Depression 5 Essay, Research Paper
According to the American Psychological Association over 17 million Americans have depression (Par. 1). Depression is triggered by many things; whatever the trigger, it is much more than a simple case of the blues. Depression is a serious illness that can take a terrible toll on victims and families if left untreated. With proper treatment the disease can be minimized or even eliminated.
Everyone feels sad or blue sometimes. But when an upsetting event occurs, Feelings of sorrow usually subside as time goes on. But someone who is depressed feels extreme sadness, dejection, and despair to the point where it affects that person s daily life and activities. Depressed individuals tend to feel helpless and hopeless, and blame themselves for these feelings. In some cases thoughts of death and suicide may come into play, depending on the seriousness of the depression. People who are depressed may find it difficult and become overwhelmed by simple daily tasks, which is why sometimes they withdraw from daily activities altogether. They may even withdraw from families and friends.
Rod Steiger an Academy Award-winning actor who had starring roles in over 72 films is clinically depressed. During a time when Rod was down he wrote a letter to his wife and son:
I want to die; I don t want to move. I have no feeling for movement. To be left alone, to disappear. Not to be bothered with washing, shaving, talking, walking, going to the bathroom. If only to get out of this tunnel and heavy darkness, cold and oily, constantly pressing against my brain and being (Carter, 39)
What would cause highly successful people like Rod Steiger, Kathy Cronkite, Patty Duke, even television reporter Mike Wallace and British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill to develop depression? Eric Hoffer described depression best when he said, The world leans on us. When we sag, the whole world seems to drop. The exact causes of this illness have not yet been established, even though scientist theorize that depression can be the result of several interrelated factors.
Depressive and manic depressive illness are the two main types of depressive disorders (also can be referred to as affective disorders or mood disorders, because they mainly affect the mood). Other known types of depression include Dysthymia, a type of chronic moderate depression and Cyclothymia, a form of manic depression that isn t as severe.
In major depression, a depressed mood prevails, even though the patient might not be aware of feeling sad. But depression doesn t only affect your mood; it affects your thoughts, body, and behavior as well. Someone who is depressed may feel, melancholy, sad, and miserable most of the time, along with the loss of pleasure and interest in life. This can result in decreased energy, fatigue, fits of weeping or constantly feeling like crying, and an unusually high degree of irritability. Depressed individuals may experience particularly negative thoughts, hopeless thoughts about the present and future, along with anxiety, and to be afraid of out of proportion to actual events. According to the APA (American Psychological Association) 60 percent of depressed individual feel what was just described above. A person may have difficulty concentrating and making decisions; experiencing feelings of guilt, self-loathing, or worthlessness and be preoccupied with death and suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Depression is also a physical illness. People who are affected may experience a drastic change in their eating habits. Some have a loss of appetite while other may experience an increase of appetite. Sleep patterns also can be radically altered. Some may find themselves sleeping a great deal less, while others sleep many more hours than usual. In his Book The Good News About Depression, Dr. Mark S. Gold States; Depressed people also get less overall deep sleep, which is the most restorative and refreshing of all (NDMDA Par. 9). This is probably why a depressed individual who sleeps a lot still feels exhausted when they wake up.
The Depressed person may experience a loss of appetite, which may cause them to lose weight. Sudden overeating is also common. The victim may undergo a loss of interest in sex, suffer from headaches or stomachaches, and may even suffer from vague, unexplained physical pain that travels throughout the body.
A victim of depression will feel lethargic, and have difficulty getting work done. Difficulty reading or studying are also symptoms. What’s more, it may take a greater amount of effort to complete simple everyday tasks like, washing, eating and dressing themselves. Someone who is depressed can act restless, agitated, or jittery or experience slowed movement, thoughts, and speech. Victims may have a stooped and hobbling way of walking or all of a sudden become especially dependent.
Not everyone who is depressed will experience all of these symptoms. Some experience many, while others only a few. The severity of symptoms varies also. It is important to pay attention to changes in behavior because people with depression may lack the energy to reach out for help, or they may feel so hopeless that they believe any attempt to try to alleviate their suffering will be useless.
Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by periods of mania and depression. Because the condition involves extremes of emotions, or poles, it s called Bipolar or manic-depressive Disorder. Unlike Depression, which can strike at any time in a person s life, manic depression usually begins in adolescence and early adulthood. At least 1 percent of the population (2.2 million people) suffers from a severe form of bipolar disorder each year, and both men and women are afflicted equally (Mayo Par. 3).
According to the APA (American Psychiatric Association) during a manic episode someone with bipolar illness may:
· Talk to fast, too loud, and without stopping, racing from once idea to the next in rapid succession, but not necessarily logically. This flight of ideas can deteriorate into nonsensical communication, thoughts others are unable to follow.
· Be in an exceedingly good mood. In fact, nothing can change this euphoria, not even a tragedy. However, sometimes the mood can turn quickly to irritability, anger, and paranoia
· Move to fast, make too many plans, and behave hyperactively
· Stop sleeping for days without feeling tired and stop eating
· Acts self-confident and express optimism even when the situation doesn t warrant it affected individuals may experience delusions of grandeur such as connections with a political figure or G-d, or may believe the laws of nature do not apply to them.
· Begin many projects at once without the wherewithal to complete them. They may become highly distracted by insignificant details.
· Buy impulsively and excessively, use poor judgement such as driving recklessly or making unwise and hasty business investments.
· Engage in promiscuous or unusual sexual behavior.
· Become impatient, irritable, agitated, volatile, violent and even psychotic when thwarted. (Par 4)
These Manic episodes are nearly always followed by a deep depression. In some cases they follow immediately, in others it can take a few months for it to begin. There can be a long period of being normal. Severely affected people may have what is called rapid cycling . Rapid cycling is when the manic and depressive phase occurs continuously. The depressive phase has the same symptoms as major depression. Some victims experience more of the depressive phase, and can rarely go through the manic phase. Suicide can be the result to this illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with untreated manic-depressive illness face up to a 20 percent increase for suicide (Carter 47).
Genetic, biochemical, and environmental factors can each play some kind of role in the progression of a depressive illness. Both depressive and bipolar disorders run in families. It is almost certain an occurrence to these disorders is genetically transmitted. So, the risk of a depressive disorder is larger with in families of depressive patients than in the overall population. If someone in your family has had a depressive illness it doesn t necessarily mean you will get it also, but it does increase your chances of experiencing the illness of a biological nature. This is frequently called clinical depression to tell apart from short-term states of depressed moods. Even if you don t have a genetic tendency, your body chemistry can trigger the beginning of a depressive disorder, due to the presence of another illness, a change in eating habits, substance abuse, or hormonal variation ( NDMDA Par. 9).
People with low self-esteem, who always view themselves and the rest of the world with pessimism, are prone to depression. Also, those who are overwhelmed by stress can get hold of depression. In many cases it is the genetic vulnerability along with life experiences that triggers depression (Carter 144)
Stress usually in the form of a personal loss, can bring on a first episode of depression in someone who is genetically at risk. A loss can be, being laid off of work, a divorce, a retirement, natural disasters, legal problems, and the death of a loved one. If stressful events continuously occur it can cause depressive episodes to take place more. Rosalynn Carter, a pioneer in the mental illness field, explains how stress can trigger depression: Upsetting situations arouse a part of the brain called the amygdala, a small almond-shaped region that recognizes and regulates emotions, especially fear and anger, and another region at the very base of the brain called the hypothalamus. If these brain regions overreact to stress, perhaps because of a genetic vulnerability, they may produce a chemical chain reaction that leads to depression.
According to the encyclopedia Encarta, the higher proportion of depression in women may be biologically brought on, or it may be that women learn social roles that include feelings of helplessness. Subsequently, because women in trouble are more likely to seek help than men, there may be an underdiagnosis for men (Par. 6).
Researchers believe that decreased amount of serotonin and other neurotransmitters are involved in depression, causing irritability, anxiety, sleep problems and downhearted mood that characterizes the sickness. Decreased seratonin activity may be linked to suicidal behavior, according to psychiatrist Jonathon Mann at Columbia University. Autopsies of suicide victims have revealed lesser amounts of seratonin in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal chord (Carter 146)
Whatever the cause, depressive or manic depressive illness point to an imbalance in the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The part of the brain that regulates the mood is not working properly. Research shows that only one third of those with major depression will get proper treatment, and two thirds of those with affective disorder who do get treatment will be misdiagnosed. These statistics show the subtleties of the illness and the importance of public and physician education. A delay in the diagnosis of someone could be fatal; people with severe, untreated depression have a suicide rate as high as 15 percent. Also, the Number one Cause of suicide in the U.S is untreated depression. One shouldn t be devastated by the statistics because depressive illnesses are the most responsive to treatment. If given proper care, 80 percent of patients with major depression have a significant improvement and lead productive lives.
Even today in the 90 s there is still some stigma or reluctance when it comes to seeking professional help. Feelings of Depression are often viewed as a sign of weakness and incompetence. The bottom line is those who suffer from depression are not going to snap out of it and feel better all of a sudden. Those with Depression who don t seek Treatment suffer needlessly. Unexpressed feeling and concern can worsen the situation. The importance of obtaining quality professional help can not be overstressed.
There are several approaches to psychotherapy, including cognitive, behavioral. Interpersonal, psychodynamic, and other kinds of talk therapy that help victims get better. Psychotherapy offers people the opportunity to identify the factors that contribute to their depression and to deal affectivity with the causes. According to the APA Skilled therapists can work with victims to: Pinpoint the life problems that play a role in ones depression, and help them understand which aspects of those problems they may be able to solve and improve. A trained therapist can help depressed patients identify the options for the future, and teach them ways to enhance their emotional well being. Victims are also taught how to recognize and change distorted thinking patterns. A competent therapist can also help to develop a positive outlook on life. Therapist can help victims improve patterns of interacting with other people, which contribute to their depression. And most importantly, therapy can help the individual regain a sense of control and pleasure in their life. Psychotherapy helps people see choices as well as gradually bring back enjoyable activities in their lives (Par. 12).
The support and involvement of family and friends can play a crucial role in helping someone who is depressed, Individuals willing to help a loved one, can help by encouraging a depressed loved one to stick with treatment and to practice the coping techniques and problem-solving skills he or she is learning in their therapy.
Living with a depressed depressed person can be very difficult and stressful on family members and friends. The pain of watching someone you love suffer can bring about your own feelings of helplessness and loss. This is why education of family and friends is extremely important so you know what one is going through. In Leonard Cammer s book Up from Depression, he explains the concept of empathy. Empathy for depression must be taught and learned. A person has to feel and understand what the other person is experiencing. If Someone you love removes himself or herself from your life, you must not throw your hands up If you give up what is keeping your loved one from doing the same. According to Rosalynn Carter, the best kind of treatment is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. The medication makes you more open to the psychotherapy because it puts you in the right frame of mind (148).
There are several different classes of antidepressant medications that are most often used to treat depression. Each of these medications acts to keep brain chemicals in balance. The newer class called Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI s), which includes Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil, which has been hailed as a breakthrough in the treatment of depression. They cause fewer side effects than the older anti-depressants. Also, since they seem to interact less with other drugs, they can be prescribed to the elderly. Nevertheless, side effects do still occur. Insomnia, drowsiness, headache, nausea, constipation or decreased sexual desires are they.
Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors require following a special diet because they interact with tryamine, which is found in cheeses, beer, wine, chicken livers, and other foods, and cause the elevation of blood pressure.
The tricyclic antidepressants require no special diet. Drugs such as amitriptyline, desipramine, doxepin, and imipramine are in this class. Lithium carbonate, a common mineral, is used to control the manic phase of a manic depressive illness. In smaller doses it is also used to regulate mood fluctuations of this bipolar disorder.
Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT is considered most effective for people suffering from depression who are not responding to drug therapy.As depressed individuals begin to feel better, they may think they no longer need their medication. This is a mistake. It is very important to take the antidepressant regularly, not just when feeling depressed. The anti-depressant s effectiveness depends on its regular
use and consistent levels of the medication in the blood.
Most Antidepressants take ten days to one month to achieve maximum benefits, often resulting in the need to assure patients so they wont become discouraged. If the patient does get discouraged, he or she discontinues the medicine before it begins to work.
Depression can seriously impair person s ability to function in everyday situations. The prospects for recovery for depressed individuals who seek appropriate care are very good. This is why education about the disease is important. Everyone should learn and become aware of symptoms and characteristics if in any event they or someone they love is suffering.