Depressive disorders affect more and more people around the world. They usually come unexpectedly and it is very difficult for us to deal with them on our own. Few people are aware that depression is one of the most common causes of death today. Why is it like that? Is there an effective cure for it?
What is depression?
Many people mistakenly equate depression with feeling sad. In fact, it’s a much deeper problem with a much more complex symptom.
Depression is a group of mood and activity disorders. They last for a long time and are a great burden for the patient. They have an impact on his daily life and functioning in society.
Depressive disorders are of a long-term nature. For many months, they destroy the body and effectively discourage contact with others. They cause withdrawal, sadness and chronic lack of will to live. Additionally, patients are often misunderstood – it is difficult for healthy people to understand how depression changes a person and they usually do not know how to console a depressed person.
The causes of depression
Depression is a complex disorder that can occur for many reasons. Its most common causes include:
- endogenous factors – these are innate features that can lead to development of depression. Although it is very difficult to pinpoint a specific cause of depression, scientists point to heredity;
- exogenous factors – external causes that may affect the appearance of the disease. Usually these are unexpected stressful situations, traumatic events or a somatic disease;
- the disease may appear in combination with other serious disorders. Patients who struggle with addictions, eating problems and neurosis very often also exhibit depressive states.
Types of depression and symptoms
As already mentioned, depression is a very complex disorder. Therefore, there is no single way to classify and divide. Even doctors are often unable to clearly define what type of depression a patient has.
One of the most common types of depression is endogenous depression, also known as major depression or unipolar depression. Its causes include the previously described endogenous factors – it results from disturbances in the functioning of the nervous system and usually requires pharmacological treatment. Appropriate medications and psychotherapy are able to restore the proper functioning of the patient’s nervous system. A person suffering from endogenous depression feels deep sadness and is indifferent in dealing with others. Has problems with memory, concentration and may have thoughts of suicide.
Masked depression is a much more difficult type of disease to diagnose. It does not show typical symptoms of depressive disorders. The sick person does not feel sad or depressed. However, he suffers from problems such as headaches and stomachaches, sleep disorders, sexual disorders, eating disorders and menstrual cycle disorders. May experience anxiety states, e.g. panic attacks, shortness of breath, high blood pressure. Symptoms of depression worsen under difficult life events and lessen or disappear under the administration of antidepressants.
It belongs to one of the more severe types of the disease. Patients live in constant stress and tension related to the sense of danger. The anxiety they experience practically all the time makes them strongly agitated and irritable. Due to the high tension, patients can be dangerous to themselves and to others. They very often exhibit suicidal thoughts. The most effective treatment for patients with anxiety depression is pharmacological treatment.
A frequent ailment after childbirth is baby blues, i.e. postpartum sadness. It occurs in most new moms and lasts for several days. It is the result of hormonal changes in a woman’s body and it passes by itself. It is much worse when the condition continues and turns into postpartum depression. In addition to the other symptoms characteristic of depression, the disorder includes concerns about raising a child. A woman in this state may not be interested in her child, and in extreme situations she is even able to hurt the child. Treatment of postpartum depression usually involves therapy by a psychologist or psychiatrist.
The last type of depression that we would like to highlight is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), i.e. seasonal depression. It is a group of symptoms caused by a shortening of the day. They occur in late fall and winter and usually last less than 5 weeks. People suffering from SAD complain of feeling sleepy with simultaneous sleep problems, lack of energy and increased appetite. Patients experience a mood swing.
Treatment of depression
It is estimated that more than half of people suffering from depression do not seek specialist help. Unfortunately, awareness of the serious consequences of depression in our society is still low. Untreated, it may cause irreversible consequences, including the patient’s suicide.
Depending on the type of depression and its severity, treatment may include psychotherapy or drug treatment. The first effects of therapy are usually visible two weeks after its commencement. It usually takes 2 to 3 months for depressive states to completely resolve. The use of drugs improves in more than half of patients. However, antidepressants are a burden on the body and can be addictive.
Psychotherapy in the treatment of depression
Psychotherapy is very effective in depression treatment. It usually lasts at least a dozen or so weeks and includes therapeutic sessions during which the patient learns how to deal with mental problems. Sessions with a psychotherapist are an opportunity to work on emotional control, self-understanding and to talk about fears. Psychotherapy helps you achieve emotional balance and prepares you to return to social life.
Read more: Psychotherapy