Depression (Major Depressive Disorder – MDD)
Depression is the term commonly given to the mental illness with the medical name Major Depressive Disorders. Symptoms and diagnostic criteria are included in the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – Fifth Version, published by the American Psychiatric Association or APA).
Seretonin deficiency has most often been attributed to depression in individuals, along with low self-esteem, external locus of control and negative and self-blaming ways of thinking. The class of drugs mainly used to treat depression are SSRIs (Selective Seretonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Perhaps the best known drug of this class is Prozac (the brand name for fluoxetine).
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy or CBT also helps alleviate the disease’s symptoms. Psychological studies have shown that a pharmacological approach combined with CBT gives the best results.
Some patients cannot take antidepressants because it produces hypomania in them. Also, patients with Bipolar Disorder have to take mood stabilizers, such as Lamotrigine, for their depressive episodes because antidepressants could trigger a manic episode.
Depression is not weakness of character, as it was once considered. Numerous neuroimaging studies have shown brain differences in people with MDD as opposed to controls. Both neurochemical and structural differences were seen in the comparisons of the subjects’ brains.
Prolonged, untreated and severe MDD may lead to brain atrophy. For example, in one study mice who were depressed had damage to the hippocampus, the brain structure responsible for memory. However, mice who exercised exhibited neurogenesis or the birth of new neural cells.
Depression feels awful. Nothing that one loved or enjoyed before seems appealing anymore. One symptom is social isolation. When you are depressed, you do not feel like socializing with anyone. Nonetheless, psychiatrists and psychologists alike, recommend social support as a contributing factor to relieving the illness.
Depression is cyclical, in the sense that it comes and goes. Someone who has had one episode of depression is likely to have another one, while untreated depression sometimes goes away on its own. Nevertheless, depression is a very dangerous mental illness. Individuals with MDD may commit suicide.
Neurochemical imbalances in the brain almost always lead to some consequences. Take dopamine, for example. The illicit street drug cocaine produces a rush that releases an extreme amount of dopamine into the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in the reward circuitry. Thus, once the user becomes habituated to the high, nothing else can produce those emotions. Apparently, the euphoria felt during a cocaine high is only comparable to that felt after a huge accomplishment, if then.
Natural ways of battling depression or just depressed mood (two very different things!) include exercise, since it produces endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s own feel-good mechanisms. Other methods include eating pasta and turkey. Both foods contain tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin (the main neurotransmitter lacking in quantity in persons with Major Depressive Disorder).
Depression (the terms “depression”, “Major Depressive Disorder” and “MDD” are used interchangeably throughout the paper) presents selective attention. People with the condition tend to pay attention only to negative aspects of their lives. They focus on failures, on losses, on shortcomings, on bad luck. Indeed, this may be exactly why CBT has been documented as more effective in treating MDD than medication alone. CBT teaches healthy ways of thinking, because its premise lies that thoughts lead to feelings and emotions, which in turn lead to behaviour. By eliminating negativity and creating positivity, depressive symptoms may gradually be relieved.
Of course, the present paper is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The following article about depression or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) cannot be used for diagnosis. If you or someone you know has suicidal ideation, seek professional help immediately.