What is Depression?

Depression is a mental disorder affecting an estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States. Despite this rather staggering number many individuals are never officially diagnosed. And those whom are diagnosed are often poorly treated. The diagnosing doctor (normally a psychiatrist or psychologist) will often use a written questionnaire or simple conversation to rate an individual’s depression level. Diagnosis can be difficult, because depression doesn’t always manifest itself the same across the board.

The most common clinical depression causes sadness. Of course we all experience sadness at some point in our lives. We lose loved ones, lose jobs, and simply have bad days. This normal sadness experienced by most individuals, is not depression, but rather life’s down turns. We all have ups and downs, but we always seem to rise back up, eventually. Sadness experienced in depression, however, is a continuous, excessive, and life altering weight upon one’s shoulders. This lingering sadness interferes with work, sleep, recreation, sex, and other aspects of life.

Individuals in the thralls of depression often complain of feeling “empty”, of being unable to explain what they are feeling or even why they are feeling the way they are. They tend to lose interest in once enjoyable activities and find it difficult to focus. As expected, this inner mental discord can cross into the physical causing the person suffering to become restless and fatigued, yet unable to sleep. Lack of sleep (as we all know) can cause irritability and unclear thinking. Or perhaps they find themselves sleeping excessively, which adds to their disinterest in activities. The individual may also begin to gain or lose a significant amount of weight. This may lead to a feeling of worthlessness or self-loathing and guilt. Combine a few of these symptoms at the right time in the sufferer’s life and it can lead to thoughts of suicide. Continue such couplings at the wrong moment in one’s life and those

struggling with this mental disorder may encounter the perfect culmination for a

suicide attempt. This is a finality we never want sufferers to encounter.

If you or a loved one exhibits three or more of these symptoms, please seek medical advice immediately. Your primary doctor may be able to lead you in the right direction or you may want to talk through your feelings with a therapist. There are currently no medical exams capable of diagnosing depression, but as mentioned above, there are questionnaires and other ways professionals can pick up on depression via conversation. It may be the tone of one’s voice, their facial expressions, language spoken, or even posture. If diagnosed with depression, your doctor will create a treatment plan based on both the depression type and the severity of it.

Antidepressants to increase serotonin (the happy chemical in the brain) are normally introduced in an attempt to level the chemical imbalance in the brain. These typical drugs, however, are not always enough to control depression or alleviate symptoms. Recent studies have even shown that depression may actually be caused by decreased cellular growth in the hippocampus area (the memory and emotion area of the brain). It has also been shown that DNA may also increase one’s likelihood of depression. Because of such brain alterations, many patients are unable to experience relief using the typical oral medications. Many individuals have turned to alternative treatments such as psychotherapy, cognitive therapy and ketamine therapy. Discuss your options with you healthcare provider immediately if you feel as though your current treatment plan is ineffective. Don’t ignore your symptoms. Don’t ignore your inner pain. Don’t let self-guilt keep you from seeking the best treatment possible. Trust me, your doctor will appreciate your honesty and it will help him/ her lead you in the right direction. You are loved. You are wanted. And you are worth it. All you have to do is: NEVER GIVE UP!

Gelice Pace



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