While everyone feels sad sometimes, some people live with a condition called depressive disorder that is much more serious. This illness, also called clinical or major depression, affects how they think, feel, and behave. It affects both their minds and bodies and interferes with normal functioning, changing their daily lives. With the proper treatment, the majority of people suffering from depressive illnesses even in severe forms can get better.
Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder
People suffering from major depression have persistent feelings of sadness or unhappiness, exhibit loss of interest, and may experience physical symptoms. Many become frustrated or irritated by the smallest issues and may experience angry outbursts. Restlessness and agitation are other common symptoms and may cause the individual to exhibit behaviors such as wringing hands or pacing. Some people with depressive disorders always feel tired and sapped of energy. They may sleep excessively or be unable to sleep due to their condition.
This illness can lead to various emotional and physical issues. Sufferers may have trouble remembering things, thinking, concentrating, and making decisions. Some seem distracted and others fixate attention on past failures or immediately blame themselves when life does not go smoothly. Many sufferers find it difficult to perform daily activities and some even question whether their lives are worth living.
Treatments for Major Depressive Disorder
Since this is a medical illness, the sufferer cannot simply “snap out” of it and specialized treatment is usually required. Before determining a course of treatment, a doctor will perform a physical examination, ask several questions, and conduct some medical and psychological tests. Lab testing by may include checking vitamin D and B12, a thyroid test and complete blood count. Questions about thoughts, symptoms, and previous episodes are included in the psychological evaluation.
To receive a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, an individual must exhibit at least five symptoms during a two-week period and a loss of pleasure or interest or a depressed mood must be one of the symptoms. Criteria of symptoms for this illness are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Treatment for depressive disorders typically involves medications to relieve symptoms and psychological counseling to discuss thoughts and feelings as well as learning coping skills. One newer alternative to medication includes transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive treatment administered in the office of a qualified professional. Receiving adequate and consistent treatment for depression is the key to achieving relief.
Article content, © Kira Stein, MD, APC. | West Coast Life Center
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