Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Depression And How It Works

Does Depression Change Your Personality

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Research has turned up mixed results about whether or not depression can actually change a persons personality.

However, according to of 10 studies, depressive symptoms may be associated with changes in several specific aspects of personality including extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness which could be temporary or persistent.

Are The Changes Permanent

Scientists are still trying to answer that question. Ongoing depression likely causes long-term changes to the brain, especially in the hippocampus. That might be why depression is so hard to treat in some people. But researchers also found less gray matter volume in people who were diagnosed with lifelong major depressive disorder but hadnât had depression in years.

While more research is needed, thereâs hope that current or new treatments might help reverse or ward off some brain changes.

Hereâs what research says about two common depression treatments:

Antidepressants. These work on the chemicals in your brain that control stress and emotions. Thereâs evidence these drugs can help your brain form new connections and lower inflammation.

Cognitive behavior therapy . Experts think CBT promotes neuroplasticity. That means you can change your brain in a way that helps your depression.

Talk About Your Thoughts And Feelings

Its a good idea to talk to someone that you trust about your thoughts and feelings. Talking to others can help you feel understood and can also help you see things from a different point of view. You might:

  • talk to your family or friends, a teacher or coach, your mob or Elders
  • get support from online communities or resources, or express thoughts to yourself in a personal journal
  • connect with others and be part of a group, like a sporting club or religious group, to manage feelings of loneliness.

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What Is Treatment Resistant Depression And Is There Any Help For It

If youve tried at least two different antidepressants and your depression hasnt improved, you may be diagnosed with treatment resistant depression . TRD is a serious condition that has been highly associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Nearly 33 percent of people with TRD attempt suicide in their lifetime, more than double the rate of their treatment-responsive peers, according to a recent report in Psychiatry Advisor. It is not, however, a hopeless condition. A number of alternative treatment approaches are available, including:

Community Mental Health Services

Canadians struggling with work

Some people with Depression nd it helpful to meet with others who have the same diagnosis, and had similar experiences at support groups in their local area or online.As well as overcoming isolation, this can be a useful way of sharing information about things that help, and getting together to advocate for improved services.

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Misconceptions About Antidepressant Medication

There are a number of misconceptions about antidepressant medication, which can unfortunately discourage some people from getting help in this way.For example, some believe that antidepressants are addictive, that they are dangerous, or that they put you into an unreal dreamy state.The fact is that medications in the new generation of antidepressants are not addictive, are generally safer than older antidepressants, and are certainly not the happy drugs often portrayed in the media they simply help restore your mood back to normal.

Will Cbt Help My Depression

CBT has been found to be effective in treating those with mild to moderate depression. It has also been proven effective when combined with other treatment options, like antidepressants or other medications.

Remember that change is often gradual, requiring a time commitment and the willingness to be open to the experience.

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How Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Diagnosed

If you have symptoms of seasonal affective disorder , dont try to diagnose yourself. See your healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation. You may have another reason for your depression. Many times, seasonal affective disorder is part of a more complex mental health issue.

Your provider may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These mental health professionals will ask you about your symptoms. Theyll consider your pattern of symptoms and decide if you have seasonal depression or another mood disorder. You may need to fill out a questionnaire to determine if you have SAD.

How Is Depression Diagnosed

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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.

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Lifestyle Changes To Treat Depression

Exercise.Regular exercise can be as effective at treating depression as medication. Not only does exercise boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals, it triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections, just like antidepressants do. Best of all, you dont have to train for a marathon in order to reap the benefits. Even a half-hour daily walk can make a big difference. For maximum results, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity on most days.

Social support. Strong social networks reduce isolation, a key risk factor for depression. Keep in regular contact with friends and family, or consider joining a class or group. Volunteering is a wonderful way to get social support and help others while also helping yourself.

Nutrition. Eating well is important for both your physical and mental health. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. While you may be drawn to sugary foods for the quick boost they provide, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. Theyll get you going without the all-too-soon sugar crash.

Sleep. Sleep has a strong effect on mood. When you dont get enough sleep, your depression symptoms will be worse. Sleep deprivation exacerbates irritability, moodiness, sadness, and fatigue. Make sure youre getting enough sleep each night. Very few people do well on less than seven hours a night. Aim for somewhere between seven to nine hours each night.

Learn To Recognize The Signs Of Anxiety

Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health condition in the United States, affecting up to 18% of the population. Knowing the signs of anxiety can help you realize when someone you love is having fearful thoughts or feelings. Symptoms vary from person to person but can be broken into three categories:

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Beyond Treatment: Things You Can Do

Once you begin treatment, you should gradually start to feel better. Here are other tips that may help you or a loved one during treatment for depression:

  • Try to get some physical activity. Just 30 minutes a day of walking can boost mood.
  • Try to maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
  • Eat regular, healthy meals.
  • Do what you can as you can. Decide what must get done and what can wait.
  • Try to connect with other people, and talk with people you trust about how you are feeling.
  • Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced, or changing jobs until you feel better.
  • Avoid using alcohol, nicotine, or drugs, including medications not prescribed for you.

Support For Children Who Have A Parent With Depression

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Having a parent with Depression can be confusing and even distressing for children. Emotional contact is especially important for the young, and Depression often affects how well we are able to relate and communicate our feelings to other people.Children may need reassuring, therefore, that the parent with Depression has not changed how they feel towards them. If at all possible, the illness should be explained to the child by both parents, using words and concepts that they will nd familiar and understand.

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Aim To Get A Good Nights Sleep

Not enough sleep can worsen symptoms of both anxiety and depression but too much sleep can also affect well-being and mood.

Experts recommend most adults get

These tips can help you get the sleep you need:

  • Make a habit of going to bed and getting up around the same time each day.
  • Turn off electronic devices about 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Create a soothing ritual that helps you wind down before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.

Practice At The Same Time Every Day

Making meditation a habit can help your success.

Its OK to start small. Even 5 minutes a day can help. Try commit to 5 minutes every day at a time that works well for you.

Maybe you do a body scan in the shower every morning or do a sitting meditation right before bed. Maybe its the last thing you do before getting into bed each night. You might have to try a few scenarios before you find the most effective approach to meditation, but thats OK.

Once you find the right approach, youre more likely to stick with it.

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Should You Worry About Antidepressant Withdrawal

No, but its easy to see why some people might think so, because of a medical condition called antidepressant discontinuation syndrome , which can occur if you abruptly stop taking medication rather than tapering off as is generally advised. ADS is marked by a wide range of responses, including but not limited to flu-like symptoms, insomnia, worsening mood, and stomach distress, according to a March 11, 2019, report in Psychiatric Times.

Current estimates are that about 20 percent of patients whove taken an antidepressant for at least a month will experience ADS symptoms if they abruptly stop their medication instead of lowering their dose gradually. Tapering under the care of a doctor can prevent ADS by allowing the brain to adjust to changes in neurotransmitter levels.

More to the point, while you should slowly stop your antidepressant with the help of your doctor, antidepressants do not cause dependence and withdrawal like other substances. Unlike substances that are known to cause addiction, such as alcohol, opioids, and barbiturates, people don’t crave antidepressants. You dont get high from them, and they arent intentionally or compulsively overused. Serious reactions like the seizures and agitation that can follow sudden withdrawal from addictive substances are unheard of when these antidepressants are tapered gradually, note the authors of the Psychiatric Times report.

Causes Of Low Neurotransmitter Levels

How do antidepressants work? – Neil R. Jeyasingam

If low levels of neurotransmitters can contribute to depression, an important question is what causes the low levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine in the first place? When there is a breakdown anywhere in the process, low levels of neurotransmitters can result.

Research has indicated several potential causes of chemical imbalances in the brain, including:

  • Molecules that help make neurotransmitters are in short supply
  • Not enough receptor sites to receive the neurotransmitter
  • Presynaptic cells are taking the neurotransmitter back up before it has a chance to reach the receptor cell
  • Too few of the molecules that build neurotransmitters
  • Too little of a specific neurotransmitter is being produced

Several emerging theories are concerned with the factors that promote lowered levels, such as cellular stress. But one of the main challenges for researchers and doctors hoping to connect depression to low levels of specific brain chemicals is that they don’t have a way to consistently and accurately measure them.

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Depression: Finding What Works For You

For many people, treating depression isn’t as simple as popping a pill. For about half of people with depression, the first medication they try isn’t the right fit. Even an antidepressant that works to relieve symptoms could cause unpleasant side effects like drowsiness, nausea, weight gain, or problems with your sex drive.

You might need to change drugs or change doses — maybe more than once. Your doctor could have you try a combination of medications. If you’re not already doing talk therapy, they may suggest you add it to the mix. Therapy and antidepressants work about equally well to relieve depression symptoms.

Your doctor needs to monitor this process closely. It takes time and patience. And patience isn’t easy when you’re still having depression symptoms or dealing with medication side effects. But it pays off when you and your doctor zero in on the treatment that’s right for you.

Tms Therapy For Depression

If youre suffering from major depression that has been resistant to therapy, medication, and self-help, then TMS therapy may be an option. Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is a noninvasive treatment that directs recurring magnetic energy pulses at the regions of the brain that are involved in mood. These magnetic pulses pass painlessly through the skull and stimulate brain cells which can improve communication between different parts of the brain and ease depression symptoms.

While TMS may be able to improve treatment-resistant depression, that doesnt mean its a cure for depression or that your symptoms wont return. However, it could provide sufficient improvements in your energy and drive to enable you to begin talk therapy or make the lifestyle changessuch as improving your diet, exercising, and building your support networkthat can help preserve your depression recovery in the long term.

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Risks And Side Effects Of Ect

The most common side effect of ECT is short-term memory loss. However, some people report that they have long-term memory loss, as well. ECT also causes a brief rise in heart rate and blood pressure during the procedure, so it may not be recommended in people with unstable heart problems. A physical examination and basic laboratory tests including an electrocardiogram are necessary before starting ECT to assure that no medical problems are present that could interfere with the safe administration of ECT.

ECT can often work quickly, but 50% or more of the people who receive this treatment will relapse within several months if there is no subsequent treatment to prevent relapse. Your doctor will typically advise a medication regimen including antidepressants, or possibly additional periodic ECT sessions to help prevent relapse.

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What Risks And Complications Can Depression Cause

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Having depression can cause other problems. It can affect your mental health as well as your physical health, and it may affect other areas of your life too. For example, depression may cause:

  • disturbed sleep,
  • difficulties with work and your hobbies,
  • difficulties keeping contact with friends and families, or
  • suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harming.

Some people might also drink more alcohol to try and relieve depression. However, as we said in the previous section above, this can actually make depression worse.

If you have any of these problems, speak to your GP.

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Brain Chemicals And Depression

Researchers have suggested that for some people, having too little of certain substances in the brain could contribute to depression. Restoring the balance of brain chemicals could help alleviate symptomswhich is where the different classes of antidepressant medications may come in.

Even with the help of medications that balance specific neurotransmitters in the brain, depression is a highly complex condition to treat. What proves to be an effective treatment for one person with depression may not work for someone else. Even something that has worked well for someone in the past may become less effective over time, or even stop working, for reasons researchers are still trying to understand.

Researchers continue to try to understand the mechanisms of depression, including brain chemicals, in hopes of finding explanations for these complexities and developing more effective treatments. Depression is a multi-faceted condition, but having an awareness of brain chemistry can be useful for medical and mental health professionals, researchers, and many people who have depression.

Depression Discussion Guide

Signs And Symptoms: How To Identify Depression

If sadness alone isnt a good gauge of depression, what is? According to the American Psychiatric Associations current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , which is the diagnostic guide used by most mental health professionals, if youve experienced at least five of the following symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be diagnosed with major depressive disorder , also known as clinical depression.

Do you:

  • Constantly feel tearful, empty, or worthless?
  • Have little interest or pleasure in your work, hobbies, friends, family, and other things you once enjoyed?
  • Notice dramatic changes up or down in your appetite or your weight not related to dieting?
  • Often feel listless or fatigued for no obvious reason?
  • Have trouble concentrating or making decisions?
  • Find yourself wringing your hands, pacing, or showing other signs of anxious restlessness or the opposite, moving or speaking more slowly than usual?
  • Struggle with insomnia or sleep too much?
  • Have recurrent thoughts of suicide or death?

To be diagnosed with MDD, one of your symptoms must be a persistent low mood or a loss of interest or pleasure, the DSM-5 states. Your symptoms must also not be due to substance abuse or a medical condition, such as thyroid problems, a brain tumor, or a nutritional deficiency.

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