Who can be Affected by Depression?
For the most part, depression is not common among a specific age group or gender group; it can happen to anyone. However, several studies indicated that over the past few years, the prevalence of this disorder in adolescents and young adults has grown. For example, according to research by Mojtabai et al. (2016), “in the context of little change in mental health treatments, trends in prevalence translate into a growing number of young people with untreated depression” (p. 1). Moreover, scientists point out that many young depressed patients do not receive or do not have access to psychiatric treatment. This is the issue that requires thorough attention and renewed outreach efforts.
Causes of Depression
Depression may be caused by a number of different reasons, including environmental and physical. The main driving force behind depression is a lack of serotonin. According to Fekadu et al. (2017), “serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter with a wide range distribution throughout the central nervous system” (p. 256). It is essential for human health as it regulates basic physiologic activities such as pain tolerance, appetite, and mood. If the transmission of serotonin is somehow disrupted, it leads to mood changes and depressive disorders. Moreover, the dysfunction of the serotonergic system can be enforced by such factors as trauma, stressful life circumstances, drug, and alcohol abuse. Genetics, other medical conditions, and medications can also be a reason for the lack of serotonin and the following manifestation of negative emotion. The hormonal factor is critical, as the same study by Fekadu et al. (2017) indicated that low estrogen levels during the menstrual cycle among females increase susceptibility to depression (p. 257). Nevertheless, depression is a severe condition that affects a person mentally, physically, emotionally, and is needs immediate diagnosis and treatment.
Initial Signs of Depression
The main and most visible sign of depression is that a patient’s perception of life changes fundamentally for the worse, becoming more pessimistic. Furthermore, “the effect of depression on cognitive function determines daily function in the long term and also influences to which degree patients are capable of psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic improvement” (Gonda et al., 2015, p. 27). Depressed patients reported feeling sad and hopeless, sometimes even empty and numb. They tend to isolate and deprive themselves of social interactions. Eating patterns can also be distorted; a patient may either succumb to binge eating or not eat at all. The hobbies that brought enjoyment are no longer exciting, and a patient is unwilling to look for new activities.
Moreover, depressed people often experience partial memory loss or the inability to think clearly due to brain changes caused by the disorder. Insomnia is another alarming symptom as the lack of sleep increases the negative effects of other illnesses. Finally, some of the most dangerous signs of depression include patients’ desire to hurt themselves and thoughts of death and suicide. Researchers note that “depression is a major risk factor for suicide observed in adolescents; it’s one of the leading causes of death in this age group” (Fekadu et al., 2017, p. 256). For this reason, patients with suicidal tendencies need to be immediately hospitalized.
Different Types of Depression
Researchers indicate several types of depression. For instance, Fekadu et al. (2017) describe dysthymic disorder, postpartum, seasonal, psychotic, and situational depression. In cases of dysthymia patients “display depressed mood or sadness that persists for the majority of the duration of the day for a minimum of two years” (p. 255). Postpartum depression affects mothers who had their firstborn and are anxious about their ability to take care of a child. Seasonal depression occurs during fall or winter and is caused mostly by weather changes. Situational depression is a type of disorder that is experienced after undergoing traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one, an accident, a dramatic life change. Psychotic depression is commonly seen as a “combination of depression and psychotic features such as hallucinations or delusions” (Fekadu et al., 2017, p. 255).
However, there are many other types of depressive disorders, such as manic depression and typical depression, which are connected to bipolar disorder. Premenstrual Dysphoric Depression is the type of disorder that occurs during the menstrual cycle and is caused by rapid hormone changes. Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) was only recently introduced as a depressive disorder, and it occurs among children and teenagers, causing extreme irritability and angriness.
There are several ways to treat depression pharmacologically, mostly with antidepressants antipsychotics, anxiolytics, and mood stabilizers. Research by Olfson et al. (2016) demonstrated that “antipsychotics are effective adjunctive treatments for patients who have not responded to multiple antidepressant trials” (p. 1490). Moreover, mood stabilizers also can play a significant role in treating agitation or anger issues, which are often associated with depressive disorders. However, to ensure the success of treatment, doctors combine methods of pharmacological and psychological treatment.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular interventions that are used for depressed patients. A study by Sockol (2015) suggests that “strong evidence that CBT interventions are effective for treating and preventing depression” (p. 20). The other method is psychodynamic treatment, which “can be employed either as brief psychotherapy (approximately 3–6 months) aimed at relief of depressive symptoms or as a longer-term treatment” (Buschet al., 2016, p. 9). There are several advantages and disadvantages to both short-term and long-term treatments. A short-term treatment helps patients to recognize and understand triggers that cause their depressive symptoms. However, long-term treatment is more useful because it helps to analyze personality problems and internal conflicts, more thoroughly.
Furthermore, such a program as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is also known as an effective way to treat depressive symptoms. According to Greeson et al. (2015), is “a standardized, 8-week program that involves intensive training in mindfulness meditation to help individuals cope with stress, pain, and illness” (p. 168). Nevertheless, while taking care of mental is important, taking care of the body can also play a significant role in recovering from depression. Getting enough sleep and healthy nutrition prevent the escalation of the disorder. Social support is also crucial in this matter as depressed patients tend to lose connection with their family and friends. Besides, the social stigma around depression prevents them from getting help, so support may encourage them to undergo treatment.
In conclusion, it would appear that people should be more careful about their mental health. While depression may be interpreted as mere sadness or feeling low, it is a serious issue that requires prompt attention from doctors. It is a long and complicated process that includes employing different types of treatment, some of them can work, and some cannot. Nevertheless, it is still possible to continue living a healthy life when getting the appropriate help that is needed.
Busch, F. N., Rudden, M., & Shapiro, T. (2016). Psychodynamic treatment of depression. American Psychiatric Pub.
Fekadu, N., Shibeshi, W., & Engidawork, E. (2017). Major depressive disorder: Pathophysiology and clinical management. Journal of Depression and Anxiety, 6(1), 255-257.
Gonda, X., Pompili, M., Serafini, G., Carvalho, A. F., Rihmer, Z., & Dome, P. (2015). The role of cognitive dysfunction in the symptoms and remission from depression. Annals of General Psychiatry, 14(1), 27.
Greeson, J. M., Smoski, M. J., Suarez, E. C., Brantley, J. G., Ekblad, A. G., Lynch, T. R., & Wolever, R. Q. (2015). Decreased symptoms of depression after mindfulness-based stress reduction: Potential moderating effects of religiosity, spirituality, trait mindfulness, sex, and age. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(3), 166-174.
Mojtabai, R., Olfson, M., & Han, B. (2016). National trends in the prevalence and treatment of depression in adolescents and young adults. Pediatrics, 138(6), 1-12.
Olfson, M., Blanco, C., & Marcus, S. C. (2016). Treatment of adult depression in the United States. JAMA Internal Medicine, 176(10), 1482-1491.
Sockol, L. E. (2015). A systematic review of the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy for treating and preventing perinatal depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 177, 7-21.