What is Depression?
Depression is a common mental health condition in which an individual experiences unusual levels of sadness for an extended period of time. Depression is thought to be more prevalent in young women compared to young men, but it affects older men and women at about the same rate. Many individuals are unaware that they are depressed due to a variety of factors, including lack of mental health education, slowed onset, and a variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Many individuals delay or outright refuse to seek treatment due for depression, leading to ongoing impairments in work performance, social relationships, and familial responsibilities.
Around 300 million adults have been diagnosed with depression and around 3-8% of children and teens also experience depression. If you, or someone you know, are experiencing depression, it is important to seek medical attention in order to get the support you need.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression can be manifested in a number of different ways. Common symptoms of depression include:
- A lack of interest or pleasure in doing things, also called “anhedonia”
- Decreased concentration, brain fog, or clouded thinking
- Excessive feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or unworthiness
- Inability to fall asleep (“insomnia”) or excessive sleep (“hypersomnia”)
- Changes in eating habits and excessive weight gain or weight loss
- Thoughts that one would be better off dead (“suicidal ideation”)
Types of Depression
Though many people view depression as a singular condition, there are many variations that can affect an individual. In some cases, a person may experience depression as a result of a long winter while others may feel depressed for years at a time.
Chronic depression is a rarer type of depression which causes an individual to experience a given level of depression for years at a time. Typically, it is offered as a diagnosis after a patient reports feelings of depression for a minimum of two years.
Chronic depression is sometimes referred to as dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder (PDD).
Unlike other types of depression, which may present for a few months or weeks before returning to normal, patients with chronic depression will have no “up-swings” in their mood for years at a time. It is often described as a persistent yet mild feeling of depression that cannot be alleviated.
Manic depression is the previous terminology used by the medical community to describe bipolar disorder. This condition causes a patient to shift between moods of extreme elation (or mania) and periods of extreme depression.
To learn more about bipolar disorder, click here.
Postpartum depression is a type of depression that can occur after female parents give birth. This condition occurs in as many as 1 in 7 female parents, and it begins to develop shortly after the birth of the baby. However, some parents may have experienced depression throughout their pregnancy as well.
This type of depression is often referred to as “baby blues.” Parents affected by postpartum depression often cite the need to focus solely on their child as a reason not to pursue treatment. It is important, however, for parents to receive the support they deserve so that they can safely recover from postpartum depression.
Seasonal affective disorder, also referred to as SAD, is a type of depression that is experienced only at a specific time of year (e.g., in the fall or winter) and full remission occurs at a different time of year (e.g., spring). Though it can happen during any season, the majority of people diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder experience their period of depression during the fall and winter months.
Because SAD tends to affect individuals at the same time every year, those afflicted often anticipate negative feelings, causing anxiety leading up to that season. However, there are many treatment options available to people experiencing this type of depression, including small doses of antidepressants and brief therapy.
Treatments for Depression
As depression is a common medical condition affecting millions of adults and children, there are quite a few treatment options available. For some, finding a treatment that works for them is a relatively fast process. For others, finding the right treatment, or combination of treatments, can take a considerable amount of coordinated time and effort from you and your healthcare provider.
One of the first lines of treatment for depression is therapy, sometimes referred to as psychotherapy. There are several methods used by therapists to help people with depression develop better coping mechanisms and skills to handle heir condition.
Currently, the most popular type of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy, though many individuals benefit from cognitive or behavioral therapy (separately), acceptance-commitment therapy, and other orientations.
Today there are hundreds of medications proven to be effective in treating depression. This gives patients and doctors a wealth of options if initial approaches fail. Doctors and patients work together to find the right medications and ideal dosages.
Antidepressants most commonly fall into two categories: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). There are other medications, like Wellbutrin, that do not fall into these classes which can offer patients relief from their depression as successfully as SSRIs and SNRIs. While SSRIs and SNRIs are typically considered to be the first-line and second-line approaches to depression treatment, other types of antidepressants have historically been used such as tricyclics (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These drugs tend to have a significantly higher incidence of side-effects and are rarely used today.
Express Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for Depression
For individuals who have not experienced any relief from their symptoms through traditional methods of treatment like conventional medication and therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may be a good choice.
The FDA approved TMS to be used in treating patients with depression in 2008 due to the high rate of success and extremely low incidence of side-effects. TMS has been effectively used for over a decade to promote health in areas of the brain which become less active during periods of depression. The painless electrical pulses used in TMS “reactivate” these brain areas, promoting neuroplasticity and resulting in a relief of depressive symptoms.
Ketamine Infusions for Depression
Ketamine is a radical new treatment available for individuals suffering from severe depression. This treatment is most frequently used in patients who are actively idealizing suicidal feelings or have repeated attempts to commit suicide. By receiving carefully-monitored doses of ketamine through an IV, patients may experience reduced feelings of depression in as little as a few hours. However, Ketamine infusions are considered to be an “off-label” treatment for depression and are not yet FDA approved
To schedule your consultation, or for more information about how your depression may be treated through Express TMS or Ketamine infusions, please contact us today.