What is the real meaning of depression?

Depression
Depression can strike at any time, but on average, the age of onset is late teens to mid-20s.

Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is when an individual has intense feelings of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness lasting for many days and weeks. Depression is not a weakness but serious illness. Depression, a mood disorder, is more commonly diagnosed among females. Untreated, depression could have serious consequences such as suicidal deaths.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression can strike at any time, but on average, the age of onset is late teens to mid-20s. Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a depression diagnosis.  Common symptoms seen in the patients with depression:

  • Sadness.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed (anhedonia).
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain, unrelated to dieting.
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
  • Loss of energy or increased weakness.
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others).
  • Feeling worthless or guilty.
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

What is a nervous breakdown? 

A nervous breakdown or mental breakdown is a type of anxiety disorder when an individual can’t cope with extreme stress or extreme worry that’s impacting their daily life. There may be many causes for nervous breakdowns like money issues or psychological burnout. The symptoms may vary from person to person. Our bodies and minds respond to stress in different ways. Below are few common symptoms of a nervous breakdown:

  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety: Anxiety and depression are common symptoms of a nervous breakdown. When a person is having a nervous breakdown, they might experience uncontrollable guilt with crying. They may even struggle with self-esteem and confidence.
  • Disturbance in sleep pattern: A change in sleep cycle is a symptom of nervous breakdown. They may either sleep too much or may be sleep deprived.
  • Extreme tiredness: Activities that were previously handled with ease may become increasingly difficult. And things that used to bring you joy may lose their appeal due to extreme tiredness and weakness due to stress and a nervous breakdown.
  • Change in appetite: When a person is in the middle of a breakdown, they become less motivated regarding their diet leading them to skip meals, overeat an unhealthy diet.
  • Physical pain: Headache and stomach aches are most common physical pain experienced during a nervous breakdown and stress. Nervous breakdowns can hamper the process of digestion.
  • Trouble breathing: Breathing difficulty is a classic symptom of a nervous breakdown and anxiety.

How to treat depression

While there are treatment methods that have been determined to be effective across populations, given the individual variability of response to treatment, there should not be a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.

  • Antidepressants (SSRIs): Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Fluoxetine (Prozac) are considered to be the best option and are the most commonly used drugs for the treatment of depression. The SSRIs help in activating the cells that have been deactivated by depression, relieving the depressed person's symptoms.SSRIs have few side effects and patients generally tolerate SSRIs well. These work by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the “feel good” hormone of the brain.
  • Dual-action antidepressants: Norepinephrine and serotonin hormones play an important role in a person's mood and ability to concentrate. Low levels of these hormones can cause depression. Dual acting antidepressants like Venlafaxine (Effexor) increase hormone levels by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin.
  • Atypical antidepressants: Atypical antidepressants such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) act differently by increasing the levels of neuro-chemicals such as mood stabilizers in brain nerves.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): Monoamine oxidase is the main enzyme that breaks down neuro-chemicals, such as norepinephrine. When monoamine oxidase is inhibited, the norepinephrine is not broken down and; therefore, the amount of norepinephrine in the brain is increased. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are the earliest developed antidepressants. Examples of MAOIs include phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate). 
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): They are called tricyclic antidepressants because their chemical structures consist of three chemical rings. TCAs work mainly by increasing the level of norepinephrine in the brain nerves, although they also may affect serotonin levels. Doctors often use TCAs to treat moderate to severe depression. Examples of tricyclic antidepressants are amitriptyline (Elavil) and protriptyline (Vivactil). TCAs are safe and generally well tolerated when properly prescribed and administered.
  • Phototherapy: Phototherapy is a particularly effective treatment for depression. A p atient is exposed to a cool-white fluorescent light for half an hour, every day.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): An ECT procedure is brain stimulation therapy; a physician passes an electric current through the brain to produce controlled convulsions (seizures). ECT is useful for certain patients, particularly for those who cannot take or have not responded to a number of antidepressants. This therapy is effective in patients who have severe depression, and/or areat a high risk for suicide
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) involves a physician passing an electrical current through an insulated coil that is placed on the surface of the depression sufferer's scalp. It induces a brief magnetic field that can change the electrical flow of the brain that is effective in easing symptoms of depression or anxiety. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is effective in patients who did not respond to psychiatric medications.
  • Psychotherapies: Many forms of psychotherapy are effective at helping depressed individuals, including some short-term (10 to 20 weeks) therapies. Talking therapies (psychotherapies) help patients gain insight into their problems and resolve them through a verbal give-and-take with the therapist. Behavioral therapists help patients learn how to obtain more satisfaction and rewards through their own actions. Interpersonal and cognitive/behavioral therapies are two of the short-term psychotherapies that research has shown to be helpful for some forms of depression. Interpersonal therapists focus on the patient's disturbed personal relationships that both cause and exacerbate the depression. Cognitive/behavioral therapists help patients change the negative styles of thinking and behaving that are often associated with depression. 

How to prevent depression

Depression is preventable through:

  • Counseling and timely help.
  • Developing healthy coping methods via Cognitive Behavioral therapy.
  • Social and family support.
  • Adjustment in marriage or domestic life.
  • Engaging in religious or spiritual practices can often prevent depression.
  • Increasing a sense of hope through self-motivation.

What is the prognosis of depression?

Clinical depression tends to occur in episodes. Most people who experience one such episode will eventually have another one. Also, it seems that any subsequent episodes of depression are more easily triggered than the first one. However, most depression sufferers recover from the episode. Research shows that even those people, who did not improve at first, responded when switching to another medication.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/26/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference
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