Most of us get a case of the “blues” from time to time. But clinical depression, also called major depressive disorder, is much more than occasional bouts of sadness or self-pity. Depression manifests both physically and emotionally and can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. Those suffering from depression may have trouble coping with even routine activities of daily life and often experience problems with sleep, appetite, work or school productivity, and social interaction, and personal relationships. An individual must be experiencing persistent symptoms for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with depression. A person of any age can suffer from depression, including children.
Symptoms of Depression
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness
- Exhaustion, lethargy, inability to attend to tasks
- Angry, irritable, set off by even small things
- Disturbed sleep patterns, either sleeping too much or too little
- Eating too much or too little, gaining or losing weight
- Unable to enjoy activities that had been pleasurable
- Low self-esteem, blaming self for failures
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Choosing to stay home rather than socialize
- Unexplained pain, often back pain or headache
- Suicidal thoughts or actions, a fixation on death
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while depression is common in all ages, it often goes undiagnosed in the elderly. It should be noted that depression is not a normal part of the aging process. No matter what one’s age, anyone experiencing signs of depression should discuss their symptoms with a health care professional.
What Causes Depression?
It was once thought that chemical imbalance was the root cause of depression. A study by Harvard Medical School finds that depression does not stem from a single cause, but rather results from a combination of factors. The Harvard study, updated in 2017, found the disease to be more complex than simply a chemical imbalance. Their research, which is supported by other research studies, finds that depression might also be triggered by individual genetics, medications, medical issues, high levels of acute or chronic stress, environmental factors, or imbalances in the part of the brain that controls mood.
How is Depression Treated?
A combination of medication and psychotherapy has been found to be the most successful treatment protocol for depression.
While there are many antidepressants available, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is often the first class of medications tried. They tend to lessen feelings of sadness and anxiety and are generally considered safer, while delivering fewer side effects, than other antidepressants. If SSRIs are not effective, there are several other antidepressants that can be tried. Doctors sometimes prescribe a combination of antidepressants or other medications for the best results. Patients should always consult with their doctor before lessening the dose or abruptly stopping any antidepressant, as this could result in worsening of symptoms or experiencing withdrawal effects.
The FDA requires antidepressants to be labeled with a black box warning, indicating the drug may present a serious hazard to the user. Adverse reactions leading to serious injury, including an increase in suicidal thoughts or actions, can occur. It is important that antidepressants be taken as prescribed, and under the continued supervision of health care professionals.
Also referred to as talk therapy or counseling, psychotherapy is an integral component of the treatment plan for depression. Therapists help individuals to better understand behaviors or emotions that might be triggering their depression, along with coping techniques. In addition to traditional talk therapy, some of the more common therapeutic approaches to treating depression include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – helps to identify and change negative thought patterns, and to learn coping strategies.
- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) – helps to improve personal relationships and overcome social isolation.
- Problem-solving therapy – helps develop problem solving skills and strategies for managing uncomfortable or upsetting events.
While talk therapy may take place over months or even years, CBT, IPT, and Problem-solving therapy generally take place within a specific, short-term time frame.
How Midwest Recovery Centers Treats Depression
Each admission begins with a comprehensive assessment used by the dedicated professionals at Midwest Recovery Centers to develop a depression treatment plan specifically tailored to the needs of that client and his or her family. Considering the primary diagnosis and any co-occurring disorders, including mental health, physical, or behavioral issues, the team identifies goals and objectives that will best ensure long-term recovery. The resulting treatment plan addresses multiple areas of the client’s life and establishes realistic, measurable, and attainable goals to promote healthy progress.
Each client is assigned a personal therapist who will conduct individual therapy. This provides the opportunity to work on specific issues, have ongoing assessment and diagnosis, and to determine appropriate referrals. The plan may also include group therapy, in the form of emotional process groups, cognitive behavioral therapies, and/or psycho-educational groups. Medications are often an important part of the recovery plan, and each client remains under close medical supervision throughout treatment. Midwest Recovery Centers has many other specialists on staff and in the community, who may also be part of an individual treatment plan.
Once treatment is concluded, Midwest Recovery Centers provides an extensive aftercare program to continue to reinforce the principles and behaviors that have been learned in the recovery process.
Reviewed and Assessed by
Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., MAADC II
Tim Coleman, M. of Ed.