Depression, which affects millions of people all over the world, ranges in severity. Its mildest form is described simply as having the blues, while the most severe form of depression can push one to the edge of sanity. In many cases, the severe form of depression can be fatal.
Mild depression happens to every one of us. Sometimes we don’t really know the reason behind it. We just feel so “out of it”. Individuals who suffer from this type of depression appear gloomy and sad. Some may have decreased energy levels and self-confidence; others become inattentive.
But the thing about mild depression is that it goes away without any treatment, although some may resort to mood-lifting activities such as window-shopping, maybe, or pampering one’s self. After a few days, one can normally bounce back to his or her normal self.
Chronic depression is a more serious form of depression. It manifests in signs and symptoms that already affect one’s physical and mental well-being, as well as social and personal relationships. People with chronic depression typically:
- Have poor sleeping patterns. They may oversleep or not sleep at all.
- Have poor eating habits. They may resort to comfort foods, go on a food binge, eat very little or not eat at all.
- Have low sex drive.
- Become less productive at work, costing them their job or creating another problem in the process.
These signs and symptoms happen over the course of two years, and require a combination of psychotherapy and medications to remedy the problem. Without proper treatment, this form of depression can develop into schizophrenia, a mental disorder whereby the sufferer hallucinates and becomes paranoid or even delusional.
Major Depressive Disorder
The most severe form of depression is called major depressive disorder. Patients with this mood disorder:
- Are severely withdrawn
- Have poor concentration
- May look malnourished
- May have suicidal tendencies
A major depressive disorder requires proper care and treatment. Professional management of the signs and symptoms is necessary. Psychotherapy, along with the right medications, can prove to be of great help in reducing the signs and symptoms, as well as the possibility of depression of this nature to recur.
Psychotherapy will be recommended to patients manifesting signs and symptoms of chronic depression and major depressive disorder. Individuals with mild depression may not seek psychotherapy, but talking to a counselor can help ease their feelings.
Psychotherapy aims to help individuals:
- Identify the factors that have triggered the depression.
- Create short-term and long-term goals to cope with depression.
- Develop coping mechanism and techniques.
- Regain self-worth.
There are different approaches of conducting psychotherapy:
- Individualized. An individualized session is an interaction between only the patient and the therapist.
- Group. Group sessions are conducted to two or more clients at the same time. What’s good about this is that clients can interact with each other, sharing problems, thoughts, and experiences. In a sense, this helps them realize that they are not the only ones suffering from depression.
- Family. Family sessions have the family as part of the therapy. Members of the family are invited to be involved or participate in the sessions for them to come to a better understanding of their role in their loved one’s healing process.
In more severe cases of depression, the following medications may be prescribed:
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors. MAOIs are antidepressants that are usually given when other forms of antidepressants fail to produce results. However, these drugs can react negatively with other drugs and even foods like cheese and wine.
- Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors. SNRIs work by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
Depression can be mild or severe, and although there are people who have greater tendencies of developing the more severe forms of depression, it shouldn’t hurt to take the necessary preventive or controlling measures. Eating right and taking essential vitamins, especially the B vitamins, can be of great help in preventing depression, controlling it, and reducing its impact on your health.