The information in this section should not be used for self-diagnosis and self-treatment. In the case of pain or other exacerbations of the disease, diagnostic tests should only be prescribed by your doctor. Your physician should be consulted for diagnosis and proper treatment.
The criteria for a depressive episode are a daily and major part of the day decrease in mood that differs significantly from a person’s usual state for two weeks or more, an obvious decrease in interests and enjoyment of activities usually associated with positive emotions, increased fatigue and motor lethargy.
To the above symptoms may be added the following:
- decreased attention span;
- impaired appetite;
- decreased self-esteem;
- thoughts of guilt;
- suicidal thoughts.
- Psychogenic depression develops as a reaction to psychotraumatic events.
- Endogenous depression is caused by changes in the levels of hormones and neurotransmitters.
- Exogenous depression occurs under various somatic diseases, as a result of brain damage and use of psychoactive substances.
- Latent (“masked”) depression manifests itself in the form of a somatic illness.
When diagnosing it, it is important to rule out the presence of any organic illnesses. After all, such depression has many manifestations, with which patients consult therapists, cardiologists, neurologists, etc. However, examinations do not reveal any organic pathology.
The most common form of such depression is cardiac. Patients feel excruciating pain in the heart area, palpitations, weakness, dizziness, but no abnormalities are detected when undergoing cardiac examination.
The abdominal variant is also common, with pain in any part of the abdomen, nausea, and decreased appetite.
The cutaneous variant is characterized by redness and changes in skin sensitivity, the appearance of eczematous rashes, increased sweating, itching, often localized (for example, itching only the palms or shins).
Causes of exogenous depression may be craniocerebral trauma, neuroinfections, tumor and vascular diseases of the brain (atherosclerosis, strokes and cerebral infarcts), atrophic processes.
Psychogenic depression occurs after exposure to psychological trauma, which is an individually significant stressful event.
Endogenous depression occurs as an independent illness, but can also accompany bipolar disorder, which is characterized by the alternation of phases of mania, depression and mental stability.
Somatic diseases that can lead to depression are divided into groups.
- Cardiac abnormalities: myocardial infarction, arterial hypertension, chronic heart failure, arrhythmias.
- Endocrine disorders: diabetes mellitus, hypo- and hyperthyroidism.
- Gastrointestinal disorders: cirrhosis of the liver, colitis, etc., leading to impaired absorption and detoxification of harmful substances.
- Rheumatic diseases: rheumatism, systemic connective tissue lesions, arthritis, etc. accompanied by severe pain, require long-term treatment.
- New growths, especially malignant ones.
Peculiarities of the postpartum period contribute to the development of this condition: there is a hormonal restructuring of the body (concentration of female sex hormones decreases), the volume of circulating blood decreases.
The deterioration of health after childbirth, problems during breastfeeding, and changes in appearance also have a considerable influence. Depression develops in 10% of first-born women from the 2nd to the 6th month after childbirth and presents symptoms typical of all depressions: motor retardation, worsening of mood, tearfulness, changes in appetite. A feature of postnatal depression is a woman’s decreased interest in the child, irritation from the need to care for him or her. It is very important to diagnose this condition in time and undergo treatment, since it is the child who suffers in the first place.
What doctors should you go to when depressed?
In most cases, when depressed patients seek help from a general practitioner, cardiologist, endocrinologist, gastroenterologist depending on the cause of their complaints. Many patients avoid seeking help from a psychiatrist or psychologist. However, specialists in psychiatry and psychology not only diagnose the causes of depression but also help to cope with it.
Diagnosis of depression A doctor of any specialty can suspect depression. However, depression can only be diagnosed by a psychiatrist, who will conduct an interview and analyze the data obtained. To exclude organic pathology in masked and exogenous depression, depending on the symptoms, the doctor may prescribe a complex of laboratory and instrumental examinations:
- clinical blood test;
Synonyms: Full blood count, FBC. Full blood count, FBC, Complete blood count (CBC) with differential white blood cell count (CBC with diff), Hemogram. Brief description of the study Clinical blood count: total.
Treating depression without antidepressants
Drug use causes irreversible harm to your health and is life-threatening!
When something in life does not go according to plan and there is a reason for sadness, many people immediately say: “I am depressed. But in fact, this statement is not always true. Let’s find out what depression really is and how to get rid of it.
Is depression a disease?
Depression is not moping or a bad mood. It is a disease in which the biochemical processes in the brain are altered. Symptoms of a depressive disorder last from 2 weeks or more. Sometimes the condition lasts for years, and the person does not even suspect it.
True clinical depression is the result of impaired absorption or production of neurotransmitters – substances responsible for brain function and emotions. As a result, the person becomes apathetic and often has a bad mood.
Depression can be triggered by a traumatic event or prolonged severe stress. Risk factors include psychological abuse in childhood or adulthood.
Depression often occurs against a background of a lack of biologically active substances. Such symptoms are experienced by people with a deficiency of vitamin D, ferritin, and iron. Signs of depression are also noted when there is an imbalance of hormones against the background of a malfunction or endocrine pathology.
In some cases, the depressive state is caused by taking certain medications. This side effect should be recorded in the instructions.
Decreased mood and other symptoms of depressive disorder are sometimes associated with a lack of sunlight. These complaints usually peak in the spring and fall.
Is depression permanent?
Because of the long course of the illness, there are fears that depression is permanent. In fact, this is not entirely true.
You can get rid of mild depression on your own – by experiencing a traumatic event, going through the emotions and recovering. Without therapy, the condition that appeared against the background of the use of certain medications also goes away. After their withdrawal, everything returns to normal.
Without treatment, depression can progress.
The moderate to severe condition needs to be monitored by a doctor. The behavior of the sick person often exacerbates the symptoms, leading to the progression of the pathology and the deterioration of the condition. This is related both to the workings of the brain and to the patterns formed during life.
With the right therapy, depression can be treated or managed at any stage and for any duration. If the condition is caused by hormonal disorders or deficiency of biologically active substances, the symptoms will disappear after the imbalance is corrected. In the case of psychogenic (caused by unpleasant events) and endogenous (caused by mental malfunction) conditions, specific treatment is required.
Treatment without antidepressants
People are afraid of psychotropic medications because of side effects or their own prejudices, so they avoid going to a specialist. But in fact, most cases of depressive disorder can be treated without pharmacotherapy. Pills are only a means to a quicker and more pronounced effect, and a support for psychotherapy. Most patients are able to cope without them if they see a knowledgeable specialist in a timely manner.
The basis of therapy for depression:
- Psychotherapy sessions.
- Sleep hygiene.
- Relaxation practices (Jacobson method or progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises).
- Observance of the daily routine.
- Physical activities.
If the patient does not feel strong enough to study and comply with the recommendations, he needs medication support.
Are antidepressants dangerous?
There are almost as many fears around antidepressants as there are around antibiotics. But if everyone is accustomed to the latter, then the former still cause doubt and anxiety among patients. And for good reason.
Modern antidepressants work quite gently.
The drugs allow the body to compensate for the lack of neurotransmitters, so that the person starts to feel good again.
At the beginning of taking antidepressants, the body adapts. For the first 2-3 weeks, side effects may occur. Because of this, they often cancel them on their own, telling each other tall tales about the deterioration. But you should only listen to your doctor and consult with him.
It is important to choose the right dosage: it increases gradually. Therefore, in the beginning of admission may have no effect. The doctor adjusts the dosage. As a rule, specialists always stay in touch with the patient. If there are any doubts about how you feel, you should inform your doctor. By following these rules, antidepressants will only make you feel good and speed up your recovery.
Antidepressants and addiction: myth or truth
Addiction to antidepressants is only partly a myth. Some drugs that were previously used to treat depression may have been addictive. But they have not been used for a long time.
The latest generation of antidepressants is not addictive.
Some patients have to take antidepressants for several years. This is not due to addiction, but to a severe illness. If you go to the doctor with depression at an early stage, long-term pharmacotherapy is not necessary for most patients.
Gradual withdrawal of antidepressants is also not associated with the development of dependence. It is necessary for the smooth adaptation of the body and the patient himself to life without drugs.
The most frightening consequence is irreversible mental degradation
It is necessary to recognize the addiction as early as possible and start treating it.
Is it possible to cure depression forever?
The question of getting rid of depression for good is quite complicated. It is possible to cure this illness, but the risk that it will recur is always there. It is important to monitor your condition and notice its deterioration in time.
Avoiding a repeated depressive episode will help to observe preventive measures. Taking care of yourself, refraining from alcohol, physical activity and sleep hygiene will keep your body in good shape. You should try to avoid severe stress and fatigue.
In some cases, depression is chronic. Then the patient will take medication for the rest of his life. In this case, he gets the opportunity to live without mood swings and other unpleasant symptoms. Antidepressants perform the same role as insulin in diabetes, so there is no need to be afraid of it.
How can a specialist help with depression?
Seeing a doctor for depressive symptoms is necessary. It is best to immediately visit a psychotherapist: he owns the methods of diagnosis, will prescribe the necessary tests, can conduct both medication and psychotherapeutic treatment.
Clinical psychologists are also able to diagnose depression. They see patients in outpatient clinics. If a doctor suspects a depressive episode, he or she will refer the patient for examination and refer the patient to a specialized specialist.
There is no need to fear being placed on the register when applying to state clinics.
People with this diagnosis are not subject to registration. Doctors do not have the right to tell the patient’s employer or other people about the patient’s diagnosis, it is protected by medical confidentiality.
Treatment of mild to moderate depression often occurs without medication support. The doctor corrects the patient’s condition only with psychotherapy. It includes individual sessions and obligatory fulfillment of the therapist’s recommendations at home.
Medication support is the administration of prescription medications according to a regimen selected by the doctor. It is not possible to change the dosage and type of medication by oneself.
It is not necessary to wait for depression to go away on its own, or to live with it for years. If your loved one has similar symptoms, it is worth gently bringing him or her to the help of specialists. Depression is the same pathology as a cold or a broken leg. After all, no one tries to wait for bones to heal on their own. Nor is it necessary to wait for depressive symptoms; it is better to seek help and start enjoying life again.