Depression is an illness that is a collection of symptoms ranging from sadness, lethargy and hopelessness. Depression is more than just the ‘blues’ but an illness that effects the whole body, emotionally one feels isolated, psychologically you feel fragile and physically weakened. You just can’t ‘snap out of it’ as friends tell you or try to ignore it as you have tried.
Research has shown that depression is an illness influenced by both biological and environmental factors. Personal genetics and family histories of this illness play a role in the development of depressive episodes. Situational factors, if nothing else, can exacerbate a depressive disorder in significant ways. Examples of these factors would include lack of a support system, stress, illness in self or loved one, legal difficulties, financial struggles, and job problems. These factors can be cyclical in that they can worsen the symptoms and act as symptoms themselves.
Symptoms of depression include the following:
- depressed mood (such as feelings of sadness or emptiness)
- reduced interest in activities that used to be enjoyed, sleep disturbances (either not being able to sleep well or sleeping to much)
- loss of energy or a significant reduction in energy level
- difficulty concentrating, holding a conversation, paying attention, or making decisions that used to be made fairly easily
- suicidal thoughts or intentions.
Treatment can either combine both pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy or utilize one or the other individually. Medications used to treat this disorder include Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin, Zoloft and others. Psychotherapy is useful in helping the patient understand the factors involved in either creating or exacerbating the symptoms of depression. Personal factors may include a history of abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual), maladaptive coping skills/ Environmental factors involved in this disorder include, among others, a poor social support system and difficulties related to finances or employment.
Adapted from allpsych.com