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Depression
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Depression is a disorder that affects your thoughts, moods, feelings, behavior and physical health. People used to think it was "all in your head" and that if you really tried, you could "pull yourself out of it." Doctors now know that depression is not a weakness, and you can't treat it on your own. It's a medical disorder with a biological or chemical basis.

Sometimes, a stressful life event triggers depression. Other times depression seems to occur spontaneously with no identifiable specific cause. Whatever the cause, depression is much more than grieving or a bout of the blues.

Depression may occur only once in a person's life. Often, however, it occurs as repeated episodes over a lifetime, with periods free of depression in between. Or it may be a chronic condition, requiring ongoing treatment over a lifetime.

Medications are available that are generally safe and effective, even for the most severe depression. With proper treatment, most people with serious depression improve, often within weeks, and can return to normal daily activities.

The symptoms of depression often overlap the symptoms of the physical illness --
fatigue, aches and pains, confusion, anxiety, and others. Rather than dismiss these as "just part of being sick," depression should be considered. Serious illness can trigger a depression, so depression should especially be considered if one is not well physically.

In the young and in the elderly, depression often goes untreated because of the standard justifications, "It's just a phase" (for young people) and "That's just part of getting older" (for older people). If the "phase" continues for more than two weeks, depression should be considered. "Just getting older" should never include the symptoms of depression on an ongoing basis.

Causes of Depression: 

The human brain has biochemical messengers of communication that are known as neurotransmitters. (Neuro refers to the brain cells and transmitter to sending and receiving information.) When neurotransmitters are at appropriate levels, the brain functions harmoniously. We tend to feel good. We have hope, purpose, and direction. Although we certainly experience the ups and downs of life, the overall mood is one of well-being, confidence, and security.

Research indicates that a deficiency in some of the neurotransmitters may be one cause of depression. Depressed people have this biochemical / neurotransmitter imbalance, which is sometimes genetic. This internal biological imbalance causes the brain to function at less than optimum levels. It is this biochemical imbalance that leads to the mental, emotional, and physical ramifications known as depression.


Treatment of Depression

In addition to hypericum, which we will discuss shortly, there are two medically proven methods of treating depression

  • Two specific forms of "talk" therapy and 

  • Antidepressant medication.

    The talk therapies are Cognitive Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy. They are short-term, usually less than twenty one-hour sessions. Both involve the therapist working with the client in reshaping the client's thinking, perceptions, and view of the world so that they better serve the client. 
    These therapies rely on the fact that if one's view -- one's cognition -- of the world, relationships, and oneself is made less depressing, then one tends to feel less depressed. 
    Some people have never learned to see the world, themselves, and their relationships in anything but depressing terms. Cognitive and Interpersonal therapies aim at teaching a person how to live more reasonably, joyfully, and productively. 

  • The second form of treatment is antidepressant medication. In the past few decades, antidepressant medications have dramatically changed the way in which depression is treated. 

  • Depression - St. John's wort

 

Depression > next > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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Disclaimer

This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The Integrated Medical Clinic be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

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Last Modified : 03/15/08 12:12 AM