Definition of depression
The symptoms of depression are sadness, feelings of hopelessness or guilt, sleeplessness, lack of energy, loss of weight, deterioration of physical health, mood, sexual drive/urge, relationships with family, friends and colleagues. Diminished level of activities like household activities, activities related to profession or study and activities of leisure time. The origin of depression is mind.
Causes of depression
So far no decisive causes of depression have been identified but it is believed that depression can occur because of genetic, biochemical and environmental reasons.
Genetically acquired depression or inherited depression occurs in a biological family and is observed in the family from one generation to another.
Biochemical depression is associated with decreased levels of monoamine in chronic depressive patients, although not a primary cause. In persons with depression, neurotransmitters (a naturally occurring chemical of brain) were altered. This may also occur because of symptoms of depression like lack of sleep or loss of weight. Some medications also cause depression as an adverse reaction and patient on such drugs should be closely supervised.
Environmental depression occurs because of perceived unfavorable social and professional. Stressful situations like loss of job, death of family member or financial crisis can precipitate depression. Development of normal emotional health can be obstructed because of the incidences of neglect in the childhood, sexual and physical abuse, or disregarding treatment. Major chronic diseases like cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, cardiac diseases also can precipitate depression.
Treatment of depression
There are various approaches available to the treatment of depression in the present time such as medication, psychodynamic therapy, behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, cognitive therapy, sleep hygiene, exercise etc.
There are several types of antidepressant drugs available like tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, heterocyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This list is chronological with reference to introduction of drugs. Newer drugs offer better patient compliance.
Treatment using appropriate drug combined with cognitive and interpersonal therapy has proved most successful in the treatment of depression.
Specific psychological treatments like cognitive and interpersonal therapy have proved to be as effective as drugs.
There is no authentic evidence that one form of treatment is superior to other (durg or non-drug), but there are some evidence that combination of drug and psychological treatment may be useful in severe cases of depression but not in mild to moderate cases.
Treatment of depression requires clinical skill and experience and therefore must be taken under the supervision of qualified professional. Self-medication can prove very dangerous to the personality of the patient of depression.
Since the origin of depression is mind, many doctors have found practice of meditation useful in the management of depression.
Variety of research have shown that conditions like chronic stress, neglect, and abuse, produce functional changes in the brain that are likely to be accompanied by structural changes. Researches on depression have revealed that patients with mood disorders exhibit structural differences in several regions of brain. Some of these differences are believed to be in association with cumulative number of days of depression. The report on these types of researches indicate the viability of development of a therapy for depression that are specifically designed to cultivate positive qualities, like equanimity and developing an affectionate attitude which are known to produce beneficial alterations in brain function and structure. It has been proved that a practice of meditation embedded with conceptual ideas for 2-month can produce alterations in brain activity.
Based on these observations, the practice of meditation is also being successfully used either as integrative therapy or alone for the treatment of depression. The one such type which is widely recommended is Vipassana mediation.