Fighting Depression: Latest Approaches to Treatment
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a medical illness that is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and disinterest. The disease affects the way a person thinks feels and behaves. Humans become sad at some point in life, but a person with clinical depression remains depressed for a greater part of the day, especially in the morning. A depressed person will also display a loss of pleasure and interest in most of his or her activities and relationships.
Symptoms of Depression
According to the DSM-5, that is a manual used for diagnosing mental health conditions, depression is often indicated by the following signs and symptoms:
- Fatigue for most of the day
- Persistent feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleep)
- Impaired concentration
- Significantly diminished pleasure and interest in activities that you used to enjoy
- Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death
- Remarkable weight loss or gain (more than five percent of your body weight within a month)
Specialists agree that depression has several risk factors in our populations.
Populations at Risk
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 6.7 percent of Americans aged 18 and above suffer from depression. In addition, 20 to 25 percent of the adults suffer from this illness at some point in their life. It also affects children, teens, and young adults, but it goes unnoticed and, therefore, untreated in these populations.
According to NIMH, twice as many women as men suffer from depression. Scientists think that menstruation, pregnancy, puberty, menopause and miscarriage increase their risk of depression.
Treatment of Depression
Medical practitioners have in the past recommended a combination of medication and talking treatment that are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MCT)
- Positive Psychology
- Narrative Therapy
- Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
The type of treatment that you doctor will recommend depends on the kind of depression that affects you.
Latest Approaches to Depression Treatment
For many years, depression has been considered as a biological condition with medication as the most commonly recommended approach to treatment. But drugs don’t suit every person. Thus, researchers are trying different approaches such as clinical hypnosis and brain stimulation.
Some specialists have employed clinical hypnosis, and the results have been positive. Hypnosis as a process of focusing encourages the patient towards a greater willingness and flexibility to have experiences that supersede feelings or rationality. It helps the patient to connect and develop the best part of himself or herself.
Other researchers are investigating the potential on neuroscience-based techniques such as Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS). TDCS uses a tiny electrical current, 500th of the current used in Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). It is a non-invasive procedure that gently stimulates the brain surface through electrodes that are placed on both sides of the patient’s head. Scientists understand that when you are depressed, the frontal part of your brain becomes less active while the other parts are overactive such as the areas involved in processing emotions. Therefore, TDCS can correct this type of imbalance.
Some specialists are using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). This process uses magnetic pulses to stimulate parts of the brain responsible for regulating mood. Unlike shock therapy or electroconvulsive treatment, it does not cause seizures. During the TMS procedure, the patient sits comfortably with a large magnet placed on the left side of the head. The basis of this method is that the pulsed magnetic field creates an electric current that resets the patient’s mood-regulating system.
Scientists have suggested for a revision of the attitude towards depression and not to merely focus on the biology of depression. Medical professionals should also consider what happens on the psychological and social levels of depression, and embrace a holistic approach to treatment of depression.