Depression is a terrible and debilitating illness, previously under recognized and with a stigma attached blaming the sufferer. The sufferer is not to blame. Nobody would choose to suffer at a level that many end their lives to escape.
Depression is a mood disorder involving chemical changes within the brain that the patient did not select. In severity, it can vary from mild to severe and overwhelming. It can be life threatening or even, tragically, fatal. The diagnosis is made by a trained and qualified Psychiatrist. Diagnosis is based upon the presentation of the patient in the clinical setting with certain identifying symptoms as classified in the DSM 5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
Symptoms of Depression:
The symptoms are cruel and have been described as worse than physical pain because there is no progressive, physiological healing occurring which can be measured and monitored. Unlike physical recovery, everything is not moving in the direction of restoration.
- Low mood: This goes beyond ‘feeling down’ to much darker depths of hopelessness and despair.
- Flat affect: The depressed person usually has a frozen facial expression and slumped posture which reflects their internal mood.
- Lethargy and fatigue: This is debilitating and life destroying. Its extreme is Psycho motor retardation which is utterly paralyzing.
- Tiredness: Constantly feeling sleepy and an overwhelming need to sleep a lot more for longer periods.
- Inability to concentrate: The person’s head feels cloudy. They are unable to focus on a task or process cognitive information.
- Anhedonia: This is a total and absolute loss of interest in activities and enjoyment of life. Everything seems meaningless.
- Suicidal ideation: The person may feel like or think about ending their life, plan to do so via a chosen mode and method, or succeed.
Depression is difficult, but not impossible to conquer. There are a variety of treatments available ranging from medical to holistic.
These treatments usually control or suppress the symptoms rather than cure the depression, allowing the sufferer a better quality of life and some alleviation of psychological pain. Whilst the symptoms of depression are universal, between individuals, they vary in severity. This requires a personalized approach to treatment by a specialist treating psychiatrist plus the option of encompassing alternate or holistic therapies.
A psychiatrist will usually prescribe anti-depressant medication. Anti-depressants are classified according to their chemical mode of action in relation to Seratonin uptake. In severe cases, Dexamphetamines are utilized. They are a Schedule 8 drug and can only be prescribed by a treating psychiatrist. When the depression is extreme, E.C.T. (Electro-convulsive therapy), better known as ‘shock treatment’ may be employed.
Therapy sessions may be held with the psychiatrist. Counselling is available with psychologists or qualified counsellors.
Group therapy is another option. Natural therapies which can be utilized are music, bibliotherapy, aroma therapy and arts and crafts. Animals are also very therapeutic. Other therapies which are available are accupuncture, yoga, meditation and massage. Often, a combination of therapies is required.