Archive | June, 2017

2 Minute Self Diagnosis Depression Test

Depression Test

If there was just a simple depression test you could take in order to figure out whether or not you’re depressed. It would be nice to go in, have some blood taken and get your results back the following week, but it doesn’t exactly work like that. Depression is a mental illness that is taking over many people …

Depression Isn’t Uncommon

Recent years have seen a shift in the consciousness surrounding mental health. People have become more aware of the different issues regarding mental illness, and have become more attuned to the presence of these illnesses in society. Though stigma hasn’t completely been eradicated, rising levels of acceptance have come to the forefront to battle the negative effects of discrimination and ridicule.
In light of the rising rates of mental illness sweeping the globe, it’s vital that we educate ourselves and make ourselves aware of the struggles many people have begun to face in order to be able to help those who are too afraid to speak out about their experiences.
These days, it is no longer uncommon to know someone, be related to someone, or to be someone struggling with depression. Knowledge about the condition is extremely important in helping yourself and others cope with and recover from the condition.

What is Depression?

In the past, it was enough for people to chalk depression up to hormones, or to describe it simply as being sad. Today, however, these simplistic ideas about the condition aren’t nearly enough anymore. Misconceptions regarding the condition can actually be harmful, so we always need to be cautious when faced with different ideas presented as the “truth” particularly exaggerated representations of mental illness that are prevalent in popular culture.
Life can be difficult, and we all go through different challenges that can make us feel down or sad. We aren’t always going to be happy, and that’s completely normal. Feeling upset because of the different problems life present isn’t depression. But, if this sadness persists day after day, week after or week, or even months on end, then depression may actually be at play.

How Do They Diagnose Depression?

Since there is no depression test, exactly how do they diagnose depression? Depression is officially described as sadness or low mood levels lasting for at least two weeks, accompanied by other distinct symptoms.
Further, depression is much more severe than having the blues; the condition is disruptive and can impede an individual from performing daily tasks and activities.
There are different diagnostic parameters, all of which can be found in a manual (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) used by mental health professionals to diagnose different mental illnesses.
In the DSM-IV, depression is said to be present when the individual experiences at least 5 of the following symptoms:

• Low moods, at least (especially in the morning)
• Persistent fatigue
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt on almost a daily basis
• Difficulties in concentration, sleep (lack of sleep or sleeping excessively), and decision making
• Lack of interest and pleasure in activities an individual used to find interesting (on almost a daily basis)
• Suicidal thoughts or engaging in risky behavior that is destructive/life-threatening
• Restlessness/Laziness
• Significant weight changes (loss or gain)

The manual also states that aside from these symptoms being present, these must not be caused by any ingested medicine, substance, or physical illness.
Further, when these symptoms occur within two months of losing a loved one, they are not considered indications of depression but rather normal reactions to a tragic event.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, unlike most illnesses, depression can’t be diagnosed by specialized blood or laboratory tests. Therefore, mental health care professionals have developed ways to diagnose the conditions via in-depth interviews and written tests. Interviews are considered the most useful tool for diagnosis, given that these give the psychiatrist great insight into the patient’s state of health, their specific experiences involving the symptoms of the condition, their personality, and other relevant details. Furthermore, there are many things that can be revealed during an interview that won’t come out on a test; like verbal reports on a patient’s daily moods, routines, and lifestyle.

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Depression – Are You Really Depressed?

Depression Comes and Life Goes?

Depression bites. We’re sorry, but there is no other way to put it. It's a gross, heavy, disgusting monster that feels like a parasite that saps all of your life energy to sustain itself. If you are living with depression, you can probably admit you are in a vicious cycle. You want to crawl out of your depressed state, but most of the things that would possibly help just take too much energy and motivation, which you have none of because you are... well, depressed.

Then you feel guilty about not doing those things that seem so easy for other people, which zaps you even more and drives you deeper into depression. It is not fun one bit, nothing about it is fun and we understand that it probably makes you feel pretty frustrated.   That's okay. Right now, you don't need to feel confident or hopeful. We will be confident in you right now and you can pick up the reigns later. We know that you can get through this. My confidence in you is not misplaced or unfounded.

You're a brilliant human being and we hope you give us the chance to prove it to you. Consider this: you are exhausted, right? Feeling like every single thing you do takes 1000% more effort because you have this annoying personal black cloud over your head as well as a backpack full of 100 heavy bricks that you carry around all day?

When Depression brings its host of effects?

Alright, so, many of you are probably not sure whether or not the crappy feelings you are having qualify as a depression. We tend to throw around the term depression pretty casually here in the USA.

You might hear someone say that they are depressed when their sports team blows it or when their favorite musical group loses a member. This points to one of the annoying things about depression: it is an emotion and it is also the name of a disorder.

What we mean is, you can feel depressed without having depression. Throw in the fact that depression does not look the same for everyone and this shit can get really confusing.

Let’s try to clear it up a bit.   Have you ever lost a family member or favorite pet? Have you ever completely bombed a test that you needed to do well on in order to get the grade you wanted in a class? Have you broken up with a significant other? I could keep going, but what I am trying to get at is the fact that we have all encountered periods of sadness in our lives. What is distinct about the sadness that follows these sorts of events is that it is “reactional” in nature.

That means you have gone through some shit and your heart is really heavy as a result. You might even have been more than “just a little sad.” Maybe you were having a hard time eating, crying almost constantly, and feeling completely drained of your energy. It is common for difficult circumstances to throw you into a sort of temporary depression.

This is a good thing. It means that you are a good human and that you cared about the issue in the first place. We run into trouble when our overwhelming feelings of sadness extend beyond the immediate situation. If the situation resolves and you still find yourself in the throes of these feelings, you might need to take a step back and evaluate whether you might be depressed.

Of course, many of you are probably here because you are in a similar emotional state, seemingly for no reason. Nobody died, and objectively things are not all that bad, but you just can’t seem to stop feeling like garbage. In fact, that probably fuels the depressive fire even more. That knowledge that things could be worse.

Depending on your circumstances and who you ask, there very well may be a reason for this depressed state you find yourself in … it just might take some digging to find it.

Even if you feel you have no reason to be in such bad shape, it is important, to be honest with yourself and consider the possibility that something clinically significant might be going on here.    And we can’t neglect to mention the people who have an easily identifiable reason for their depression. Trauma, abusive relationships, extreme poverty, a never ending series of tragedies… all of these things are good reasons to feel depressed. It’s tough because these circumstances are not really “your fault.”

 

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Depression Definition – It’s Time to Get a Grip on the Definition

Depression Definition

According to the dictionary, depression can be defined as 1. Feelings of severe despondency and dejection.  That’s a pretty vague depression definition, isn’t it? Seriously, with something THIS big, we need to develop a clear understanding of exactly what it is.

Depression is such a common issue that any definition you find will be relatively similar. These are the current DSM criteria for a major depressive episode. You need to have five or more of these symptoms that occur during the same two-week period and represent a change from previous functioning. At least one of your symptoms has to be depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure:

  • Depressed mood for most of the day, nearly every day. In children or adolescents, this can look more like irritable mood.
  • Lowered interest or pleasure in nearly all activities for most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain (change in 5% of body weight in a month) when you haven’t been intentionally changing your diet or a decrease in appetite, nearly every day.
  • Insomnia (not sleeping enough) or hypersomnia (sleeping way too much), nearly every day.
  • Either speeding (agitation) up or slowing (retardation) down of your activities, as noticed by other people.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy, nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or over-the-top guilt, nearly every day.
  • Trouble with thinking or concentrating, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal thoughts without a particular plan, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for committing suicide.

 

For your experience to qualify as a major depressive episode, these symptoms need to be disrupting some important area of functioning such as your ability to operate socially or work effectively at school or your job. These symptoms also can’t be due to the effects of drugs, medicine, or a medical condition. Certain medications can have a depressant effect, which is definitely a valid experience, but it is considered to be separate from a major depressive episode.

What’s with this phrase “depressive episode?” A huge number of people have a major depressive episode at some point in their lives. This is at least a two week period in which you meet those criteria that we just talked about. A smaller, but still way too large number of people experience major depressive disorder, which means that they have a pattern of recurrent depressive episodes across a portion of their lifetime. You can think of it as being similar to an eating disorder. You can have an episode of starving yourself, but that does not necessarily make you meet criteria for anorexia. It is the recurrent behavior over time that qualifies it as a psychological disorder.

Depression Isn’t the Same for Everyone

We would like to talk a bit about the fact that depression is not the same for every individual. It is difficult to stick to the books and convey what we are trying to say about this, so please forgive us if we draw a bit more from personal experience than research here. One of the things that persistently upsets depressed people is when they meet a mental health professional who instantly groups them into a very specific category in their mind.

Stereotypical Versions of Depression

Perhaps one of the more stereotypical versions of depression is what we like to call the “sorrowful” subtype. This one looks a lot like active grief. The way we can typically identify someone in this mode is by asking whether they find themselves crying at literally everything. The wrong commercial comes on, you hear a song that makes you feel all the feels, the wind changes… you hardly need an excuse to shed some tears. It’s like you’re on the verge of breaking down 24/7. This version of depression really sucks because it’s not exactly the type that you can hide easily. Not so awesome when you are trying to hold it together at work. You’re just so sad that it almost literally aches in your heart. Often times, people start out with this type of depression and take it from there.

Conclusion

When you first start to feel the stings of depression and start to question yourself and everything around you, it can be a really painful sting. If you feel depressed, it is important that you seek help before you sink deeper.

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Depression Treatment – What’s Available?

Before anything, a psychiatrist should first be contacted prior to taking any other steps. This mental health professional helps the patient work through their experiences, identify the type of depression present, and to choose and modify a treatment plan to cater to the needs of the patient.

Here are some treatment options that are currently being used to alleviate depression:

#1: Antidepressants: Given that mental illnesses can likely be the effect of chemical imbalances in the brain, antidepressant medicines are often given to complement therapy and to counter these chemical abnormalities.

There are three known chemicals in the brain (called neurotransmitters) that function to regulate mood. These are norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. In people struggling with depression, these neurotransmitters may be abnormally high or abnormally low.

Different types of antidepressants function to normalize these levels in the brain.

-Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are the most common type of antidepressants used for treatment. You may have heard of some of these, such as Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, or Zoloft. The side effects associated with SSRIs are mild to moderate, depending on the person. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs, are a newer class of antidepressant that function in a way similar to SSRIs. Examples include Effexor, Cymbalta, and Pristiq.

-Tricyclic antidepressants, or TCAs, were among the first types of medication used to treat depression, and are still being used today. Examples of these include Elavil, Adapin, Sinequan, Tofranil, Pamelor, Vivactil, and Surmontil.

-Monoamin oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, were also among the first types of medication for depression, and are still being used today. These block an enzyme called monoamine oxidase, a chemical associated with a number of neurological and psychiatric conditions. Examples of MAOIs include Nardil, Parnate, and Marplan.

-Buproprion, like Wellbutrin and Aplenzin, functions to alter abnormal levels of norepinephrine and dopamine. These have mild to moderate side effects and are found to be at lower risk of causing sexual side effects.

-Vortiexone, more commonly known as Brintellix, was approved by the FDA in 2013 and is now the newest antidepressant used to regulate serotonin receptors that consequently affect other important neurotransmitter systems. Currently, this type of medication has been found to have minimal side effects and benefits that help address the cognitive symptoms associated with depression.

#2: Antipsychotics Aside from antidepressants, antipsychotics may be described in order to aid treatment. Antipsychotics have been found to be particularly helpful in the patient who struggles with resistant depression. Examples of antipsychotic medications include Abiligy, Seroquel, Symbyax, and Zyprexa.

#3: Psychotherapy & Behavioral Therapy Medication alone won’t work to battle depression, so taking antidepressants usually goes hand in hand with therapy. The purpose of both therapies is to help the individual develop and adapt feasible coping strategies to effectively deal with depression. It also helps the individual get replace negative attitudes and outlooks shaped by depression with positive ways of thinking. All of these serve not only to decrease stress, but also to enhance the efficacy of any medication being taken.

#4: Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is one option available for the treatment of severe depression. This procedure entails the application of a brief electric current to the brain via electrodes attached to the scalp while the patient is under sedation. Despite its effectiveness, ECT is only used to treat severe depression that has proven unresponsive to other forms of treatment, or when patients struggling with severe depression become threats to themselves or other people.

#5: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Device This is a device used for patients struggling with major depression that is unresponsive to medication. This method is considered the least invasive form of treatment for resistant depression. TMS differs from ECT in that it uses a magnetic field rather than an electric shock, and this magnetic field targets a specific part of the brain. The device is placed on the scalp, where it then sends pulses to stimulate nerve cells that are in charge of regulating moods. This method is considered safer but less effective than ECT.

#6: Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) This method is also used to treat individuals struggling with resistant depression. Unlike ECT and TMS, this is considered an invasive form of treatment. A device the size of the wrist watch is implanted into the patient’s chest, with its wires leading to the left vagus nerve. Electrical impulses are then coursed through the wires to this nerve, which is responsible for the passage of information between the brain and the body.

These are the most common modes of treatment used to alleviate depression. Aside from these formal treatment options, there are also other steps that can be taken in order to get the most out of them.

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