Depression is a chronic psychological condition that affects a person physically, as well as emotionally. The word 'debilitating' means a condition wherein strength and vitality get severely impaired. In case of a person affected by debilitating depression, one's ability to lead a normal life is severely affected.
Stress, traumatic life events, genetic factors, medical conditions that are characterized by malfunctioning of the neurotransmitters, etc., are some of the contributing factors. Long-term treatment is required for helping the affected individuals.
The psychological manifestations are:
- The person may have a constant feeling of sadness or unhappiness that is fueled with extreme hopelessness.
- The sufferer may not show any interest in activities which he/she used to enjoy earlier.
- He/she may exhibit anger or frustration over petty issues.
- He/she might have reduced or no sex drive.
- Extreme loss of appetite might result rapid weight loss. However, in some people, the symptom may be otherwise.
- Affected individuals might suffer from lack of sleep or abnormal sleepiness.
- Major depressive disorder brings about a constant spell of restlessness in the person, which makes him/her indecisive.
- It is common for the affected people to have a late reaction to body movements, speech, and thoughts.
- He/she might have suicidal thoughts and crying spells for no apparent reason.
Physical manifestations include unexplained fatigue, low energy levels, back pain, or headaches.
The treatment methods encompass the use of medications and psychological counseling. The standard classes of drugs that are prescribed include:
- Atypical antidepressants
- Drugs for anxiety
- Drugs for stabilizing mood
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
Doctors recommend drugs after analyzing the patient's condition. When it comes to treating a case of severe depression, the importance of counseling cannot be undermined. The expert tries to understand the mental state of the patient, and talks to the patient during these sessions, providing a channel through which the patient vents his/her emotions.
The aim of psychotherapy is to change the negative thoughts and behavior of the patient, and help him/her learn ways to cope with situations that might be depressing. Above all, experts help the patient set realistic goal for himself/herself in life, which is important to face the real world.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a method wherein electric current is passed through the brain, in order to target the neurotransmitters in the area. In most cases, this therapy has been able to provide immediate relief from the symptoms. This method is usually preserved for patients who have not shown any improvement even with the help of medications.
Vagus nerve stimulation is another method wherein electric impulses are fed to the brain, with an attempt to affect the mood centers. This method is also employed, when other conservative treatment options have not worked. In another therapy called transcranial magnetic stimulation, powerful surges of magnetic flux are used for improving the symptoms.
Besides following the guidelines provided by the doctors, patients or their family members can take several self-care measures at home to prevent the condition of the depressed individual from worsening. This includes, to identify the symptoms and ensure that the patient stays physically active, gets enough sleep and abstains from smoking, alcohol and drugs.
Disclaimer: The provided information is for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.