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What is Depression?

In the medical world, depression is termed as Clinical Depression or Major Depressive Disorder.

A depressed individual usually experiences hopelessness, loss of motivation/enthusiasm, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and loss of appetite. According to official data from the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects more than 300 million people in the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 1.9 million children aged between 3 to 17 years in the United States experience depression.

Depression can lead to other health problems such as eating disorders, concentration problems, and sleep disorders. Those health problems will interfere with one’s daily activities. In its worst condition, depression can lead to drug abuse, alcohol addiction, and even suicide.

Causes of Depression

Depression is a highly complex disease because no one knows exactly what causes it. Depression can arise as a result of various factors, for example:

  • Congenital factors

A person with history of depression in their family has a higher potential of developing depression.

  • Personality factors

Several personality traits can make a person prone to depression. These personalities include: low self-esteem, being too self-critical, difficulty adapting, and not easily satisfied.

  • Important life events

People tend to experience depression when they go through drastic changes in their lives. For example: moving house, graduating, changing of jobs, getting fired, getting divorced, and retiring.

  • Past traumas 

Losing a loved one (death, divorce, or separation), conflict in relationships, being victims of violence and / or bullying, social isolation, and accidents can trigger depression in a person.

  • Other diseases

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) provides statistical data from various sources that conclude the existence of common chronic diseases that can trigger depression. These diseases include: cancer, stroke, heart attack, coronary heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, eating disorders, HIV, and diabetes. Consumption of certain medications can also trigger depression.

When to See a Doctor for Depression?

When symptoms of depression start to interfere with your daily life, it is imperative that you seek professional help immediately. The right expert to treat depression is a psychiatrist. 

The psychiatrist will start the session by conducting a number of medical evaluations through Q&As. Things that are commonly asked are the patient’s personal life, family background and history, the patient’s health condition, and how the patient feels about his or her mental condition. In this session, it is very important for the patient to be relaxed, open, and honest while answering every question.

In addition, doctors are likely to perform urine tests or blood tests. This is necessary to help identify if the patient’s depression may be caused by another disease or due to the consumption of certain substances (e.g. alcohol and / or narcotics).

Symptoms of Depression

If you experience five or more of the following symptoms for two consecutive weeks, you should consult a psychiatrist.

  1. Feel excessively tired every day even though you did not participate in much activity
  2. Feel guilty, meaningless, and pessimistic
  3. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too long
  4. Lose interest in almost all daily activities
  5. Lose affection and emotions are reduced
  6. Appetite loss or uncontrollable desire to eat 
  7. Drastic weight changes (gain or lose about 5% in one month)
  8. Trouble concentrating and remembering
  9. Feeling anxious, sad, and empty
  10. Experience nausea, heartburn, and vomiting
  11. Suicidal thoughts 

Treatment for Depression

These days, depression is deemed as a serious disease that requires professional treatment. To treat depression, the expertise of a psychiatrist is required. In general, a psychiatrist will provide treatments such as:

  • Antidepressants

The psychiatrist will prescribe a number of medications that can help reduce symptoms of depression. These medications work to regulate the chemicals in the brain to control the patient’s mood. You may be recommended to consume antidepressants for several months to years, depending on your condition.

  • Psychotherapy

The psychiatrist will conduct a heart-to-heart session (counseling). You must feel comfortable when conveying your thoughts, feelings and emotions. From this session, the psychiatrist will understand your condition and formulate certain ways to help you manage stress until you get better. Therapy sessions are usually scheduled regularly. 

  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) 

It is also known as electro-shock therapy. This therapy involves electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia and a muscle relaxant. Small electric currents are passed through the brain to treat symptoms of depression. ECT therapy is usually conducted in several sessions for over four weeks.

Treatment Cost for Depression

Treatment cost for depression generally also includes consultation, medications, and therapy. For more information, you can contact Smarter Health.

Smarter Health can also help you find psychiatrists and hospitals within your treatment budget.

Prevention of Depression

There are a number of practices you can undertake to prevent depression, such as:

  1. Know and avoid things that can trigger stress
  2. Maintain a balanced diet and eat healthy food
  3. Maintain good sleep patterns and reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption
  4. Exercise regularly and meditate
  5. Read self-improvement books
  6. Participate in activities that match your talents and interests

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