Getting to know depression up close

In Spain it is estimated that depression affects twice as many women as men, 10 women to 5 men. Depression is the most common mental illness and one of the main causes of disability.

The risk of suffering a cardiovascular disease is twice as high in people with a depressive disorder and people with chronic pathologies also present twice the risk of having a depressive illness.

Contrary to popular belief, depression can appear at any age.

Depression is a term easily used, even loosely, to refer to sadness. But depression is more than the sadness that everyone can have or experience at some point in their life, in response to some life event/event, some life event.

Depression is deeper, darker and longer lasting than the feeling of sadness and lasts from weeks to months, rather than hours to days.

It is important to break the myth that depression is an imaginary problem, since it is really a disease with specific symptoms, a biological basis, such as hypertension or diabetes, in which there is an alteration in the normal functioning of the brain.

What symptoms characterize depression?

  • Low mood
  • Sadness
  • Difficulty in falling asleep
  • Tiredness
  • Disappointment
  • Feelings of guilt and low self-esteem
  • Difficulty enjoying things
  • Anger and frustration

The symptoms described above interfere in people’s daily lives and affect each and every area of their lives (work, personal, social, etc.). One of the major effects of depression is depressed mood and loss of interest or pleasure, discouragement in doing things and loss of desire to be around people.

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What are its causes?

Depression is a multifactorial disease, where genetic, biological and psychosocial factors emerge.

  • Biological factors: there is an alteration in the function of certain neurotransmitters: serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. The mechanism of action of antidepressants is related to the regulation of these neurotransmitters in the brain.
  • Genetic factors: the existence of depression in first-degree relatives is associated with an increased risk of developing depression in their descendants. However, not all those with a history of depression will develop depression.
  • Psychosocial factors: recent traumatic stressful life events increase the risk of depression.

Diagnosis and course

Depression is diagnosed mainly through a clinical interview. There are currently no psychological tests to confirm depression, nor are there any neuroimaging tests capable of predicting it.

For a proper diagnosis, it is very important to pay attention to small changes as they occur, since the onset of depression is not sudden, but occurs gradually. The duration of a depressive episode can vary between 6 and 9 months.

Usually, all symptoms disappear with treatment, although there is a risk of developing another depressive episode after full recovery. This is why early diagnosis and treatment is so important to avoid chronicity.

Complications

  • Suicide.

More than 15% of people with depression have thought about taking their own life at some time.

  • It increases the risk of physical illness.

Depression is a mental illness with physical repercussions.

  • Anxiety is common in people with depression.

Anxiety is common in patients with depression. It is common for patients with depression to experience generalized worry about things, or to have nonspecific physical complaints such as muscle aches or pains, headaches, altered bowel rhythms, feelings of inner tension, muscle aches and problems resting.

  • Drug and alcohol abuse.
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People with depression have a higher risk of drug or alcohol abuse and vice versa.

Is it possible to prevent it?

There are certain guidelines that can improve the course of the disease:

  • Awareness of the symptoms to ask for help early.
  • Good adherence to mediation, continuing treatment for prolonged periods of time. Following the doctor’s guidelines.
  • Maintaining healthy lifestyle habits, being exquisite in the rhythm of sleep – wakefulness.
  • To practice sport assiduously, it produces an increase of endorphins.
  • Do not consume toxic substances.

Depression can be treated with pharmacological treatment and/or psychotherapy. Undoubtedly, the best results are achieved with the combination of both, although the treatment of depression is personalized for each patient.

The types of psychotherapy most frequently evaluated in the treatment of depression are cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. The main idea on which cognitive-behavioral therapy is based is that a person’s mood is directly related to his or her thought patterns. Interpersonal therapy analyzes the relationships between the patient and his or her psychosocial context.

Pharmacology, what are antidepressants and how do they work?

In terms of pharmacology, the clinical (therapeutic) effects of antidepressants do not begin to be noticed until after 2 to 4 weeks of treatment and for the therapeutic effect to be complete, at least 8 weeks are needed.

There are several erroneous beliefs about antidepressants, but it should be emphasized that they are drugs that do not produce addiction or dependence, nor do they change people’s personality.