Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Diagnosing Clinical Depression - The Official Guide

In a recent article, we had a very general look at depression; comparing the symptoms to other mental conditions and showing how careful doctors must be to make certain they diagnose the correct illness.

We also had a look at how cures appear to have come full circle from Anton Mesmer's day to the present, with the FDA approving the use of magnets to 'cure' depression.

We have the vision of some poor individual with a couple of whacking great ingots of iron on either side of their face, wires going everywhere, and eyes going in circles. A good cartoonist would have a field day with this!

Now, on to diagnosing clinical depression. I'm listing this 'official' guide for the diagnosis for depression in a rather truncated form, in part because I don't want to copy it word for word, and also because it makes for pretty dry reading. There are nine symptoms in all, and they're prefaced by the following.

'Five or more of the following symptoms have been present during the same two week period and represent a change from previous functioning. (i.e. prior to the depression setting in). At least one of the symptoms is either depressed mood or loss of interest in pleasurable pastimes.

1. Being in a depressed mood for most of the day, nearly every day.

2. Markedly diminished interest in (almost?) all activities which were previously enjoyed.

3. Provided you're not on a diet, then significant weight loss or weight gain may be experienced. The patient's appetite decreases.

4. Insomnia or hypersomnia, (oversleeping), nearly every night.

5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day. (The patient either shows increased energy through agitation or their pace slows right down).

6. Fatigue and loss of energy every day.

7. Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt.

8. Diminished ability to think and concentrate.

9. Ideation of suicide. (This has to be most carefully watched. All firearms should be hidden, as should as many poisons as possible, although of course there are so many household cleaners that may be used. My personal view is that the patient should be hospitalized as soon as clinical depression is diagnosed, if only for their own safety).

The comments in brackets are my own, either by way of explanation, or through personal experience.

Now, it goes on to state that 'depression can be diagnosed if the symptoms cannot be attributed to bereavement.'

Grieving is a natural response, so therefore depression is simply an out-of-place natural response. So what about the idea that depression is caused by some chemical imbalance in the brain? Wouldn't that make the feelings accompanying bereavement a chemical imbalance in the brain too?

Take it a step or two further and it makes all our emotions chemical imbalances.

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