Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a severe medical illness that negatively affects one’s mental and emotional health. This mental condition is usually characterized by feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in activities you enjoy due to several factors. Read on to learn more about this disease.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a common yet serious medical condition that affects your mood and general outlook on life. So naturally, people experience moments of sadness and may not be in a good place emotionally. What makes depression different is that this state of despair persists for a more extended period making it worrying. However, fortunately, patients can manage depression by seeking and following the proper treatment.
The Signs And Symptoms Of Depression
Unlike many other medical conditions, depression is relatively more complex. It can occur at any time, and symptoms experienced by one person may differ from the next. Depression does not only affect your thoughts and emotional wellbeing; it also affects what you say, how you react in certain situations, and your relationship with others. Although the signs and symptoms vary in its severity, there are some common symptoms. These include the following:
- Difficulty in concentrating and making decisions
- Trouble sleeping or too much sleep
- Low energy or constant fatigue
- Noticeable slowness when talking and moving
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
- Weight loss or gain
- Negative inward feelings
Causes Of Depression
Another aspect that adds to the complexity of depression is its causes. Several factors are said to cause depression. However, researchers have identified four major causes of depression. These include faulty mood regulations by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, and medical conditions or problems. The following section discusses each cause in detail.
1. Faulty Mood Regulation By The Brain
Contrary to what you may believe, your emotions are controlled by your brain, not your heart. Through advanced brain imaging such as positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed technology (SPECT), scientists have compared the brains of people who were clinically diagnosed with depression and those who were not.
Through their research, scientists have noticed that nerve cell connection, nerve cell growth, and the functioning of nerve circuits significantly affect depression. They have also realized that neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine, which are responsible for creating feelings of happiness and pleasure, may be out of balance for people with depression.
Instead, it has been found that in some cases, patients with depression experience excess amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone. They believe that this excess cortisol affects the development of three significant parts of the brain, namely the amygdala (involving emotions), thalamus (affecting cognitive functions), and hippocampus (affecting memory and recollection). However, studies are still being conducted to explain better why and how these neurological malfunctions create depression.
2. Genetic Vulnerability
Depression can run through the family, meaning that parents, siblings, or children of people with severe depression are more likely to be affected by it. This is because genes contribute to producing the proteins needed in biological processes. Since different genes can turn on and off, they can make the right proteins at the right time. If not, they can alter the process and create an unstable mood. In a person who is genetically vulnerable to depression, this may trigger the condition. The exact genes which cause “inherited depression” are not known. However, scientists believe that the unique interaction among multiple genes may cause families vulnerable to depression to experience a different type of depression.
3. Stressful Life Events
Unfortunately, it can be pretty challenging to avoid a stressful life event. For example, the loss of a loved one, a significant life change, trauma, the loss of a job, or a chronic illness can be stressful and upsetting. Although not everyone who may experience these events may develop a depressive mood disorder, in many cases, the stress experienced in these instances usually causes people to experience depression.
This is evident in a person who is genetically vulnerable to depression. Stress is an automatic response to situations that require adjusting to change you are not prepared for. This brings about several physiological consequences, which cause a chain of chemical reactions in the body. Where the stress is short-lived, the body returns to normal. However, long-term stress creates long-term changes to the body and brain that could cause depression.
4. Medical Problems
Dealing with a chronic illness can be challenging to take not only on your physical health but also on your mental well-being. For example, cardiovascular disease sufferers usually complain about feeling sad. On the other hand, some medical issues can cause hormonal imbalances that may lead to depression. An example is thyroid hormonal problems. Hyperthyroidism causes manic symptoms, while hypothyroidism causes the body to produce minor amounts of thyroid hormones, causing depression.
Treatments Of Depression
Despite its technicalities, depression is treatable. It is advisable to encourage positive energy from friends and family, exercise often, and avoid substance abuse. Where needed, do not be afraid to reach out for professional help.
Usually, through prescribed medication, psychotherapy, or both, patients diagnosed with depression can live healthier lives. Experts such as the Calgary Institute of Counselling staff are prepared to help you navigate this medical condition. Your appointed Calgary Psychologist will ask about your goals for the session to ensure that counselling can be specifically tailored to meet your specific needs.
The Psychologist will then provide their approach to therapy and how their treatment model can benefit you with your current struggles. The sessions encourage honesty and confidentiality to ensure that you feel safe and confident to get the help you need to achieve your objectives in confidence and without fear of being shamed or stigmatized.
Be sure to contact the Calgary Institute of Counselling today for more information on how you can book a life-changing appointment. Call us on (587) 350-8843 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our services.