What Does Brain Stimulation Or Neuromodulation Do
In the evolving understanding of depression, the disorder is seen less as a neurochemical deficit, such as lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin or dopamine, than as a problem of wiringa failure of activation of or interaction between key nodes in neural networks, or the very connections themselves, especially when processing emotion-related stimuli, reward stimuli, or executive functioning.
As a result, treatment now increasingly encompasses methods of electrically or magnetically altering nerve activity by selectively stimulating specific components of brain circuitry. Neuroimaging studies have repeatedly demonstrated functional abnormalities in networks linking such key areas of the brain as the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex.
The goal of neuromodulation is to stimulate neuroplasticity, to jump start the growth of new nerve connections to create new neural activity patterns that restore more mental and behavioral flexibility. Studies show that, over time, the devices can significantly improve mood and memory. Copycat devices are now being snapped up by elite athletes and others looking for a performance edge they undergo a bout of stimulation before training.
How Is Depression Treated
Depression treatment typically involves medication, psychotherapy, or both. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, brain stimulation therapy may be another treatment option. In milder cases of depression, treatment might begin with psychotherapy alone, and medication added if the individual continues to experience symptoms. For moderate or severe depression, many mental health professionals recommend a combination of medication and therapy at the start of treatment.
Choosing the right treatment plan should be based on a persons individual needs and medical situation under a providers care. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you. You can learn more about the different types of treatment, including psychotherapy, medication, and brain stimulation therapies on the NIMH’s depression webpage. For information on finding a mental health professional and questions to ask when considering therapy, visit NIMHs psychotherapies webpage.
Meet Yourself Where You Are
Depression is common. It affects millions of people, including some in your life. You may not realize they face similar challenges, emotions, and obstacles.
The key to navigating depression is to be open, accepting, and loving toward yourself and what youre going through.
Every day with this disorder is different. Its important to take your mental health seriously and accept that where you are right now isnt where youll always be.
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What Can I Do If I Have Depression
If you have symptoms of depression, see your healthcare provider. They can give you an accurate diagnosis, refer you to a specialist or suggest treatment options.
If you or someone you know is thinking of hurting themselves or taking their own life:
- Go to the emergency department of your hospital.
- Contact a healthcare provider.
- Speak to a trusted friend, family member or spiritual leader.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Depression is a common condition that affects millions of Americans every year. Anyone can experience depression even if there doesnt seem to be a reason for it. Causes of depression include difficulties in life, brain chemistry abnormalities, some medications and physical conditions. The good news is that depression is treatable. If you have symptoms of depression, talk to your healthcare provider. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can feel better
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/31/2020.
Can Mild Depression Go Away On Its Own
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Are Brain Scans Useful In Determining Treatment
Brain scans have been very helpful in research to identify brain regions that are key to processing emotional stimuli and circuits of neural communication altered in depression. This information has guided the development and use of various kinds of neuromodulation devices as treatment. It has also helped researchers assess the mode of action and effectiveness of drugs in development. It is also used in studies of the effectiveness of psychotherapy, to assess brain function before and after treatment.
But neuroimaging remains primarily a diagnostic and research tool, and a costly one at that. And while it is helping identify nerve circuits involved in distinct clusters of depressive symptoms, such use is very much for research purposes, In general, scanning does not yet provide enough specificity or utility for personalizing therapy.
Put Your Thoughts On The Witness Stand
Once you identify the destructive thoughts patterns that contribute to your depression, you can start to challenge them with questions such as:
- Whats the evidence that this thought is true? Not true?
- What would I tell a friend who had this thought?
- Is there another way of looking at the situation or an alternate explanation?
- How might I look at this situation if I didnt have depression?
As you cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they crumble. In the process, youll develop a more balanced perspective and help to relieve your depression.
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Are There Things I Can Do On My Own To Relieve Depression
Lifestyle changes can be extremely important in achieving depression relief. Chief among healthy habits to foster is addressing disturbed sleep, because sleep is so essential for feeling good and affects every system of body and brain. Establishing a regular sleep routine is considered essential, although sleep disturbance may be among the last symptoms of depression to completely resolve.
Stable sleep patterns by themselves have a positive influence on body metabolism and reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease that is associated with depression. Minimizing exposure to experiences of neglect and abuse is also important. Behavioral activation is a proven source of relief in depression, and while a therapist can help, patients can put it into action on their own.
Depression causes people to shut down they lose interest in doing things, and their world contracts, depriving them of needed sources of stimulation and pleasure. Therefore, doing thingseven when it goes against all instinctsbrings about benefits on many levels. For example, maintaining social contact is a major source of relief it acts physiologically, by tempering stress reactivity, and counters the bleakness of depression by providing a source of pleasure.
When Should I See My Doctor
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, its best to seek help early and your GP is a good place to start. There’s no need to struggle on your own. Seek help:
- if you are feeling sad, teary or overwhelmed most of the time
- if these feelings have been with you for 2 weeks or more
- if your low mood affects how you cope at home, work or school.
Your GP can suggest effective treatment options, and the sooner your symptoms are addressed, the better the outcome will likely be.
Some people with depression feel that life is too difficult, not worth living or even that they themselves are worthless. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, dont wait seek help now.
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Sleeping Patterns And Depression
Depression can disrupt sleep patterns. Its essential to try to restore a regular sleep pattern to make a full recovery. Some tips for restoring a regular sleep pattern include:
- Try to go to sleep and get up at about the same time each day.
- If youre worrying about things during the night, set aside some time for problem solving during the day.
- Avoid drinking caffeine after 4 pm and try not to drink more than two cups of caffeine-type drinks each day.
- Avoid using alcohol to help you sleep. As the alcohol is broken down in your body, it causes you to sleep less deeply and to wake more frequently.
- Allow yourself time to wind down before going to bed. If you are working or studying, stop at least 30 minutes before bedtime and do something relaxing.
- Give your mind a break from online activity such as social media for an hour before bedtime, and consider putting your phone in a separate room from your bedroom at night time.
Can Teen Depression Resolve On Its Own
Our kids go through many phases. As parents, we fret over the biting phase, the no phase, and the eye-rolling phase. They all eventually go away. So should we be concerned when our teen complains of feeling depressed or if her grades drop and she loses interest in her friends? The answer is yes and heres why: depression is not a phase. Its an illness that requires treatment.
My son experienced his first major depression at age ten. Every afternoon that summer, he would tell me he felt empty inside, like he was watching someone elses life, and like there was more good than bad in the world. I struggled to understand what was going on. I even went to the Internet and typed in childhood depression, even though Id never heard of such a thing. Sure enough, it existed, although many of the symptoms listed did not fit my child. I also became confused when I saw him riding his scooter and laughing an hour after one of our talks. That didnt look like depression to me.
I dug through a parents library at the school to see if I could find anything that fit and finally found a book about childhood grief. The symptoms seemed to fit. My sons beloved Labrador had died four months earlier and hed taken it hard. Every day I let my son talk about how he felt and eventually, it went away. Or so I thought.
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Negative Thoughts And Depression
Worrying or thinking negatively is common in people with depression. This affects your ability to focus on getting better and makes you more vulnerable to unhealthy emotions.
Tips to help you control worry and reduce negative thinking include:
- Write down what you are worried about. Go through each concern and think about how realistic your negative thoughts are. Explore alternative thoughts and explanations.
- Try not to focus on the things you cannot change.
- Focus on the present. Accept your thoughts without actively engaging with them.
- Write down your problems and brainstorm solutions. Jot down the pros and cons with each option and choose the one that seems the best. Review whether it worked to overcome the problem.
- Avoid making major decisions about your life at this time.
Does Depression Look The Same In Everyone
Depression can affect people differently, depending on their age.
Children with depression may be anxious, cranky, pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that a parent may die.
Older children and teens with depression may get into trouble at school, sulk, be easily frustrated feel restless, or have low self-esteem. They also may have other disorders, such as anxiety and eating disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or substance use disorder. Older children and teens are more likely to experience excessive sleepiness and increased appetite . In adolescence, females begin to experience depression more often than males, likely due to the biological, life cycle, and hormonal factors unique to women.
Younger adults with depression are more likely to be irritable, complain of weight gain and hypersomnia, and have a negative view of life and the future. They often have other disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, and substance use disorders.
Middle-aged adults with depression may have more depressive episodes, decreased libido, middle-of-the-night insomnia, or early morning awakening. They also may more frequently report having gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation.
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Do The Opposite Of What The Depression Voice Suggests
If you believe an event wont be fun or worth your time, say to yourself, You might be right, but itll be better than just sitting here another night. You may soon see the automatic thought isnt always helpful.
What Is A Depressive Episode
A depressive episode occurs when someone experiences five or more depressive symptoms that last for a period of two weeks or longer. Depression symptoms that can be considered part of a depressive episode include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicide ideation or attempt
A depressive episode can be brought on by a variety of different reasons, including major life events or medical illnesses. A person will not meet the criteria for a depressive episode if symptoms are caused by substance abuse or a reaction to a prescribed medication.
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If You Are Suffering From Depressive Episodes You May Experience Symptoms Such As:
- Excessive sleepiness or insomnia
- Lack of hope for the future
- Excessive guilt
- Extreme weight loss/ weight gain
Those who suffer from depression may even experience physical symptoms, reporting aches and pains. A person in a depressive episode may have angry outbursts. They are also at a higher risk of using recreational drugs.
It is important to seek professional medical advice if you are experiencing these symptoms, and not leave them untreated. For a medical diagnosis, the symptoms of depression must be present for at least two weeks. It is much more than just one episode.
Depression is treatable, and help is available. If you or someone you love is suffering from severe depression symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts, The National Institute of Mental Health has immediate help here.
Does Depression Cause Hair Loss
Theres minimal research on whether depression causes hair loss. But a 2012 study conducted among adult female outpatients at a public dermatology clinic indicates that hair loss complaints are commonly associated with symptoms of depression.
Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist with a private practice in New York City and spokesperson for Nioxin, says that hair loss isnt a symptom of depression itself, but rather a secondary symptom associated with depression triggers or treatments.
She notes that there seems to be a greater link between depression and hair loss among folks who are concurrently experiencing high stress levels.
On the other hand, balding can also lead to depressive symptoms.
While an initial stressor might originally lead to depression and subsequent hair loss, the hair loss itself can cause significant stress on its own, and may lead to a perpetual negative cycle between stress, depression, and hair loss, she says.
Hair restoration specialist Jae Pak, MD, adds that hair loss can lead to feelings of sadness and a loss of confidence as well, which can exacerbate depressive symptoms.
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How Is Depression Diagnosed
To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have five depression symptoms every day, nearly all day, for at least 2 weeks. One of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Children and adolescents may be irritable rather than sad.
If you think you may have depression, talk to your health care provider. Primary care providers routinely diagnose and treat depression and refer individuals to mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists.
During the visit, your provider may ask when your symptoms began, how long they last, how often they occur, and if they keep you from going out or doing your usual activities. It may help to make some notes about your symptoms before your visit. Certain medications and some medical conditions, such as viruses or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same depression symptoms. Your provider can rule out these possibilities by doing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests.
Read NIMHs Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website.
Do Psychedelics Help Depression
Given the large percentage of people for whom standard antidepressants do not workmore than 50 percent, in some studiesthere is renewed scientific interest in psychedelic agents as treatments for depression, especially depression accompanied by suicide ideation. Ongoing clinical trials show that in carefully monitored settings, the substances, which broaden and deepen consciousness, can dramatically boost the effectiveness of psychotherapy for major depression, facilitating self-awareness and speeding behavior change. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy actually seems to motivate people to change, and brain imaging studies of treated patients show durable changes in brain connectivity patterns.
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Depression Typically Lasts For Several Months But It Can Also Develop Into A Chronic Condition That Lasts For Years In Some Cases Fortunately Treatment Can Help
Depression is a serious mood disorder characterized by a low mood . Those affected by depression may wonder, how long depression lasts. Every case is different, but on average, a depressive episode can last several months. For some people, an episode may be shorter or much longer. If left untreated, depression can become long-lasting or chronic. It is important for individuals with depression to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Why Is Untreated Depression Considered To Be A Disability
Depression can render people disabled in their work life, family life, and social life. Left untreated, clinical depression is as costly as heart disease or AIDS to the U.S. economy. Untreated depression is responsible for more than 200 million days lost from work each year. The annual cost of untreated depression is more than $43.7 billion in absenteeism from work, lost productivity, and direct treatment costs.
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