» Download Audio
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.