esearchers are constantly seeking new breakthroughs to diagnose and treat people with clinical depression. In the UK, one out of four people will experience mental health problems this year. According to the mental health charity, Mind, in 2016, 3.3 out of 100 people experienced depression in England. 5.9 people out of 100 experienced anxieties and 7.8 in 100 people experienced both. Some of the people surveyed experienced other types of mental health problems, too. The studies are ongoing to help researchers determine if this is a growing trend and if so, what can be done.
What are the signs that someone is experiencing depression?
People may be diagnosed with clinical depression if they experience an overwhelming sadness or anxiety for most of the day over a two-week period or longer. A GP should be consulted if you or a loved one is experiencing the following behaviours:
- Persistent sadness or feeling empty
- Feeling hopeless and that nothing is going right
- Feeling helpless and unworthy
- A sudden loss of interest in hobbies or finding no joy in them anymore
- Lack of energy or feeling fatigued
- Having a foggy brain including the inability to concentrate or remember things
- Insomnia or an increase in the amount of time spent sleeping
- Rapid weight gain or weight loss
- Unexplained physical pains
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Depression is treatable. Help is available through prescription medication, therapies, and alternative treatments. A physician can help to identify the type of depression that is being experienced and the appropriate treatment for the individual. If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, treatment should be sought after immediately.
Types of Depression
Research has broken down clinical depression into different diagnoses depending upon common symptoms and experiences. Each depression diagnosis is prescribed a different treatment plan. The types include:
Major depression is when someone exhibits at least five of the behaviours listed above for a period greater than two weeks. Along with an antidepressant, talking therapy, which is also known as psychotherapy is often recommended.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
PDD is major depression that has lasted for longer than two years. Treatment often involves prescription medication along with psychotherapy. Additional treatments may be suggested or added as well.
Previously known as manic depression, someone with bipolar disorder displays extreme emotions. Their high energy moments often crash into a very low state of depression. Mood stabiliser medications are often prescribed.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Also known as SAD, this disorder typically affects people in the winter months when they are not receiving enough sunlight. Light therapy treatment is recommended, and antidepressants can be helpful.
Someone with psychotic depression has major depression with psychotic episodes. This includes seeing hallucinations and experiencing paranoia. Antipsychotic and antidepressant medications are often prescribed together.
Postpartum depression happens to some women a short time after giving birth. Antidepressants often help.
There is still so much to learn about the human brain and depression. New studies are coming out annually with breakthroughs to bringing better understandings and better treatments. Some of the compelling research includes the discovery of the role in ghrelin in depression. It is a natural antidepressant hormone found in the brain. The more stress a person exhibits; the more neurons ghrelin produces for the hippocampus. This provides the hippocampus the ability to regulate mood, memory, and eating habits better. Ghrelin can be enhanced by the compound P7C3 thereby creating a potential for a new class of antidepressant medications.
A new study in 2016 has determined that Behavioural Therapy (BA) is equally as effective as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This is such a big breakthrough because the cost for BA is approximately 20 percent less than CBT. Due to its simplistic nature, BA may be offered by junior staff with less training, bringing the cost down and making it more accessible to people who may not have been able to afford treatment. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Talk Therapy involves licensed psychologists and psychiatrists helping a patient to become aware of their own negative or inaccurate thinking. The therapist then works with them to determine another way of viewing things. BA encourages patients to seek out activities that they are avoiding. This is due to the understanding that avoidance reinforces their negative thought pattern. New activities encourage them to create patterns.
There is much to know and discover in the field of mental health. The incidence of depression in the world is staggering. The World Health Organisation cites depression as the number one reason for disability worldwide. The more that is understood about the brain and depression as a whole, the less people will be disabled by this treatable disease. Research is ongoing in this field and the next big breakthrough is right around the corner.
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