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.





The Ken Starr MD Wellness Group is the place to learn about addiction recovery strategies that have the ability to help you attain freedom. We’re innovative leaders in the treatment of medical detox, recovery, and wellness care. The Wellness Group provides substance abuse treatment, detox, counseling and Ketamine treatments. Come visit us on the California Central Coast.

Ken Starr MD is an expert in NAD+ treatments, Board Certified in Addiction Medicine and an experienced Ketamine provider. We Biohack recovery and detox so our patients can live their best life.


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Our Services:

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Disclaimer: This blog and channel are not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal, or other professional advice. No physician-patient relationship is formed by the public reading this blog.


What Causes Depression?

Depression affects millions of people, more women than men, with the symptoms popping up without warning. It can be brought on by stressful situations, biology, and other factors, but people experiencing it sometimes suffer in silence because of the stigma associated with it. Everyone reacts to the triggers differently, with some able to control or eliminate them, while others can’t and need help. Help may be available through therapy or by an innovative new treatment called ketamine infusion therapy.

What is Depression?

The Mayo Clinic says depression is more than the “blues” and states this:

“Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.”

Causes of Depression

Many people suffering from depression dismiss its symptoms, are certain it’s temporary and their lives will return to normal eventually. But what if it doesn’t? And do you know enough about its many causes to diagnose and treat it? Here are some sources identified by UC Berkley:

  • Biology and its implications. According to Harvard Medical researchers, biology shows a responsibility in clinical depression, with nerve cell growth, nerve cell connections, and how nerve circuits function all impacting emotions which could result in depression.
  • The role of stress. We know anyone can experience stress, and that can lead to depression if left untreated. Relationship and money problems can play a role, plus mental and physical health, family history, and support of loved ones.
  • Your psychological profile can lead to depression, especially if you have low self-esteem or inflated notions of superiority.
  • A pattern of misuse or abuse related to alcohol or drugs.

Are There Different Kinds of Depression?

A mental health professional may diagnose you with depression based on the duration of the symptoms. Here are five forms of depression:

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder is characterized by severe or mild symptoms and lasts at least two years.
  • Postpartum Depression can linger for weeks, taking root during pregnancy characterized by feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion.
  • Psychotic Depression is a noxious brew of serious depression combined with psychosis, where the new mom is delusional or is hallucinating.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder most often creeps up in the winter during times when there are fewer hours of natural sunlight. Characteristics include increased sleep, social withdrawal, weight gain but they disappear in the summer.
  • Bipolar disorder, distinct from depression, includes symptoms that meet the criteria for major depression such as low moods. But a person affected can have extreme feelings of irritability or euphoria, called mania, or a less serious form called “hypomania.”

Depression and Its Symptoms

Many people are truly depressed only once, while others can experience it daily. More frequent occurrences are as worrisome as single instances and there are many symptoms to watch out for:

  • When you are burdened by the weight of emotions like sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness.
  • If you experience outbursts of frustration, anger, or irritability caused by trivial problems.
  • You avoid hobbies, sports, intimacy – things you were once interested in and looked forward to.
  • Issues with sleeping, including not getting enough hours of rest, or even sleeping too long.
  • You’re physically tired or lack energy, especially while accomplishing chores of minimal effort.
  • Eating or weight problems, such as not having an appetite and eating less than normal, or weight gain from binge eating.
  • Everyday situations like making dinner or interacting with co-workers make you restless, agitated, or anxious.
  • You don’t think as quickly as you used to, or your body moves in slow motion.
  • Memories of past failure or guilt nag at you and you can’t shake them.
  • Your decision-making skills are diminished, due to trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, or overall hesitance.
  • You think of suicide or harming yourself or others.
  • You wonder why you have sudden headaches or body discomforts.

I think I have Depression, What Should I do?

Depression can affect anyone but is twice as likely to occur in females as males. Science says the causes are often hormonal, rising during puberty, the onset of menstrual problems, or the occurrence of pregnancy and giving birth. The symptoms can be severe, but also can be managed and treated.

Studies reveal a growing body of evidence that medicine can treat symptoms of depression. Ketamine, for instance, has been shown to treat anxiety and anxiety spectrum disorders, increasing its use in clinical settings. Another study shows the drug has been effective over the short-term in relieving symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder.

If you or a loved one is battling depression we would like to invite you to contact our practice today for a free consultation to learn more about Ketamine infusion therapy.




🔶ABOUT KEN STARR MD WELLNESS GROUP: The Ken Starr MD Wellness Group is the place to learn about addiction recovery strategies that have the ability to help you attain freedom. We’re innovative leaders in the treatment of medical detox, recovery, and wellness care. The Wellness Group provides substance abuse treatment, detox, counseling and Ketamine treatments. Come visit us on the California Central Coast. Ken Starr MD is an expert in NAD+ treatments, Board Certified in Addiction Medicine and an experienced Ketamine provider. We Biohack recovery and detox so our patients can live their best life.


Our Team:

Our Services:

NAD+ Therapy:






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CONTACT US: 📞805-242-12360 📧

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.




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…)

How Depression Affects Your Life

What is depression?

Depression is more than just being sad or feeling hopeless – it is a mental health disorder that can affect every aspect of your life. Depression can not be cured, and usually can not be recovered from quickly like the common cold or a stomach bug. For some, depression does just go away on its own, but for many others, depression will only worsen if left untreated over time. According to research done by the World Health Organization, depression may be the second greatest reason for disability across the globe, but only 10% of those suffering may ever receive any treatment that works for them. (more…)

Can Depression Cause Pain

Yes, there is a close link between pain and depression. It’s a vicious cycle — depression can cause pain, but pain can cause depression as well. Once this cycle has started, it’s a snowball effect where your pain makes your depression worse, and your depression makes the pain worse. Many people suffering from depression even report unexplained aches in their back or

Chronic pain can affect mood over time and tends to wear a person down. It also creates other problems that only contribute to depression, such as difficulty sleeping or stress. This chronic pain may also create issues with low self-esteem or may cause social withdrawal or loss of interest in hobbies.
Depression unfortunately, doesn’t just cause pain, it is also linked to other health conditions like
cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond the usual time it takes for an injury to heal. Chronic pain may also be described as, pain that lasts for longer than three months at a time. Some research indicates that up to half the people suffering from chronic pain also struggle from a depressive or anxiety disorder.

Chronic pain is an emotional condition just as much as it is a physical one. Chronic pain may cause a person to grow isolated from others, or lose the mobility they used to have. Chronic pain can also stem from other conditions like arthritis, migraines, heart disease, or diabetes.Because of the many similarities, it can sometimes be difficult to assess whether a person’s chronic pain triggered their depression, or whether it is the other way around. Someone suffering from chronic pain is three times more likely to develop depression and someone suffering from depression is three times as likely to develop chronic pain. Depression can only further debilitate a person suffering from chronic pain.

Unfortunately, these people are less likely to recognize that they are suffering from depression and thus, less likely to seek treatment. As much as half of the people suffering from depression are diagnosed by their healthcare professionals after only describing physical symptoms. Because pain and depression are so closely linked and difficult to distinguish, it is important to understand both depression and pain and how to treat both.  A person may be suffering from a combination of depression and chronic pain if they exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:

● Loss of interest in hobbies or activities

● Irritability
● Depressed mood
● Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little)
● Changes in appetite (weight gain or weight loss)
● Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
● Fatigue or loss of energy
● Difficulty concentrating
● Suicidal thoughts
What treatment options are available for depression and pain?
Fortunately, there are a multitude of treatment options that can provide relief from the symptoms of both chronic pain and depression. These include, but are not limited to:
Ketamine Infusion — An innovative new treatment option, research has shown that IV
Ketamine Infusion can help up to 80% of patients find relief from depression symptoms
or pain.
● Medication — Analgesics or antidepressant medications may be prescribed, but these
treatments will not work for everyone and may take months at a time before relief is felt.
● Therapy — Psychotherapy or talk therapy can help a person identify harmful thinking
patterns and replace them with more positive ones
● Stress-Reduction Skills — Exercise, meditation, and muscle relaxation are useful in
combating not just pain but also the symptoms of depression.
● Support Group — Consider seeking out a support group made up of others suffering
from depression and chronic pain. These are filled with people suffering from the same
thing as you who may have helpful solutions.
If you think you are experiencing depression and chronic pain, it is important to speak to your
primary healthcare provider for treatment. Seeking out treatment is not a sign of weakness, and untreated depression or chronic pain will only get worse with time.

Ketamine Infusions

An innovative new treatment option, Ketamine is an FDA-approved anesthetic that has been found to provide rapid relief from depression and anxiety when infused at a low dose. The FDA
has recently approved Esketamine, a nasal spray comprised of a compound based on Ketamine, for the treatment of depression and other mood disorders. Research indicates that
Ketamine stimulates the regrowth of synapses within the brain, essentially rewiring the parts of the brain that may be causing distress. Ketamine is also available as an infusion. Some
researchers maintain a 75% success rate when treating those suffering from depression or anxiety with Ketamine Infusions.