Philadelphia Treatment Guide
What It Is
Though the cause is still not entirely known, depression is often linked with an overabundance or deficiency of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. Though genetics play an important role, depression is often triggered by a severe life stress or trauma. It is also more common among women than men, most likely due to the hormonal changes that occur in women during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy.
A constant feeling of sadness, worthlessness, irritability or guilt; decreased interest in usual activities; a change in appetite; restlessness; loss of energy despite lack of activity; thoughts of suicide; anxiety; insomnia; and difficulty concentrating
Currently, up to 80 percent of people experiencing depression are not receiving treatment, though a variety of treatment options are available.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors increase the amount of available serotonin in the brain, allowing a depressed brain to achieve the chemical balance of a non-depressed brain. As a whole, this newer group of drugs has fewer and less severe side effects than its older counterparts.
Tricyclic antidepressants may work for those whose condition does not improve with SSRIs, though they have more side effects. They work similarly to SSRIs, but in addition to serotonin, they also free up another neotransmitter, norepinephrine, and perhaps others.
MAOIs are seen as somewhat of a last resort for treatment-resistent depression. Many patients who are unresponsive to antidepressants find that MAOIs work, but this type of drug is rarely prescribed because of the side effects. MAOIs can interfere with certain foods and medications and may cause cardiovascular problems. They work by blocking monoamine oxidase, an enzyme that causes the breakdown of neurotransmitter hormones that are likely responsible for mood changes.
Though therapy can come in all forms — group, one-on-one, cognitive, and intrapersonal therapy — the intention shared by all types is to fix the underlying issues that exist at the root of the depression. Learning how to deal with situations, feelings, and relationships in a positive, healthy way is a tool that often takes assistance in learning, and having an educated, unbiased person listen with your best interest in mind is often helpful for many patients.
Living With Depression
Don’t let depression take the joy out of life. Asking for help is vital — nearly 90 percent of people diagnosed find relief from symptoms through proper treatment.