Depression can be mild, moderate, or severe. It can also be related to medical disorders, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, cancer, or to other mental health conditions, such as anxiety. It can happen at any age, but usually starts in patients in their teen years, or early 20s and 30s.
What Is Depression?
epression is a fairly common mood disorder; you have probably met someone suffering from depression at some point in your life, or you might have even suffered from it yourself. But what is depression?
Many people use the term “depressed” lightly; but depression isn’t simply being sad or moody. In order to be diagnosed with depression, a person must display certain psychological and/or physical symptoms every day for a period of at least two weeks.
Some of these symptoms are:
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Lack of concentration, impaired memory
- Sleeping less or more than usual
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Feelings of guilt
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Thoughts about death or suicide; suicide attempts
What Causes Depression?
Scientists haven’t discovered what exactly causes depression. There are, however, many factors that play a role in its development. Some of them are:
How is Depression Diagnosed?
There isn’t a specific test meant to diagnose depression. Instead, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms to determine whether you are suffering from depression.
It is possible that your doctor will perform a physical examination and/or order laboratory tests, in order to rule out any other disease or condition which might cause depressive symptoms.
The evaluation must determine which depressive symptoms are present, when they started, a thorough personal and family history, along with any other factors which could contribute to the patient’s condition.
Patients with depression usually have a positive response to treatment. However, it is important to remember that not all patients react in the same way to the same treatments. Therefore, it is possible that you will need to try different alternatives before finding a treatment that works for you. Depression is usually treated with a combination of medications and therapy.
Antidepressants are meant to regulate the brain chemistry in order to relieve depression. Although some improvement might be seen after a couple of weeks into the treatment, their full effect isn’t usually apparent until 1-3 months taking the medication, and they are usually prescribed for at least 6 months.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, vortioxetine (approved in 2013) amongst others.
- Serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): venlafaxine, duloxetine, levomilnacipran, levomilnacipram (approved in 2013), amongst others.
- Serotonin-Dopamine Activity Modulators (SDAMs): brexpiprazole, aripiprazole.
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): amitriptyline, clomipramine, doxepin, nortriptyline, amongst others.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): isocarboxazid, phenelzine, tranylcypromine, and selegiline amongst others.
- Atypical antidepressants: mirtazapine, bupropion, trazodone, amongst others.
There is also some clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of St. John’s Wart as a therapeutic alternative for mild depression. However, some studies have theorized that this is due to a placebo effect, and it should not be used to replace conventional medications.
Different types of psychotherapy, such as behavioral activation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, mindfulness based cognitive therapy, and problem solving therapy are used in conjunction with antidepressants to improve the efficacy of the treatment. It might be used alone to treat mild cases of depression. Therapy can be individual, or it can involve the patient’s partner, family, or other individuals.
Electroconvulsive therapy is another form of therapy, but it is usually reserved for severe depression where other therapies have failed, and the patient has a high risk of suicide. It has been shown to be very effective in these cases, and it produces improvement faster than other forms of treatment.
Depression Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are a great way to help further research regarding depression, and also to get access to care from experts in the field.
Depression clinical trials are mostly carried out to determine the safety and efficacy of new medications and procedures, and they are led by a research team. A patient can obtain life-changing treatments through a clinical trial; however, it is important to note that if the patient wishes to leave the trial for any reason, they may do so at any point during the research.
Assessing the Feasibility of Screening and Treating Anxiety and Depression in the Bone Marrow Transplant Population
on July 18, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Anxiety; DepressionIntervention: Sponsor: UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer CenterCompleted […]
EEG Characteristics in ECT
on July 17, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Electroconvulsive Therapy; Direct Current Electroencephalogram; Ketamine; Spreadind DepressionInterventions: Drug: Ketamine; Drug: MethohexitalSponsors: University of New Mexico; University of New Mexico Clinical & Translational Science CenterNot yet recruiting […]
Pain Neuroscience Education for Depression
on July 17, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Chronic Low-back Pain; DepressionIntervention: Other: PNE edcuationSponsor: St. Ambrose UniversityRecruiting […]
A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of AXS-05 in Subjects With Major Depressive Disorder
on July 15, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Depression; Major Depressive DisorderInterventions: Drug: AXS-05; Drug: PlaceboSponsor: Axsome Therapeutics, Inc.Recruiting […]
An Internet-Delivered Mind-Body Program for Reducing Prenatal Maternal Stress
on July 12, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Pregnancy Related; Stress, Psychological; Anxiety; Perinatal DepressionInterventions: Behavioral: SMART Pregnancy; Behavioral: Treatment as usualSponsors: Stony Brook University; Massachusetts General Hospital; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child […]
Neuraxial Preservative Free Morphine for Normal Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery
on July 12, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Postpartum Pain; Postpartum Depression; Opioid ConsumptionInterventions: Drug: Preservative Free Morphine; Drug: SalineSponsor: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNot yet recruiting […]
Detection of Postoperative Respiratory Depression in High Risk Patients Utilizing Minute Ventilation Monitoring
on July 12, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Respiratory DepressionIntervention: Device: Expiron respiratorSponsor: Yale UniversityRecruiting […]
Online Prenatal Trial in Mindfulness Sleep Management
on July 11, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Pregnancy Related; Insomnia; DepressionInterventions: Behavioral: OPTIMISM; Behavioral: Sleep EducationSponsors: University of Washington; National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)Not yet recruiting […]
If you are interested in joining a clinical trial, ask your doctor about trials open in your area, or contact hospitals and universities to obtain information about clinical trials available to you.
There are many things you can do to improve depression. Lifestyle changes can help maximize the benefits of medication and therapy.
- Eating a healthy diet: a diet rich in fatty acids (fish, nuts, supplements), amino acids (meat, dairy, some vegetables), and complex carbohydrates (grains, fruits, and vegetables) can help improve mood. It is also important to avoid drugs and alcohol.
- Exercise: exercising at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week can help reduce stress, stabilize mood, and improve sleep and self-esteem.
- Sleep: lack of sleep can worsen depressive symptoms such as fatigue and irritability. Having a bedtime routine and getting restful sleep helps improve these symptoms.
- Hobbies: developing hobbies which make you feel better is a good way to improve your mood.
- Be understanding and non-judgmental of your loved one: depression is an illness just like any other, and it is important not to stigmatize it.
- Learn the symptoms so that you can recognize the disease or any worsening symptoms.
- Get help: it is important to be aware that you might need help to deal with your loved one’s illness, too.
- Encourage adherence to treatment: make sure to talk to your loved one and express your encouragement, so that they don’t stop following their treatment.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. (2015). Depression (NIH Publication No. 15-3561). Bethesda, MD: U.S. Government Printing Office. Recovered from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-what-you-need-to-know/index.shtml
- Simon, G. (Jun 29th, 2017) Patient education: Depression treatment options for adults (Beyond the Basics). Recovered from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/depression-treatment-options-for-adults-beyond-the-basics?source=see_link