Friday, March 15, 2013

Severe Depression at Its Best and Worst

In its worst stages depression becomes severe depression. Until it's so severe that months or even years of treatment are required, most people do nothing about it. Depression of some type afflicts 15 million people in the USA annually. Unfortunately 2/3 of these people never seek medical treatments. They try to hide it, wish it away, because of fear of being labeled crazy or insane. But there's no good fairy to magic away severe depression. Those who suffer this disease have no control over it and the condition will only get worse with time.

Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either: (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure. (Note: Do not include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition, or mood-incongruent delusions or hallucinations.)

* depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.
* markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others)
* significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains.
* insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
* psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down)
* fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
* feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
* diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others)
* recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideas without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide

Many sufferers won't admit they show the signs of this condition. Severe Depression is no reflection on you as a human being. You're still a full person. Depression is a disease like any other disease. Medical aid is required. The normal symptoms of depression are multiplied in severe cases. Everything associated with the illness becomes more intense. It becomes harder to deal with every day situations. Negative feelings intensify to make you a total loner. This disease can't be avoided. But it can be addressed. Early detection is vital to success.

When you hear the term severe depression, it merely means the depression is severe enough to require treatment. When a person is badly depressed during a single severe period, he or she can be said to have had an episode of clinical depression. More severe symptoms mark the period as an episode of major depression (also known as unipolar depression and major depressive disorder). Many mental health experts say the key to judging this gradation lies in the amount of change a person undergoes in his or her normal patterns along with a loss of interest and a lack of pleasure in them. An almost-daily tennis player, for instance, who began to break her court dates frequently, or a regular bridge player who lost interest in weekly games, might be edging into an episode of major depression. The more severe the depression, the more it is likely to affect its sufferer's life.

Diagnosis and treatment require an expert eye to notice the signs of depression. Depression is associated with many symptoms. A transparent one is that the sufferer will withdraw into themselves. They find it hard to deal with those around them. Hopelessness, helplessness and even remorse consume them. They are constantly agitated and irritable. It's been known to have a patient claim the devil speaks to him in severe cases. Suicide often becomes a way out for victims of severe depression. Only treatment and the support of family and friends can help.

The diagnosis of major depressive disorder is based on the patient's self-reported experiences and behavior reported by relatives or friends. There is no laboratory test for major depression, although physicians generally test for physical conditions that may cause similar symptoms. The course of the disorder varies widely, from a once-only occurrence to a lifelong disorder with recurrent major depressive episodes. The most common time of onset is between the ages of 30 and 40 years, with a later peak between 50 and 60 years. Major depression occurs more often in women than men, although men are at higher risk for suicide.

Severe Depression is a terrible disease. Those who suffer it cannot live normal lives, as they once knew it. Losing the ability to control your own life is terrible. Treatment is the only option.
Depression often co-exists with other illnesses. Such illnesses may precede the depression, cause it, and/or be a consequence of it. It is likely that the mechanics behind the intersection of depression and other illnesses differ for every person and situation. Regardless, these other co-occurring illnesses need to be diagnosed and treated.

Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder, often accompany depression. People experiencing PTSD are especially prone to having co-occurring depression. PTSD is a debilitating condition that can result after a person experiences a terrifying event or ordeal, such as a violent assault, a natural disaster, an accident, terrorism or military combat.

People with PTSD often re-live the traumatic event in flashbacks, memories or nightmares. Other symptoms include irritability, anger outbursts, intense guilt, and avoidance of thinking or talking about the traumatic ordeal. In a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded study, researchers found that more than 40 percent of people with PTSD also had depression at one-month and four-month intervals after the traumatic event.

Typically, anti-depressants and 'talk therapy' are prescribed to treat depression. Discussing the issues in a support group can also be effective. Once victims seek treatment they can be put on the road to a better life. They can again be the ruler of their own domain. But first the illness must be admitted and treatment sought.

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