Learn to detect depression: symptoms, warning signs, medications

Filed in: Diseases & Conditions.

What is depression?

A PET scan compares brain activity during periods of depression (left) with normal brain activity (right).

While everyone feels sad from time to time, if that happens most days for more than two weeks, it could mean that clinical depression is occurring. Major depression is a period of sadness, irritability or low motivation that occurs with other symptoms, lasts at least two weeks in a row and is severe enough to negatively affect life. Depression is not a sign of weakness or a character defect. It is a real and treatable medical disease.

These PET scans of the brain indicate low activity in a person suffering from depression compared to someone who is not depressed.

Depression: emotional symptoms

A depressed businessman looks at his martini. "src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s2_man_bar.jpg

The most prominent symptoms of depression They are usually a sad or irritable mood and / or loss of interest in all or most of the activities that used to be pleasurable. Patients may also feel guilt despite not doing anything wrong, such as feeling helpless, hopeless, and / or having recurring thoughts of wanting to die, kill themselves or harm themselves, such as cutting or burning.

Symptoms of depression: Physicists

The woman with back pain has physical symptoms of depression. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s3_sore_back.jpg

Depression can sometimes be associated with physical symptoms. Examples may include the following:

Tiredness and low energy level. Problems sleeping, especially when waking up early in the morning. Sleep too much. Pain or discomfort, especially. Headachesmuscle cramps or digestive problems (for example, stomach pains, Diarrheaor constipation) that do not improve even with pain-focused treatment Feeling or looking slow or agitated

Depression can make many other medical problems worse, especially those that cause chronic pain. Certain brain chemicals affect pain and mood, and treating depression tends to improve the symptoms and results of many physical illnesses.

Depression: appetite symptoms

A depressed woman drinks fruit in a bowl. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s4_picking_at_food.jpg

Some people with depression experience an increase or decrease in appetite, which can lead to a substantial loss or weight gain.

How depression can affect daily life

A depressed woman sits on her bed while her husband sleeps. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s5_woman_sitting_bed.jpg

If left untreated, the symptoms of depression can adversely affect the patient's activities, relationships and career. Depressed people often have problems concentrating and making decisions. They can stop participating in the activities they used to enjoy, including sex, and not spend more time with their loved ones. In severe cases, depression can be fatal as a result of homicide or suicide.

Warning signs of suicide

A depressed woman sits alone in the dark. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s6_woman_dark_hotel.jpg

People with depression are at risk of attempting suicide. Warning signs may include talking about suicide or death, threatening to hurt others, becoming irritable or taking excessive risks, giving away personal belongings or resolving personal issues. Any warning sign of suicide should be taken very seriously and immediate help should be sought, either through the nearest emergency room or in a conversation with a suicide hotline. Two direct suicide hotlines include 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) and 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).

Who is at risk of developing depression?

Three very absorbed adults sit next to each other. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s7_3_people_sitting.jpg

While anyone can develop depression, it is generally thought that a family history of depression is a risk factor for the disease. For example, being the son or brother of a depressed person increases the risk of developing a depressive disorder. Women are twice as likely as men to have this condition at some time in their lives. The frequency with which depression occurs can be difficult to determine since the symptoms of this disease can vary somewhat according to gender, age and ethnic origin.

Causes of depression

Illustration of neurons (nerve cells) in the brain that communicate through neurotransmitters. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s8_brain_synapse.jpg

While it is not clear what specifically causes depression, a widely accepted theory is a change in brain structure and chemistry. Specifically, substances called neurotransmitters are unbalanced in depressed people. Possible causes of the imbalance include certain medications, alcohol or substance abuse, hormonal or seasonal changes, or suffering a traumatic event, such as being a victim of abuse or losing a loved one or a job.

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Seasonal depression

Some people are more depressed in a certain season. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s9_trees.jpg

If someone has a pattern of depression in a particular season, he or she may have a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Although SAD can occur in any season, it is more likely to occur in autumn and winter, when the daylight hours are shorter. Research shows that SAD occurs in 3% -20% of all people, depending on where they live.

Postpartum depression

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What people commonly call "baby blues" affects 75% of new mothers. More than 10% of those women experience a more severe and persistent sadness, even if their baby is healthy. That condition, called postpartum depression, has symptoms that are very similar to the symptoms of major depression. However, in postpartum depression, the baby's well-being may be at risk since a depressed mother may have trouble enjoying, bonding and caring for her baby. In rare cases, the mother can become a danger to herself or her baby.

Depression in children

A child deals with depression. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s11_depressed_boy.jpg

Depression affects 2% of children in primary school and about 10% of adolescents in the United States. It can harm friendships and school performance of the child or adolescent. Many of the symptoms are similar to those of depressed adults, but depression may be more difficult to diagnose in children, in part because they may revert to earlier behaviors (regression), appear angry, or engage in risky behaviors.

Preschoolers can also suffer from depression

A sad and depressed preschool child playing with toys. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s11a_depressed_preschool_boy.jpg

HealthDay news article on MedicineNet

MONDAY, August 4, 2014 – "Researchers report that depression can affect any age, even among preschoolers."

And if it does happen, the disorder is more likely to recur during childhood, a new study shows … "Read the full article in MedicineNet

Diagnosis of depression

The woman takes note of each of her depression symptoms for her doctor. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s12_woman_writing.jpg

A specific blood test for depression has not yet been developed. Therefore, physicians should use the description of the victim's symptoms to diagnose this condition. Other information that is generally collected as part of the evaluation includes information about medical history, substance abuse and the use of medications, since these problems can contribute to the symptoms of depression. Understanding the medical and mental health history of someone's family can help determine your risk of developing. Discussing moods, behaviors, and daily activities can help the mental health professional evaluate the severity and type of depression the person is experiencing. Collecting all this information is important for the professional in order to provide the best treatment.

Conversation therapy for depression

A session of psychological therapy. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s13_therapy.jpg

Research shows that different forms of talk therapy (psychotherapy) can help relieve mild to moderate depression. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help the individual modify the ways of thinking and behaving that can lead to depression. Interpersonal therapy works with the depressed person to understand how their ways of interacting with others can contribute to depression. Psychodynamic therapy helps the person suffering from depression to understand and understand how the problems of their past can unconsciously affect their current moods and actions. Studies indicate that most people who have their first episode of major depression need at least six months of treatment to resolve the depressive episode.

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Medications for depression

Medications that are taken to control depression. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s14_depression_pill.jpg

Many medications, antidepressants, are effective for the treatment of depression. These medications affect the levels of brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. It may take a few weeks to feel the positive effect of these medications, so it is important to stay alert to take them and work with a doctor in the process. Studies show that people who suffer from depression tend to improve faster and more robustly when treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medications compared to treatment with medication or therapy alone.

Exercise for depression

A woman does yoga under a tree. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s15_yoga.jpg

Studies show that moderate exercise can be an important part of relieving mild to moderate depression, because it causes the release of chemicals called endorphins. In addition to the medical benefits of exercise, the release of endorphins tends to raise mood and self-esteem, decrease stress, increase energy level and improve sleep. Participating in only 30 minutes of activity that raises the heart rate three to four times a week is enough for anyone to get the benefits of exercise.

Light therapy (phototherapy)

A man uses light therapy to treat his depression. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s16_man_on_computer.jpg

Light therapy, also called phototherapy, can be an effective treatment for SAD and others types of depression. This form of treatment involves sitting in front of a medical light box that emits a specific type of light for several minutes a day. Phototherapy should only be used when recommended by a doctor and is often used with psychotherapy or medication to achieve the best effects.

St. John's Wort for depression

Pills and flowers of St. John's wort, an herbal remedy that can help treat mild depression. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s17_st_johns_wort.jpg

St. John's wort is an herbal supplement that has been found as a potential aid for mild depression, but two large studies have shown that it is not effective against moderate or severe depression. In addition, St. John's wort may interact poorly with other medications. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor before taking this or any other supplement.

Pets for depression

A man hugs his dog. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s18_man_and_dog.jpg

While the pets they love can not take the place of psychotherapy and medication in the treatment of depression, these family members can be useful for many people suffering from mild depression. Pets relieve stress by providing love and companionship. Research shows that animal-assisted therapy can also reduce the agitation that often accompanies depression.

The role of social support

The rugby players form a group. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s19_huddle.jpg

Since loneliness often accompanies depression, having good relationships and social support can be an important part of recovering from this disease. Joining a support group, either in person or online, having regular contact with your loved ones or joining a club can help avoid social isolation. The spiritual connection, either with other people in a place of worship or simply believing in a power greater than oneself, can also help decrease depression.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

A man has a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS). "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s20_nerve_stimulator.jpg

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) helps patients suffering from chronic depression resistant to treatment that does not improve with the combination of psychotherapy and medication. VNS requires the surgical insertion of an electrical device that relieves depression by inducing a normal electrical pattern in the brain by sending electrical pulses through the vagus nerve in the neck.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Health professionals perform an ECG on a patient. "Src =" https://images.onhealth.com/images/slideshow/depression_s21_electro_therapy.jpg

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is another treatment option for people who struggle with severe depression resistant to treatment. This tr

Reference: https://www.onhealth.com/content/1/depression_mental_health

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