Is Depression a Disease?

Is Depression a Disease?

Depression includes many disorders that can disrupt how a person thinks, feels, and acts, such as anxiety and item-specific phobias. While its effects have proven to be debilitating if left untreated, the good news is that depression symptoms not only can be treated, but minimized with therapy and medication as needed. Here’s how it works.

What is Mental Illness?

There is no such thing as one mental illness. Mental illness encompasses “a wide range of disorders that affect mood, thinking and behavior” per Megellan Health Insights. It affects people around the world of all ages, and doesn’t discriminate against wealth, poverty, creed, ethnicity, or gender. Depression can’t be cured by medicine or force of will, and its roots are deeply planted in soil rich with biology and brain chemistry, family history, and experiences with trauma and abuse.

Mental illness is common worldwide, with causes and symptoms unique to each person. Uncovering what’s bothering a person, and identifying triggers and how to minimize them, takes time, compassion, therapy and sometimes medication like ketamine. Besides depression, mental illness may include:

  • Anxiety – these are most common, affecting upwards of 25 million Americans.
  • Mood disorders, including bipolar.
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia – affecting a person’s ability to feel, behave, and think clearly.
  • Trauma disorders – as when a person has trouble recovering from a terrifying experience.
  • Eating disorders – either consuming too much or too little food.
  • Addictive behaviors – such as doing whatever necessary to drink alcohol or smoke a cigarette.

Risk Factors and Causes of Depression

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.” It’s a mental health disorder observed in people over 12, but mostly in adults 32 and older. Here are the risks to watch out for:

  • A history of depression may result in someone else in the family having the illness later.
  • Experiencing major life events like marriage, births, deaths, stress, or trauma.
  • Taking certain medications or experiencing physical illnesses.
  • If you suffer from low self-esteem, are regularly stressed, or are pessimistic.
  • Your environment. Depression may be common in people with regular exposure to violence, abuse or poverty, or neglect.
  • If you’re depressed, brain scans may identify your frontal lobe as less active than in someone who isn’t depressed. Changes in how the hypothalamus and pituitary gland respond to hormone stimulation may also be a cause.
  • Multiple medical conditions, including sleep disorders, medical problems, anxiety, chronic pain, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can lead to depression.
  • Misusing drugs and alcohol. In 2018, 21% of adults coupled a substance use disorder with a major depressive episode.

Treatment and Therapy

Depression as a mental illness responds differently to therapy and medication for each person in which it’s diagnosed. Mental illness encompasses many disorders, and there are many kinds of therapy for depression. The key is diagnosis and following a treatment plan. Diagnosis is confirmed if a person has been experiencing depression for two weeks, with a treatment plan customized as needed.

Treatment may include all or any one of the following:

  • Psychotherapy and its subsets, like family-focused therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and interpersonal therapy.
  • Medications like ketamine, but also mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotic medications.
  • Prescribing regular exercise for mild symptoms. Some insurance plans offer discounts for local gym memberships.
  • A doctor or therapist may suggest brain stimulation therapies if other therapy or medication doesn’t work. Depressive disorder with psychosis may require electroconvulsive therapy, while severe depression could result in the need for repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.
  • A low-pressure treatment is light therapy, which helps regulate the hormone melatonin by using a lightbox to bathe the patient in full-spectrum light.
  • Creative approaches, like meditation, faith, acupuncture, and nutrition could be included in a treatment plan.

Besides psychotherapy, antidepressants, or holistic therapies, researchers have shown results for ketamine to treat common symptoms of depression. A report on neuropsychopharmacology affirms its use for treating social anxiety disorders, while another by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows it helps the management of anxiety and anxiety spectrum disorders.

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression or know someone that is we would like to invite you to contact us today to learn more about the different treatment alternatives that we offer.

 

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How to Help Someone with Depression

How to Help Someone with Depression

When someone is dealing with depression they are often not the only ones who are suffering. Trying to help someone who’s depressed is often a frustrating, confusing experience. You want to see them get better, but at the same time, you don’t want to do anything that might make the situation worse. As a result, interactions can become tense, simply because you’re trying not to make a mistake. And if you do say or do something that’s poorly received, there’s a danger of becoming resentful that your best efforts are not appreciated. So, how to help someone with depression? Mental health professionals suggest you try some of the following methods.

First Things First: Understanding What You’re Up Against

Before you’re in a position to offer help you need to have a good idea of what depression is and what it isn’t. So let’s begin with a quick primer on this vexing condition.

    It is a serious condition – Every year untold numbers of depressed people end their own lives. This should be evidence enough that this is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. So don’t underestimate it, don’t trivialize it and don’t think you’re going to wave some magic motivational wand and everything’s going to be better. It’s going to take time and effort.

 

  • It’s not personal – Family and friends sometimes take it personally when a depressed person doesn’t respond to their efforts in a positive way. They may even think the depressed person is getting some kind of joy out of putting up roadblocks to help. Keep in mind that the depressed person is often just as confused and upset as you are. So don’t take it personally.

 

  • It is possible to recover – There may come a time when you are tempted to throw in the towel and walk away. “I tried” is a common response to depression. Try to remember that depression isn’t like a cold or flu that can be expected to pass in a few days. There is no set timeline for recovery. But recovery is possible. So be patient and get on with your own life in the meantime.

 

  • It’s not a character flaw – When their best efforts seem to get nowhere, people are often tempted to resort to blaming the depressed person. “They’re just lazy” and “They just want attention” are common responses to being rebuffed. Try to remember depression is not a character flaw. It’s a serious and often stubborn medical condition.

 

How to Help Someone with Depression

 

Now that we have a better idea of what depression is and isn’t let’s look at how to help someone with depression.

 

  • Positive reinforcement – Tell the depressed person you care and that they’re important to you. Listen when they want to speak and don’t judge. Instead of telling them you understand, just listen. Or hold their hand. Or let them cry on your shoulder. The important thing is not to expect an immediate response. Often this type of support has an incremental effect that is real but hard to measure.

 

  • Leave the tough love at the door – Whether you’re treating a broken arm or depression, it’s crucial that you use appropriate treatments. Tough love has its place. But not when it comes to helping someone with depression. You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken arm to just “get over it”. And you shouldn’t say that to someone with depression.

 

  • Resist comparing your experience with theirs – When someone’s going through a hard time it’s common to offer solace by relating how you got through your own difficult situation. But unless you’ve recovered from depression yourself this type of approach is likely to backfire. It may seem like you’re trying to make light of their condition.

 

  • Stay connected – Above all, don’t become resentful and withdraw from the depressed person’s life. Stay connected with them while going on about your own business. Stay upbeat and show that your love is not contingent upon their physical, mental or emotional state. You care about them and that’s that.

 

Conclusion

 

Remember that recovery from depression is possible although it sometimes takes longer than we wish it would. The key is to be patient, don’t take it personally and try and separate the person from the condition. There is an array of treatments available that can help with depression today. One that has shown extraordinary promise in recent years is ketamine. Some are saying it as the biggest breakthrough in depression treatment in decades. Make sure that when treatments are discussed for your loved one that ketamine treatment is considered.

How Depression Affects Family

Depression is a mood disorder that affects millions of people in the country every year. Its symptoms appear different in nearly every person suffering. It can affect your physical and mental health, and bring great stress upon your interpersonal relationships. (more…)

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