I. General Information about Depression
Depression – a disease of our time. Studies worldwide show that depression, like cardiovascular diseases, is the most common disease of our time. This common disorder affects millions of people. According to Canadian Health&Care Mall researchers, it affects up to 20% of developed countries population.
Depression is a serious disease that dramatically reduces ability to work and brings suffering to both patient and his relatives. Unfortunately, very few people are aware of typical manifestations and consequences of depression, so many patients receive help, when their state becomes severe, and sometimes – they don’t. In almost all developed countries, health services are concerned about this situation and make efforts to promote information about depression and how to treat it.
Typical Signs of Depression
Depression manifestations are very diverse and vary according to disease form. Here are the most common symptoms:
- grief, sorrow, melancholy, depressed mood, despair;
- anxiety, inner tension, expectation of troubles;
- sense of guilt, frequent self-blame;
- self-dissatisfaction, decreased self-confidence, low self-esteem;
- reduction or loss of ability to experience pleasure in previously enjoyable activities;
- decreased interest to surroundings;
- loss of ability to experience any feelings (in cases of severe depression);
- depression is often associated with anxiety about health and fate of the loved ones, as well as fear to seem inadequate in public places.
- sleep disorders (insomnia, drowsiness);
- changes in appetite (overeating or loss of it);
- bowel dysfunction (constipation);
- decrease in sexual desire;
- decreased energy, excessive fatigue under normal physical and mental load, weakness;
- pain and different unpleasant sensations in the body (for example, heart, stomach, muscles).
- passiveness, difficulties with involving in task-oriented activity;
- avoidance of contacts (solitary disposition nature, loss of interest to other people);
- refusal of entertainment;
- alcoholism and abuse of psychoactive substances, giving temporary relief.
- difficulties with concentration;
- difficulties with making decisions;
- prevalence of gloomy, negative thoughts about oneself, life, the world in general;
- gloomy, pessimistic vision of future with lack of perspectives, thoughts of meaninglessness of life;
- thoughts of suicide (in severe cases of depression);
- thoughts of own uselessness, insignificance, helplessness;
- slowness of thought.
To make diagnosis «depression» it is necessary that some of these symptoms persisted for at least two weeks.
Depression Needs to be Treated
Depression is often perceived by both patients and others as signs of bad temper, laziness and selfishness, immorality or natural pessimism. Keep in mind that depression is not just a bad mood, but a disease, that requires intervention of professionals and is well curable. The earlier correct diagnosis is made and proper treatment is started, the better the chances for quick recovery are, that depression won’t appear again and become severe, accompanied by desire to commit suicide.
What usually prevents people from seeking help with depression?
Often people are afraid to see specialist in mental disorders because of suggested negative consequences:
- possible social restrictions (registration, prohibition to drive car and travel abroad);
- condemnation if someone finds out that a patient is treated by psychiatrist;
- fear of depression drug treatment negative impact, based on widely spread, but incorrect idea about dangers of psychotropic drugs.
Often, people do not have necessary information and proper understanding of their condition nature. They think that if their condition is caused by obvious difficulties in life, it is not a depression, but a normal human reaction, which will disappear on its own. Often it also happens that physiological depression signs contribute to forming beliefs about presence of serious somatic diseases. It is a reason to consult primary care doctor.
80% of depressed patients initially seek help from primary care doctor, but correct diagnosis is made to about 5% of them. Even fewer patients get adequate therapy. Unfortunately, during usual consultation in the clinic it is not always possible to distinguish between physiological manifestations of depression and presence of true somatic diseases, which leads to misdiagnosis. Patients are prescribed symptomatic therapy (medicines «for heart», «for stomach», «for headache»), but improvement does not occur. There are thoughts about difficult, unrecognized somatic disease, which according to vicious circle mechanism leads to depression worsening. Patients spend a lot of time undergoing clinical and laboratory tests, and, as a rule, get to psychiatrist already with severe, chronic depression manifestations.
II. Scientific Knowledge about Depression
Main Types of Depression
Depression frequently occurs on the background of stress or long-existing severe traumatic situations. Sometimes they occur for no apparent reason. Depression can be accompanied by somatic diseases (cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, etc.). In such cases, it makes main somatic disease course severer and prognosis harder. However, with early depression detection and treatment there is a rapid improvement in mental and physical health.
Depression can occur as single, different in severity episodes or has a long-lasting course with repeated relapses.
At some patients depression is chronic – lasts for years without reaching significant severity degree.
Sometimes depression is limited mainly to physical symptoms without distinct emotional manifestations. At the same time clinical and laboratory tests can not detect any organic changes. In such cases, you need to consult a psychiatrist.