Depression is a mood disorder that affects many people around the world. More than 350 millions of people are experiencing some form of depression in the world.
Depression occurs in many different forms, with different diagnostic indicators,often different aetiology and different treatment strategy
Among them the three more common types of Depression are “Major Depression” or clinical depression, “Dysthymia”, also called persistent depressive disorder and “Bipolar Disorders” or manic depression.
Around the 6% of australians suffers from clinical depression, with numbers increasing from year to year and with a major prevalence among women population. Major depression is the more common form of depressive disorder and also the better known one so much that many people refers to it simply as “depression”.
It’s characterized by a wide range of symptoms, but in general we can say that an affected person suffers from a persistent lowering of mood that hinders his ability to deal with normal day to day activities. Together with this peculiar low mood some of the more frequent symptoms are sensation to be low on mental or physical energy, difficulties to getting to sleep, weight gains or loss, a general lost of interest in work and other activities and often suicidal thoughts.
When a low mood lasts for at least two years probably there is an ongoing persistent depressive disorder
Compared to clinical depression dysthymia allows some day to day activity to people affected by it but in any case it affects in some way working activity, sentimental life and other. It’s a chronic illness characterised mainly by a constant low self esteem, eating and sleeping disorders and lack of energy.
Bipolar disorder, affects people who experience extreme mood cycling between a depressive phase and manic, high energy, periods
Manic phases have a symptomatology opposed to that of depression, with high esteem, high energy in any daily activity, but also the emergence of risk taking habits, such as sexual sprees, betting and risky economic decisions. Depressive periods are, instead, characterised by a depressive symptomatology as per major depression.
In Australia is estimated that 1,3% of people are suffering by some form of bipolar disorder.
Depression has many possible causes, often people who experience these health conditions have developed them on the basis of several triggering factors. Causes falls into three categories: genetic, biological and psychosocial factors. There’s often a genetic predisposition to depression, but the effective trigger can be the consequence of a stressful event in life. After the birth of a child some women experience a post-natal depression, other people developes depression as a reaction to a loss or a great distressing situation like job loss and unemployment. Even divorces and important changing to daily routine like relocation can trigger a form of depression, as developing diseases or dysfunction like ED can originate depressive manifestations.
It’s also important to note that depression can be a risk factor to cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases.
There are two main approaches to treatment of depression
Pharmacological and psychotherapy. Sometimes are used in combination and, when these approaches don’t reach the expected results electroconvulsive therapy is adopted.
Pharmacological treatments it’s very effective in treatment of any depressive form. Use of antidepressants need some time to give results. The most prescribed antidepressants in Australia are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), like prozac, zoloft and celexa. What they do actually is the regulation of serotonin levels in the brain. The first important thing to assess is the kind of antidepressant that works best for every patient. Some medications have to be tested before choosing the right one for the therapy. Symptoms are typically addressed by medication in about two to four weeks and even when one feels better is very important not to discontinue the cure to avoid withdrawal symptomatology. Lifting a pharmacological cure must be slow and a constant attemption by a doctor is strictly necessary.
The major risks associated with antidepressant medications are their side effects, wich include even an increased risk of suicide. This is the reason why it’s so important a doctor’s supervision in pharmacological treatment of depression.
Psychotherapy is also effective in treatment of depression
Both cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) have proven equally effective in curing depression. CBT, more frequently adopted in Australia, focuses his work in helping patients to identify and correct thinking and behavior patterns that can induce depression. IPT aims to treat depressed patients by improving their social performances and interpersonal relations.
ECT approach is used when other therapies fail to treat the depression and in extreme situations like repeated suicide attempts. Benefits from this treatment are quick in comparison to other cures. Even 1 week of ECT can relieve symptoms of depression. The side effects of this approach, like confusion and short term amnesia must be taken into account by doctors and patients.
The most important thing to do when in a depression illness is to seek help from health structures
Australian government has several resources to address depression and other mental health conditions some of them active even in the web. Lifeline Australia offers an help for people with suicidal tendencies, and beyondblue operates in all national territory conducting several programs to help, inform and promote prevention for anxiety and depression related health issues.
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