Depression is a serious illness that affects all aspects of your life, including the way you sleep or eat, your education or career, and your family and friendships. It can also affect your health and concentration. Psychiatrists are specially trained to treat this disorder. They can help you feel better by combining medication and psychotherapy (talk therapy). It’s important to seek treatment for depression as soon as possible, because it can have a negative impact on your daily life.
There’s no one cause of depression, but a combination of factors may contribute to it. For example, upsetting or stressful events such as a relationship breakdown, bereavement, a severe illness or redundancy can sometimes bring on depression. This is because they can trigger feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem, leading to an inability to cope with everyday problems.
It’s also thought that an imbalance of brain chemicals can play a role in depression. Some of these chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, may interfere with the normal function of nerve circuits that control mood. Recent research suggests that changes in hormones may also play a part. For example, hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and in the weeks or months after it (postpartum) and those associated with menopause or thyroid problems can make people more vulnerable to depression. It’s also thought that certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem or being overly critical, can increase the risk of depression. It’s also believed that depression is more common in people who have a close relative who has had it.
People with depression often become withdrawn and isolate themselves. They’re less likely to socialize and may be irritable, vengeful or angry. It’s possible to have a depressive episode without any obvious trigger, and once you’ve had a depression, you’re at risk of having more episodes in the future.
Symptoms of depression include feeling down or low, a lack of interest in daily activities, sleeping more than usual or having trouble falling asleep. It’s also possible to have a change in appetite and thoughts, such as thinking about suicide or having suicidal ideations. In more severe cases, depression can lead to psychosis, which is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.
The good news is that depression can be treated. Treatment usually includes psychotherapy and antidepressant medications, and a combination of the two is most effective. Psychotherapy helps you to challenge and change unhealthy emotions, beliefs and behaviors that may be contributing to your depression. There are different types of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. You can also benefit from group therapy, which involves talking with other people who are experiencing the same illness.
You might want to consider taking part in a clinical trial, which is a research study that tests new ways to prevent or treat disease, including depression. Clinical trials have led to the development of many of the treatments we use today. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before deciding whether or not to take part in a trial.