What’s the Deal with Depression
All over the mainstream and social media platforms, awareness of mental health and depression is finally getting the attention it deserves. It’s reported that 15 million Americans battle depression, and as time passes the demographic trends are increasingly younger.
The reasons for this are complicated but it’s partly due to a more open dialogue on mental health issues. People understand more about themselves and are open to seeking mental health treatment. Diagnoses are multiplied when that happens.
But it’s useful to note depression has many forms and may present in different individuals through an array of symptoms that vary from one patient to the next. It may also be caused by a variety of triggers. We can break it down for simplicity into two generalized categories:
Situational - From loss, grief, heartbreak, money issues… this version of depression is caused by an external event, and these episodes are usually transient.
Endemic - These patients have depression that is hereditary, a history of past depressive episodes, and they present a more definable criteria for chronic depression that we have in psychiatry
Signs and symptoms of endemic depression
Depression, for the sufferer, is typified by an intense malaise accompanied by dysphoria - feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt pervade their mind to the point of causing mental dysfunction.
As a psychiatrist, I look at the clinical signs determined by the diagnostic manual. The symptoms will have persisted for some time, becoming a disorder rather than a situational occurrence. I have a mnemonic that helps people to spot the common signs of depression.
S - Sleep disturbances
I - loss of Interest
G - Guilt, rumination, worry
E - Energy loss
C - Concentration loss
A - Appetite loss or the opposite, resulting in overeating
P - slowing down, or “Psychomotor retardation”
S- Suicide. This is the most severe characteristic of depression, and signs of suicidal ideation should not be ignored. In these cases professional guidance is required.
Depression is often accompanied by anxiety, and the two disorders are strongly linked. When mixed with substance abuse and other serious complications or comorbidities, the danger of a bad outcome exponentially increases - whether it be injury, death, or even a worsening of existing mental illness.
The road out of depression
For severe cases it’s important to reach out for professional help. A psychiatrist can help a sufferer find the right medications that will work for them, helping their brain produce the chemicals needed for balance.
In turn, a psychologist can provide additional therapeutic treatment to help a sufferer view things from a different perspective, altering the mood and outlook of the mind itself. Usually techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy are used. This is where life events/issues are discussed with a therapist and new patterns of thinking are formed in response to the negative stimuli.
It’s also important to reach out to friends and family. In most successful cases a support system was in place to help the patient when another bout of depression may have come up.
In the case that a mental health professional is not immediately available, a useful tool is SAMSHA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) help line:
Bregman Medical Group has decades of experience treating depression and various other mental health issues. We offer convenient online psychiatry and therapy to patients across the country, right to your device! Simply schedule online at www.bregmanmd.com or call 786-321-4909.