Major Depression

shahbasharat Jan 10, 2008 Health
Health, beyond doubts, is sound body with sound mind'. Depression can make you realize how important it is to be healthy. Depression is one of such conditions where you apparently have nothing wrong with your body yet you feel miserable. So, what is it, where it is, and, why is it there if you cannot see it.
Health, beyond doubts, is sound body with sound mind'. Depression can make you realize how important it is to be healthy. Depression is one of such conditions where you apparently have nothing wrong with your body yet you feel miserable. So, what is it, where it is, and, why is it there if you cannot see it.

Each one of us feels depressed once in a while especially when there is a reason to be sad. Then, what is the difference between being depressed and suffering from depression? In other words, can one be depressed without suffering from depression? Well, this article may help you to answer some of these questions. In this article I will only focus on the clinical features and diagnosis of depression.

Please know that depression' is not the state of mind, it is a disease. Clinicians, therefore, should to use a tight scale to diagnose it. I am an internist, I would like to share an incidence with you that I came across recently. While rounding on my patients I was asked by my nurse if she could start one of our patients on 'some antidepressant' because she felt that he was suffering from depression. During my interview with the patient I learned that he had lost his wife not more than a month ago. I, however, did not start him on any antidepressant medication because according to my assessment he was only experiencing 'normal grief', which usually subsides within 2 months of a painful life event. The patient was discharged home in few days and returned to my clinic for a follow-up after almost 2 months. He was feeling better, had normal sleep and apatite. The point to be noted here is if I would have started him on 'some antidepressant' in the first place he probably would have carried the label of 'depression' for the rest of his life.

DEFINITION:

Depression is a syndrome, a constellation of signs and symptoms. It may be the consequence of one of several disorders known to cause it, such as idiopathic or 'primary' depressive disorder, 'secondary' depression due to a general medical condition or substance intoxication, bipolar disorder, etc. To qualify for major depression' you MUST at least have five of the following nine symptoms. They should be present most of the day nearly every day for a minimum of two consecutive weeks:

1. Depressed mood
2. Loss of interests or pleasure
3. Change in sleep pattern (both increase and decrease)
4. Change in appetite or weight (both increase and decrease)
5. Change in psychomotor activity (physical gestures)
6. Loss of energy
7. Trouble concentrating
8. Thoughts of worthlessness or guilt
9. Thoughts about death or suicide

CAUSE OF DEPRESSION:

Medical research suggests that depression occurs as a result of an imbalance between various neurochemicals in the brain, especially norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. The function of these neurochemicals is to enable the brain cells to communicate with each other and maintain a happy state of mind. Therefore, depression is an actual biological disorder. This statement is supported by multiple genetic studies and the fact that depression responds not only to drug therapy but also electrical as well as surgical therapies such as Electro Convulsive Therapy, Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, cingulotomy- surgically destroying a small portion of the brain called Cingulate gyrus; all these techniques alter levels of these brain neurochemicals.

RISK FACTORS:

Can you predict if a person is likely going to have an episode of major depression in his lifetime? The answer is yes. - Although anyone can develop depression, certain factors increase a person's chance for developing depression:

Major risk factors:

1. Female sex
2. History of prior episode of major depression
3. History of depression in a first degree relative

Minor risk factors:

1. History of depression in other family members not qualifying as first degree relative
2. Being unmarried or without significant other; basically, lack of social supports
3. Significant stressful episode in life
4. Ongoing alcohol or substance abuse

Useful links:

To learn more about depression and multiple other medical conditions please go to the following website for free on line personalized MD advice:

AskMedPal
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shahbasharat on Jan 14, 2008
 
there are levels of depression. and not every depression is a 'major depression', of course other less severe forms such as dysthymia warrant treatment as well.
ritapro2003 on Jan 14, 2008
+ 1
 
Depression caused by a catastrophic event or by a chemical imbalance, is still depession. The individual is grieving a real or perceived loss and should be treated either way. Antidepressants should be used to assist the individual, along with counceling for a quicker recovery time and a better understanding of the problem. The difference between use and non use of medication is simply a time factor. Feeling down for a few short weeks is far different than a continued downward spiral that lasts for months.
shahbasharat on Jan 10, 2008
 
To learn more about depression and multiple other medical conditions please go to the following website for free on line personalized MD advice: www.askmedpal.com
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