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Depression - Diagnosis and Treatment

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Depression: Diagnosis and Treatment

Many people in the world suffer with mood disorders, such as depression, or depressive disorder. It is the most common psychological disorder and its symptoms are often subtle. In America, 3.4% of Americans suffer from major depression and 9% of Americans reported that they are occasionally depressed (Hendrick, 2010). People suffering with depression have difficulty performing their daily routines and have a difficult time recovering from the disorder. Therefor it is important to identify depression and seek treatment prior to letting it affect lives.

Often depression is mistaken with "feeling down" and the disorder goes undiagnosed. This leads to the questions "What is depression?" Symptoms of depression include overwhelming sadness, the loss of interest in activities, feelings of worthlessness and experiencing excessive guilt and even thoughts of suicide. Often depression is accompanied with psychosomatic disorder, an illness with valid physical basis caused by anxiety and stress (Morris & Maisto, 2005). This causes symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems or other physical complaints that do not go away or subside with treatment. People experiencing these problems must seek medical help from a professional.

The physician may use written screening tests, such as the Beck Depression Inventory, and ask about recent events in the patient's life, as well as family history of depression. This will determine the degree and frequency of the symptoms, as well as the severity of the depression. The physician will also want to evaluate preexisting life threatening conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes and cancer, which often lead to depression. A physical exam is also necessary to check for any unknown medical issues that may be the cause of depression (Hook, 2010). In the future, physicians may be able to use an electrocardiogram, or ECG, to diagnose depression. Researchers at Monash University's Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia have developed a method to diagnose people with central nervous system disorders within an hour (Nauert, 2009).

There are many different methods of treatment for depression. They vary from antidepressant medications, electroconvulsive therapy, and psychotherapy including interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

There are several different types of antidepressants, but majority of the antidepressants are in the following classes: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs; serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs; tricyclic antidepressants, or TCAs; and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs. Doctors prescribing these medications must determine which drug will be most suitable for the patient, as each patient's depression can be cause by different neurotransmitters and the physician may even prescribe a combination of drugs. The three neurotransmitters that can cause depression due to an imbalance are norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine (Chang, 2011).

Antidepressants also have a downfall; one out of every five people taking antidepressants experience withdrawal after discontinuing use. Researchers are still unclear as to why this happens, because they are not supposed to be addictive. Some believe that discontinuing the medication abruptly



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