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Depression: Symptoms - Causes - Treatment

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Depression is one of the commonest psychological conditions nowadays. It is defined as chronic and recurrent mood disorder. 

Clinical depression refers to the persistence of the symptoms for a long period of time which result in affection of everyday life. 

What are the causes of depression ?

  • Most commonly it is related to life events. 
  • Depression can be caused by hormonal changes. Thyroid problems and menopause can cause hormonal changes which can lead to depression.
  • Traumatic events during childhood can leave a permanent effect in the brain.
  • Changes in neurotransmitters in the brain.

Symptoms of depression can include any of the following: 
- Persistent sad mood
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
- Feeling guilty
- Feeling hopeless
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Fatique and loss of energy
- Crying spells for no apparent reason
- Unexplained physical problems as headache and back pains

In children, symptoms of depression include poor school performance, lack of playfulness, suicidal actions.

What should be done to treat depressive disorders ?   

  • Stop depressing drugs as steroids and alcohol.
  • Regular exercise (at least a 30 minutes walk daily)
  • Your doctor can put you on an antidepressant if depression persists. 
  • If antidepressants didn't work, an adjunctive drug (as lithium) can be used.
  • The use of cognitive behaviour therapy can be of great help in depression. 
  • Get plenty of sleep.

The most effective treatment is a mixture of cognitive behaviour therapy and an antidepressant.
The commonest two types of antidepressants are tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).

Bottomline (if possible) try to avoid any cause of depression and if you feel that you need help, please do not hesitate to seek help from a psychologist whenever you feel that you are going through a psychological problem.

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