Depression is one of the most common mental disorder. Year morbidity come to about 6% of the population.
Depression occurs regardless of age. However, the greatest risk of depressive disorders involve menopause (menopause and andropause) and old age.
Causes of depression:
- endogenous (primary depressive disorders) - mood disorders: bipolar disorder (manic depression), recurrent affective disorders (unipolar affective disorder, recurrent depression), chronic affective disorders (dysthymia, cyklothymia), schizoaffective disorders
- somatic (organic) - depression associated with somatic diseases, depression in organic brain diseases, depressions associated with the use of drugs and other substances (poisoning, addictions)
- psychological - reactive depression (associated with the emotional trauma), depression as a grief reactions, depression accompanying nervous disorders, depression associated with adaptation to significant life changes
Symptoms of depression:
- sadness, gloom
- lack of energy to per form
- problems with concentration
- reduced self-esteem
- sleep disorders
- lack of appetite causing weight loss
- impairment of the sense of smell
- in severe cases - suicidal thoughts and depressive delusions, as well as, olfactory hallucinations (such as smelling odor of death, decay)
Depression affects not only adults. Younger people also suffer from it. Because of the nonspecific symptoms of depression referring to children, the disease remains undiagnosed or is being diagnosed for a long time.
Apart from the typical, above mentioned symptoms, depression in children may manifests itself by:
- problems at school
- somatic symptoms (abdominal pain, headache, dyspnea)
- reluctance to play
- loss of interests
- lack of communication of their own wishes
- sudden and unjustified changes in mood
- weight loss or not gaining weight
Depressive episodes are divided into:
- mild (mild core symptoms of depression occur)
- moderate (basic symptoms of depression are averagely escalated, reluctance to life, difficulties in the social and professional functioning)
- severe without psychotic symptoms (gloom occurs, psychotomimetic slowing, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, inability to social and occupational functioning)
- severe with psychotic symptoms (as above, additionally delusions of sinfulness, guilt and punishment, hypochondriac, auditory hallucinations, motor inhibition and finally stupor)
Depression is treated mainly through drug treatment and psychotherapy. Supporting therapies are also used, among other - light therapy. Prognosis for people with mild and moderate forms of depression are very good. Appropriate treatment (correct diagnosis, regular use of medication in doses recommended by the physician, participation in psychotherapy) results in relief of depression for most of the patients.
There are many antidepressant drugs (mainly affecting such systems as: serotoninergic, noradrenergic and dopaminergic), different when it comes to chemical structure, potency, safety, etc. Other drugs are used supportively- neuroleptics, benzodiazepines or normothymic drugs.
All the current antidepressants present in the market work after a period of latency. Improvement of the mood can be observed after about 2-4 weeks. Treatment usually lasts for 3-6 months.
After the treatment, medication should be discontinued gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms - weakness, muscle pain, intensive sweating, gastrointestinal disorders. The process of discontinuing of the drug may take several weeks and involves gradual reduction of the dose.