What is Depression?
Individuals who feel incredibly sad for weeks or months may have a depressive disorder. This disorder also leads to individuals not engaging in normal activities such as work, hobbies, family gatherings and other events. If an individual is acting this way, then they need to seek medical treatment from a health care professional. Additional symptoms of this condition include irritability, guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness and others. Individuals may medicate themselves with food, smoking, illegal drugs or alcohol. Many individuals with depressive disorders lose appetite, have insomnia or are unable to concentrate. An individual may feel confused, embarrassed, or angry about why they feel sad or anxious. They may not understand that various medical conditions, traumatic life events, or medications can lead to clinical depression. In addition, a larger percentage of individuals who commit suicide have had this mood disorder.
Depression is a condition that reportedly affects 1 of 10 Americans at one point or another, but the incidence of depression is actually higher in some states than others. Certain ethnicities also report higher depression rates than do others.
Common Causes of Depressive Disorders
An individual may experience an extended time of sadness due to bereavement. The loss of a spouse, parents, siblings or children often leads to extended periods of low mood. Marital separation, divorce and relationship difficulties are often the cause of feelings of unhappiness, anxiousness and stress. Job loss, financial troubles, debts and bankruptcy can lead to depressive mood disorders. Physical illnesses, conditions and disorders may change brain chemistry leading to symptoms of depression. Illnesses that change chemicals inside the body include hypothyroidism. This condition reduces the activity of the thyroid gland and can occur in men or women. A reduction of thyroid hormone can lead to feelings of sadness and anxiousness. A woman going through menopause may feel sad because of hormone levels fluctuating in her body. Psychologically, menopause can make a women feel sad because she can no longer become pregnant.
Additional Causes of Depressive Disorders
A man may have depression symptoms because of an androgen deficiency of the testosterone hormone. He may develop osteoporosis, headaches, loss of muscle, decrease in hair growth and low mood. Addison’s disease causes the adrenal glands to reduce production of steroid hormones. Any changes in hormone levels can lead to a feeling of sadness, stress and anxiousness. Individuals with chronic health conditions such as Lyme disease or multiple sclerosis are frequently diagnosed with low mood disorders. Both of these conditions change the brain’s activity and chemical levels. Sleep disorders are a common cause of depression. Unusual circadian rhythms or breathing difficulties while sleeping can change brain chemistry. In addition, a lack of sleep can disturb an individual’s thinking patterns, hormone levels and mood. Individuals with chronic arthritis, cancer conditions and other painful disorders may become depressed. Prescription and over-the-counter medications can also create a side effect of low mood.
Low Mood with other Psychiatric Conditions
A low mood symptom can be combined with other mental disorders. Borderline personality disorder causes mood instability. An individual may rapidly change from a happy to sad mood in a short amount of time. Patients with this condition may try to harm themselves by using alcohol, illegal drugs, reckless behavior, being sexually promiscuous or attempting suicide. Individuals who have experienced a traumatic event may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. They have lost the ability to cope with everyday life. This causes feelings of anxiousness, stress, hypervigilance, anger and depression. Common sources of post-traumatic stress disorder include sexual, emotional or physical abuse. Workers in various occupations are prone to develop depression due to post-traumatic stress disorder. These occupations include police officers, emergency medical personnel and soldiers located in war zones.
Importance of Treatment for Mood Disorders
An individual who has signs of depression for an extended length of time must seek medical attention. If a friend or relative knows an individual who is depressed, then they should suggest seeking help for the condition. Even when an individual is aware of the cause of their depression, treatment is necessary. A physician, psychiatrist or other medical specialist will examine a patient with blood and metabolic tests, physical examinations and other diagnostic procedures. There will be tests to determine thyroid levels, infectious diseases, chronic conditions and alcohol abuse. Aging adults may have brain scans for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia disorders. All age groups can develop signs of depression including children, teenagers and adults. This condition occurs in men and women in all geographic regions.
Clinical Depressive Disorders
An individual who presents with a cluster of signs is diagnosed as having major depressive disorder. A primary indicator is a patient who has attempted suicide or talks about suicide. It is imperative that an individual with clinical depressive disorder seek medical attention from a mental health expert. Loss of sleep, chronic fatigue, lack of appetite and chronic unhappiness indicates an individual needs intervention. Family members or close friends may need to take the initiative to get the individual to a clinic, hospital or mental health facility for treatment. Major episodes of depressive disorders can last for several months. Clinical depressive disorders occur in approximately 20 percent of women and 10 percent of men. Young adults are the most susceptible to having a long-term experience with a depressive disorder.
Appropriate Treatment Plans
Each patient who experiences depressive disorders must have a treatment plan. Counseling sessions with a therapist or psychiatrist are combined with antidepressant medications. There are several prescription medications available to treat mood disorders. Patients will work closely with a therapist to find the antidepressants that change their mood. Brain chemistry will slowly improve over several months with drug therapy. Medication will raise the dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin chemicals in the brain. A patient may require hospitalization with some cases of severe depressive episodes. Occasionally, electroconvulsive therapy is used on patients who do not have results from other therapies.