Everyone feels sad or down from time to time, but depression is an entirely different ballgame. Depression, also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, can be dark and lonesome for people who experience the disorder. It can feel like endless sadness, discontentedness, and hopelessness. Like a slug, hauling its sticky and slow body from point A to point B, going through the motions of life. There are even different kinds of depression, characterized by the length of persistence and pattern of occurrence. Typically, treating this condition involves medication, psychotherapy, and sometimes both.
What Causes Depression?
The causes of depression are still being researched, but the standard theory you may have heard is that a chemical imbalance causes it. Yet, this is not entirely true. Depression is not just having too much dopamine and too little serotonin; it is more complicated than that. In the brain exists different cells that require particular chemicals at varying times and in varying amounts. These cells interact throughout the body in complex ways. Researchers hypothesize that nerve cell connections, nerve cell growth, and the functioning of nerve circuits are significantly involved.
One study found evidence that suggests that this condition is a neural circuit disorder that involves various transmitter systems and molecular mechanisms. Internal conditions like genetic vulnerability and faulty mood regulation in the brain and external conditions like stressful life events, medications, and medical problems could all interact to facilitate depression. Some evidence suggests it has a hereditary component too. If your parents or some family members had depression, there is a chance you could too. Thus, the complicated nature of depression can make it inherently challenging to treat, necessitating care to be patient-specific.
Medication for Depression
If you’ve been to the doctor regarding depression, you may not have had an experience that led you to think of depression in such a layered way. Perhaps you were prescribed an anti-depressant like Paxil and Prozac and were suggested to exercise regularly. These common prescriptions fall into a class called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They prevent serotonin from being reabsorbed by nerve cells in the brain so that they can continue to send signals via neurotransmitters which are thought to boost mood.
Other antidepressant classes are tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Research shows that these drugs can be very effective for chronic, moderate, and severe depression; however, they don’t appear to help with mild depression. Nevertheless, antidepressants don’t come without risk. They can cause short-term side effects like headache, nausea, sleep problems, restlessness, and sexual problems. For some people, antidepressants wear off over time and stop working, requiring a higher dosage or a different drug.
Using Psychotherapy to Better Understand
In addition to medical interventions, psychotherapy can be a critical part of the recovery process for individuals. Talking to a licensed clinician can help a person identify underlying trauma and triggers, resulting in greater self-awareness and a better understanding of their condition. Psychotherapy can also help a person pinpoint gaps in critical social connections with friends and family that may be contributing to depression.
Evidence suggests that social relationships do play a role in depression. In one study, it was found that persons with depressive symptoms may be more sensitive to social rejection experiences and social acceptance. The researchers found that when people with severe depression symptoms had positive social experiences, they perceived their lives as more satisfying and meaningful. They suggest behavioral activation interventions that encourage patients to engage in activities that have the potential for positive psychological, social, and physical benefits.
Approaching Depression Amid COVID-19
At this point, you might not need any more convincing about the importance of social connections to mental health given our current global situation. As a result of lockdowns, fear, and illness, the pandemic has caused many to feel social disconnection and isolation. Many are eager to get back to work and school because they miss socializing with other human beings; after all, we are social creatures! It is critical to be empathetic and patient if you know someone with depression; they might need you more than they know. Supporting them in their most significant time of need can help save their life, especially if they’ve been flirting with the idea of suicide. Unfortunately, in some cultures, mental health is highly stigmatized, so reaching out for help could be… out of reach. Some marginalized groups may not have the same awareness of or access to resources as you do. Thus, your mutual relationship could be that essential.
Depression is a mental health disorder that can cause a person to lose interest in hobbies and socializing and elicit feelings of hopelessness and deep sadness. It is sometimes claimed to be a problem with a chemical imbalance in the brain, but research shows that it is more complicated than that. As a result, treating depression requires careful consideration of a variety of biological and environmental factors. Typically, depression is treated with antidepressants like SSRIs, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Psychotherapy could be an essential component to recovery in the long-term, as it may help a person identify unaddressed trauma and accompanying triggers. Focusing on enhancing relationships with family and friends may improve a patient’s situation and prevent them from making poor decisions like abusing drugs or alcohol. Essential, meaningful relationships could help prevent a person from resorting to something even worse, like suicide. Oceanfront Recovery’s Depression Treatment Progam focuses on treating patients based on their unique needs. Consider our facility located in peaceful Laguna Beach for quality care for you or your loved one. Call Oceanfront Recovery today at (877) 279-1777.