In any given year, about 10 percent of the United States population experiences some form of depression, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Despite its prevalence, only one half of the individuals struggling will seek help. Jerry Davis, Ph.D., Clinical Programs Manager, Parkview Behavioral Health, gives us an overview of the condition, including symptoms and treatment options.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can experience depression. Current research suggests that the mental disorder is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Family history may increase an individual’s risk, but it’s not the sole cause of the disease. Major life stressors, trauma and certain physical illnesses can also be contributing factors, and it can co-occur with other medical issues such as chronic pain or heart attacks. Depression can be experienced at any age, but it’s more common in middle-age and older adults, with the highest reported age group being ages 30-44 years, and it’s 50 percent more likely to appear in women than in men.
What are the symptoms of depression?
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
How is depression treated?
Depression responds well to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on cognitive restructuring. It may also respond well to interpersonal therapy, with an emphasis on therapeutic relationships. More serious symptoms may need both medication and therapy. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), are the most common medications for depression, for example: Prozac®, Zoloft®, Celexa and others. Other classes of medications that are FDA approved for the treatment of depression include Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), and Dopamine Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (DNRIs).