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Down with Depressio

1. Everyone has a bad day once in a while. Problems at work, arguments with family members, or even changes in the weather can all bring us down and leave us feeling unhappy for a day or two. But if this mood lasts for more than a few days, a person may be suffering from depression, and will need to seek the advice of a physician.

2. Depression is a mood disorder classified by its own peculiar symptoms. These include a pervasive feeling of sadness, disruption of sleep patterns including both insomnia and hypersomnia, disturbances in appetite and weight, listlessness, lack of interest (leading to withdrawal from friends and social events), diminished ability in memory and concentration, low self-esteem and feelings of guilt, and finally, thoughts of suicide-the most serious symptom of all.

3. The causes of depression are unique to each individual and very complex. Tendencies toward depression can run in families, pointing to a genetic link in many cases. The roots of a depressive episode may lie in one's childhood environment, or in a traumatic event in later life. It is generally believed, however, that neurochemical imbalances and disruptions in the brain are above all responsible for triggering depressive symptoms. The good news is that there are several effective treatments available to fight depression, and that most sufferers begin feeling better within several weeks of beginning therapy.

Before undergoing treatment for depression, a person must first meet certain criteria: He or she must exhibit five or more major symptoms almost daily for a minimum of two weeks, and at least one of these symptoms must be a marked lack of interest or pleasure in activities, or a depressed mood. If symptoms are evident and show no sign of decreasing, a doctor will decide how to treat the problem.

Several antidepressant drugs, including Prozac, work well in battling depression. The goal of drug therapy is to treat the illness and handle its symptoms so the afflicted person will feel well enough to resume a normal daily routine. Although antidepressants are much safer than their predecessors introduced in the late 1950s, about 30 percent of patients are immune to their effects. Even for those who are not, it usually takes two to four weeks before the symptoms begin subsiding.

Nonpharmacological treatments include psychotherapy and electroshock therapy. The purpose of psychotherapy is to reduce and treat symptoms through patients discussing their emotions and depression with a qualified professional. It may also be used to help both the sufferer and his or her family members learn how to cope with depression. Electroshock therapy, which consists of running an electric current through a patient while under anesthetic, is administered only to those victims who are suicidal and require immediate treatment, or to those with severe refractory depression.


1. 每个人都会偶尔的遇上倒霉的事。工作中的问题、家庭成员的争执、甚至天气的变化都能让我们沮丧一阵子,难过一两天。但是如果这种情绪持续了好些天,那么这个人就有可能是患了忧郁症,需要向大夫求助。

2. 忧郁症是情绪上的失调,可以根据其独有的症状加以辨别。症状包括长时间的情绪低落、睡眠不规律(包括失眠及睡眠过度)、食欲不振及体重减轻、无精打采、缺乏兴趣(导致疏远朋友、回避社会活动)、记忆力衰退、无法集中注意力、缺乏自信和负罪感,最终则会出现自杀的念头──这是忧郁症最严重的症状。

3. 忧郁症的肇因因人而异,而且十分复杂。忧郁症的倾向会世代相传,在许多情况下与基因有关。其根源可能是由于幼年环境,或是在晚年经历了痛苦而难忘的事件。然而,尤其是神经化学的失衡和脑神经分裂被公认为引发忧郁症的原因。好消息是现在已有数种有效的治疗方法问世,而且大部分患者在最初数周的治疗后即会有所好转。  

在接受忧郁症的治疗之前,病人首先必须符合一定的条件:至少连续在两周内每日出现五种以上主要症状,并且至少其中一种明显症状就是,表现为对各种活动缺乏兴趣、兴致,情绪低 落。如果症状明显,且毫无改善迹象,医生就会视情况治疗。

好几种抗忧郁的药物, 如“百忧解”,对治疗忧郁症效果显著。药物治疗的目标是针对疾病缓解症状,使受折磨的人能感觉舒适,重新正常生活。虽然现今抗忧郁的药物比五十年代末推荐使用的更可靠,但对约百分之三十的患者还是没有疗效。即使是没有抗药性的患者,也得花上二至四星期,症状才会开始消退。

非药物治疗则包括心理疗法及电疗法。心理疗法的目的是通过合格的专业心理医生同患者探讨其情绪及忧郁的问题来减轻、改善患者症状。同时这也能指导患者及其家人学 习如何对待忧郁症。电疗法是将电流通过在麻醉状态下的患者,实施的对象仅限於有自杀之虞、需要立即治疗者,或是严重到难以医治的忧郁症患者。

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