The term "depression" is loosely banded around to describe someone who is feeling low, but in reality, feeling this way doesn't necessarily imply a depressive illness. To be given a diagnosis of depression, you need to have a number of symptoms which are present every day for at least two weeks.
What are the symptoms of depression?
For a doctor to confirm a diagnosis of depression, an individual must have at least two of the following three overriding symptoms: persistent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in the things that he/she used to enjoy and/or a lack of energy.
Doctors then look for associated symptoms which include problems sleeping, poor concentration, low self-confidence, poor or increased appetite, suicidal tendencies, agitation or slowing of movements, guilt or self-blame.
The more of these associated symptoms the depressed person has, the more severe the depression. Four symptoms points to mild depression, six symptoms equate to moderate depression and eight or more is a sign of someone with severe depression. For someone to be diagnosed with depression, doctors will really be looking for these symptoms to have been present daily and for most of the day for at least a fortnight.
Who gets depressed?
People most likely to get depressed don't have an obvious physical blueprint. Depression is a disease of the mind and is likely a complex mix of interactions between our genes, body chemistry, the wiring of our brains and life experiences. Depression certainly isn't a weakness or something you can fight off at will.
Can depression be treated?
Thankfully, everyone with depression is treatable. It may take perseverance and effort to find the right treatment or treatment combination that works for a particular individual, but there is no reason why anyone cannot be treated.
Antidepressants are tablets that treat the symptoms of depression. It is thought that antidepressants work by changing the levels of a group of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. There are many different kinds of antidepressants which are divided into several different classes depending on the way they work. Antidepressants are usually reserved for depression that is moderate or severe.
Counseling & Therapy.
There are different types of talking therapy for depression including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic psychotherapy and various other forms of talking therapies. They give people a chance to discuss, explore and resolve their issues. A common first option for people with mild depression is a simple 10 – 12 sessions of CBT which helps participants to change the way they think and eliminate negative thought patterns.
Group therapy and Day Care
Group therapy can be very helpful for people with depression. For those who can't stay away from home overnight, group therapy in a day care environment can provide a space to learn coping skills, share concerns and receive encouragement. When people with similar problems are brought together, they can usually share their thoughts and feelings with each other which can helps them to feel less isolated. Day care can also be a step-down following a period of in-patient care for people with depression who require intensive care but are not at risk. Treatment includes CBT and Interpersonal therapy groups combined with health education workshops to help patients understand, explore and learn to cope with their condition.
In Patient Care.
Sometimes depression can be so severe that patients benefit from regular, intense treatment in a safe caring environment. This becomes particularly relevant when one's ability to self care is compromised or in instances when there is preoccupation with suicidal ideas. Here patients have access to daily treatment which can include both medications and talking therapies to help the individual achieve a happier and more functional mood state.
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