Reality Of Depression

Reality Of Depression
What Is Depression?
With all that is going on around us in the world today, a lot of people report feeling down and sad. But are they really depressed? Do they have “clinical depression”?
Clinical depression, or otherwise known as Major depressive Disorder in the medical field, is a psychiatric disorder that affects around 10% of the world population. Feeling down or “not happy” does not necessarily mean that you are depressed; in fact, in most cases it is not. Depression is much more than that; it is a medical disease that affects your psyche, body, and health. Just like most other diseases, it can significantly impair your life and functioning especially if it is not treated

Causes Of Depression?
Major depression is an imbalance in the chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, mostly serotonin along with Dopamine and Norepinephrine.  It results from a combination of two things: genes and environment, or in other words “nature and nurture”.
Some people are predisposed for depression in that they have the genes that make them more susceptible to get depressed; these people often have family members who are depressed. In fact, if someone has a family history of depression, then she/he has a significantly increased risk of getting depressed. On the other hand, the environment in which people are brought in have a significant effect on the risk of getting depressed. History of abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual) in childhood, loss of loved ones, poor social conditions, and several other factors contribute increase the risk of someone becoming depressed.

Diagnosing Depression
In terms of diagnosis, it is a disorder that, like all other medical disorders, has criteria that need to be met before the diagnosis is made. These criteria revolve around these nine fields:

1. Mood: feeling depressed; however, some people, and especially children and adolescents, are more irritable than depressed.
2. Anhedonia: loss of interest, “do not enjoy doing anything; nothing brings me pleasure”.
3. Sleep: problems falling asleep, waking up several times at night, and mostly early morning awakening. Some people have hypersomnia instead and sleep most of the time.
4. Appetite: poor appetite and weight loss; “food does not have taste anymore”. As in sleep, some people suffer from hyperphagia instead; that is, they eat too much.
5. Energy: feeling fatigued all day.
6. Concentration: hard time focusing; is easily distracted.
7.Psychomotor retardation or agitation: people telling you you’re acting “slow” or “snappy, loud”.
8. Guilt: excessive feelings of guilt.
9. Suicide: you start thinking about death “I wish I do not wake up tomorrow… I wish I was dead”.
Five out of these nine symptoms should be present for one month before you can say someone is clinically depressed. Moreover, this should cause impairment of functioning; that is, these symptoms are profound enough to make you miss work, not go out with friends, want to stay home all day, or other examples of not being functional.

Before Diagnosing Depression
There are several things that need to be looked at before diagnosing depression: substance abuse, medications, and medical illnesses. As for substance abuse, it is important to make sure that the depression is not caused by substances like alcohol. A lot of people believe that drinking alcohol will “make things better or make me forget”. However, alcohol by definition is a “chemical depressant” by acting on receptors in the brain, mostly GABA receptors and can cause what is called “substance induced depressive disorder”.  This disorder can also be caused by several medications as well, like steroids, Digoxin (for heart disease), and even medications used to treat high blood pressure. Finally, some medical illnesses like anemia (low blood count) and hypothyroidism can cause depression and thus have to be treated before considering treating the resulting depression.

Things to keep in Mind
Depression is medical disease that should not be diagnosed haphazardly. It has specific criteria and conditions that need to be met before moving on to treatment. There is so much more to talk about depression and how it impacts the lives of people around the world, the rich and the poor, the young and the old, and the men and the women. It is important to consult your doctor preferably a psychiatrists before taking any decisions regarding your mental health.

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