosed and treated. Women are believed to be at higher risk for depression due to hormonal changes at puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriage, and menopause. Other factor that cause depression in women are stress at work, raising children, and caring for elderly relatives.
Depression in men often is not treated or diagnosed. Men that suffer from depression often do not seek professional help or even talk about it. Signs of depression in men are anger, alcohol and drug abuse, and lack of interest in normal activities. Causes of major depression are loss of a family member or close friend, isolation, life changes, abusive relationships, illness,, and substance abuse. Clinical depression is the most serious from of depression there is.
Genetics are often a cause of clinical depression. Physical illness can be a big risk for those suffering from depression. Often these illnesses occur with the depression. Other factors are hormones and chemicals in the body. Often there are chemicals in the brain that cause depression. Depression runs in families and can be inherited. Those with certain personality traits are more likely to get depressed. Traits that lead to depression are negative thinking, low self-esteem, perfectionism, not managing stress, overdependence on people, and difficult life situations.
Changes in mood and hormones in the body often lead to clinical depression. It often occurs when someone gets a major illness. This is not a normal or natural reaction to illness. Some medications that people take can increase depression in people. These are blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, birth control pills, and antibiotics. Even lack of essential vitamins can cause depression in women, seniors, men, and children.
Clinical depression needs professional treatment. Patients do not have the symptom one day, and then they disappear. It can last weeks and even years. Some forms of clinical depression develop into serious situations where the person cannot function. When you suffer from serious depression for more than two weeks professional help should be sought. Men may experience trouble sleeping, irritability, and fatigue. Often women feel worthless and guilty. Children with depression may be bored or perform poorly in school. They may suffer from illness like headaches and stomachaches. The child might stop eating or have trouble sleeping.
Signs of serious depression in teens is an increase in risk taking behavior. They may drive a car recklessly, drink alcohol or take drugs, or engage in unprotected sex. They may be very angry or cry more easily. Sometimes they spend more time alone and are not engaged in a hobby or activity. Those with clinical depression talk about suicidal thoughts or suicide.
Seeking Treatment For Clinical Depression
When seeking help for someone with clinical depression make an appointment with the doctor for a physical to rule out any serious medical conditions. In a serious situation seek help at the emergency room at the local hospital. Ask someone to go to the appointment or accompany the family member or friend to the doctor or emergency room. Emergency room visits are when the person cannot care for themselves or are in danger of hurting themselves.
A regular doctor or primary care provider can refer the patient to a mental health facility or hospital for treatment. The person will be given tests to make a diagnosis of their condition. Severe clinical depression might be treated with inpatient care or outpatient care depending on the severity. There many be several medical personnel that make the diagnosis. Most clinical depression is treated with medication and talk therapy. Often the two are combined.
The person may meet with a social worker, psychiatric nurse, technician or psychiatrist. Sometime the facility or hospital has a day program or overnight program that patients participate in. These program have group therapy, family therapy, activities, and meals. With talk therapy called psychotherapy the therapist identifies the cause of the depression and works with the patient to make lifestyle changes that improve their daily routine. They work on goals and new way of coping.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used in the treatment of clinical depression. This therapy helps the patient learn to recognize and change negative thoughts patterns. Behavioral therapy helps patients learn new habits that help fight depression. Patients learn methods of relaxation, assertiveness training, role-playing, and time management skills. The results are monitored by the patients by keeping a journal and records.
There are many types of antidepressants that can be prescribed for depression. Sometimes the doctor has to try more than one before they find the right one. This requires patience because the effects are not immediate. For those with very severe clinical depression electro shock therapy or transcranial magnetic stimulation is used. Short term use of these techniques has proved effective.
Electro shock therapy is used for patients that don’t respond to medications or cannot take them. It is often done under anesthesia where electric current passes into the brain. This generates a small seizure in the person. It can reverse the symptoms of severe clinical depression. The procedure today is much safer that years ago.. It is used for clinical depression and other mental illnesses. It can be done when in the hospital or as an outpatient.
This therapy is often given ten minutes at a time two to three times a week. It will last for three to four weeks. They will place an electrode on the side of the patients head. Often muscle relaxants are prescribed to help the patient relax. After the procedure, the patient often experiences some confusion. Many patients see an improvement after six treatments. Most patients return to normals activities after the treatment.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a noninvasive procedure that stimulates the brain cells using magnetic impulses. It is used for clinical depression. A coil is place against the patients scalp that delivers shocks that stimulate the brain cells. This area of the brain controls moods and depression. This treatment improves the patient’s mood. It is a safe procedure for patients. Side effects are headaches, tingling, spasm, and lightheaded. A physical exam is needed before they provide treatment.
This procedure can be done on an outpatient basis. Often it is given five times a week for four to six weeks at a time. The procedure takes about 40 minutes. After treatment patients often have to continue with talk therapy and medications.
Lifestyle changes are an important part of the treatment for clinical depression. Patients should stick with their treatment plans, attend appointments, and take medications regularly. They should cut down on alcohol and avoid recreational drugs. Alcohol often reacts negatively with prescribed medications. Patients learn to eat a healthy diet and develop a regular exercise program. It can be walking, working out at the gym, biking, running, swimming, gardening, or participating in team sports. Regular sleep is another important activity that helps regulate moods.
Other supplemental therapies may be provided or suggested as part of treatment for clinical depression. They are meditation, music or art therapy, aerobics, massage therapy, and acupuncture. Other suggestions are to cut down on activities, write in a journal, join a support group, or take supplements. Clinical depression needs to be treated professionally to improve the chance of recovery..