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If you or a loved one has ever suffered from depression, you understand the debilitating effects it can have on the person who suffers from it, as well as on family members and friends. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over 20 million Americans are depressed, and most of those who suffer from depression are not treated for it. This is especially tragic because depression is easily treated with prescriptions and other therapies.
Symptoms of Depression
While most of us associate depression with sadness, the symptoms can take on a variety of characteristics. Chronic anxiety or periodic panic attacks can be symptoms of depression, as can overwhelming feelings of guilt or pessimism. According to the NIMH, people who are depressed can have a hard time making decisions or concentrating, and they can suffer from memory problems.
Although we may think of a depressed person as lethargic, he or she can actual experience restlessness that may be accompanied by insomnia or other sleep problems. Similarly, other physical symptoms can manifest, such as chronic pain, headaches, and stomach problems.
Causes of Depression
Perhaps because so many Americans suffer from depression, there is less stigma about the disease now than in previous decades. Unfortunately, misinformation still seems to find it’s way out there in the internet. Although depression can be characterized as a mood disorder, it's very often a genetic illness caused by brain chemicals gone awry.
Other people, such as those who have a poor self-image or who are easily stressed out, seem to be more susceptible to depression. Sometimes, a physical illness can trigger depression, while other times tragic life circumstances can send someone into a downward spiral. It seems that, for women, hormones can play a significant role in depression. The bottom line is that people who experience depression can't simply “snap out of it.”
Types of Depression:
Depression is often divided into subtypes according to exhibited symptoms.
Mono-polar depression and dysthymic disorder
By mono-polar depression there are pure depressive symptoms. Mild cases of mono-polar disorder that do not affect a person’s ability to work and to participate in social activities are often called dysthymic disorder.
Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disease) and cyclothymic disorder
In this condition there are periods with symptoms of depression – the depressive phase, alternating with periods of elevated mood level with increased mental and physical activity – the manic phase. In the manic phase, the affected person also sleeps poorly and has concentration difficulties. A mild form of this disease is called cyclothymic disorder.
This condition is characterized by abnormally elevated mood, by unrealistic optimism, by lack of sleep and by hyperactive behavior. Many psychiatrists think that this disorder is simply the same disease as bipolar disorder where the depressive face has not yet occurred.
Depression with mainly physical symptoms
Sometimes the physical symptoms of depression are alone or dominant, as for example: Digestive problems, constipation, difficulties with urination, slow response to sensory stimuli or slow physical reactions.
Women will often have a period of depression after pregnancy and birth of the baby Pregnancy and berth is physically and mentally exhausting and may drain the body for nutrient. This in turn can cause depressive symptoms. Between 10% and 20% of women who have recently given birth experience PPD. Most of which go undiagnosed. So if you notice a new mother struggling with any symptoms, please help her.
Seasonal affective disorder
Depression can occur in cold and dark periods of the year and go away in warm and light periods. Light stimulates brain activity, and lack of light is a causative factor.
People who suffer from depression also exhibit other symptoms that aren't normally associated with “normal” depression including:
- Increase in appetite with a weight gain of ten or more pounds.
- Hypersomnia over sleeping of more than 10 hours per day.
- Leaden paralysis of the arms and legs
- Long term pattern of sensitivity to rejection in personal situations that causes social or work-related withdrawal.
- Serious or prolonged depression is often treated with anti-depressive medication. Medicines used against depression generally increase the level of neurotransmitters like serotonin in the central nervous system, or they mimic the neurotransmitters.
The medications mostly used today increase the serotonin concentration by decreasing the removal of serotonin from the space around nerve cells. Examples of this medication type are: Fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), escitalopram (Lexapro, Celexa), sertraline (Zoloft).
Adjustment of lifestyle should always be considered by depression or depressive symptoms. Lifestyle measures can sometimes be enough to cure depressive symptoms before a serious depression develop.
Lifestyle adjustments can be:
- To slow down a stressful life with too much work or activities.
- Enough rest and sleep.
- A good diet with enough of necessary nutrients.
- Some physical exercise.
- Supplement of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, lecithin, amino acids and essential fatty acids.
- Stimulants like coffee or tea may help against depressive feelings in moderate amount. However, if you are a heavy user of these stimulants, you should cut down on your consumption.
I personally take Lexapro (escitalopram) and have for many years to be able to live with my bi-polar, anxiety, and OCD. It seems to be the one medicine that helps me be even 50% more productive than I normally am off my medicines.
If you’ve ever noticed huge breaks in my blog where there isn’t much going on, chances are I’ve been off my meds for a while. But when you see at least 1-2 posts a week, constant interactions on my social accounts and more, that is a good indicator that my meds are back in my system and I’m being “me” again.
Pros & Cons of Lexapro
- This medication is not a controlled substance, fairly inexpensive and will not cause dependency issues.
- Many patients have relieved symptoms within two to four weeks.
- The medication improves mood, sleep, energy and appetite, as well as alleviating the symptoms of depression and anxiety helping patients regain a fulfilling life.
- However, this medication is not intended for pediatric patients under the age of 12.
- insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
- ejaculation disorder (primarily delay)
- fatigue and drowsiness
- increased sweating
- decreased libido
- anorgasmia (difficulty achieving orgasm)
If you suffer from any type of depression, and are have problems with your insurance covering all or any part of the prescriptions, you can always apply to get an effient discount card from SingleCare. Discount cards often help with being able to get you the medicines you need no matter if it’s for depression or another medical need.