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Depression: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

A mental health illness, depression is not an uncommon condition in our society today, and can negatively impact the way a person acts and feels. It creates an overall feeling of sadness, and even loss of interest when it comes to activities a person once enjoyed. Depression can lead to physical and emotional issues, and reduce an individual’s ability to function within day-to-day routines, including work.

It’s important to remember that most of us have a feeling of sadness when it comes to experiencing the loss of a loved one, job, or when it comes to a relationship breakups; however, being grief-stricken, or feeling sad is not the same as clinical depression. Self-esteem is generally maintained when grieving, but when depression sets in, feelings of self-loathing often surface. Additionally, sadness and grief bring pains in waves, while major depression brings an overall loss of interest in almost anything, as well as a general feeling of being depressed and moody.

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of depression do vary from individual, and can range from severe to mild. Some signs of the illness include:

  • A sad or depressed feeling
  • Losing interest around hobbies or other activities, which at one point in time were enjoyed.
  • Issues around sleep
  • Decreased energy
  • Increased fatigue
  • Difficulty when it comes to making decisions, concentrating, or thinking
  • Feelings around guilt and worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts

It’s important to note that signs and symptoms around depression must last for a minimum of two weeks in order for a person to be diagnosed with this condition.

Treatment Options

The silver lining for those who suffer with depression is that there is a variety of treatment options to choose from. In fact, approximately 80 to 90% of individuals who suffer from depression have a positive response to treatment, and gain significant relief when it comes to the condition’s symptoms.

Some treatment options available for those who suffer from depression include:

Medication: For some, the issue of depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in their brain. Therefore, antidepressant medications can help to alter a person’s brain chemistry, and can produce positive results within the first or second week of usage; however, some may not notice any improvements in mood until two to three months after using this medication.

Psychotherapy: Also referred to as “talk therapy”, this can sometimes be an effective treatment on its own for patients suffering mild depression, or used hand-in-hand with medication for those who have moderate-to-severe cases of the condition.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is another form of therapy that is quite effective when it comes to depression. It focuses on problem solving and the present. It assists patients in recognizing their thinking, and looks at ways to help change behaviors in a positive way.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): A medical treatment used for those who suffer from either bipolar disorder or severe major depression, ECT is an option when all other treatments have not produced positive results. The procedure involves a short electric stimulation to a patient’s brain as they are under anesthesia. A patient will undergo ECT treatment for two to three times weekly, for about six to 12 weeks.

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