Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the world. It affects a few percent of all humanity and more frequently women than men. This disease significantly reduces the quality of life and hinders the daily functioning of those affected. Therefore, treating depression is key to your quest for happiness and peace. Depending on the severity, depression may be milder, moderate or severe. Any form of this disease requires consultation with a psychiatrist.

How does depression manifest itself?

Depression is a mood disorder that manifests itself in a long-lasting and persistent feeling of sadness, emptiness and meaninglessness in life. People affected by this disease may be apathetic and passive, or vice versa – irritable, nervous, irritated by other people or the outside world . People with a mood disorder lose their joy in life. Situations or activities that have so far brought happiness, a feeling of lightness, suddenly become neutral for the patient. People with depression often give up their passions, and in more severe cases also from work and social life.

Patients struggle with a notorious lack of energy and strength to act. Sleep disturbs – too long rest for several hours, or vice versa, restless or prematurely interrupted sleep. Patients develop suicidal thoughts, which do not always correspond to the actual intention to take their own life. However, in severe depression, there is self-harm and suicide attempts. Despite current treatments, depression very often goes undiagnosed. Unfortunately, the lack of the help of a psychiatrist may result in the aggravation of the disease, and this is a danger for the patient himself. Treatment of depression – pharmacological or psychotherapy – is very important.

The causes of depression

The background of the disease is complex and it is not fully known. However, there are three groups of causes of depression. These are biological, psychological and social causes. The biological include, for example, genetic factors. It was observed that the risk of developing depression is higher in families where a member struggled with a mood disorder. One of the most important biological factors of depression are irregularities in the process of neurotransmission. Disturbances in the secretion and transport of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline were observed in patients. Treating depression with antidepressants helps to stabilize the levels of these substances. The biological reasons include hormonal disorders, e.g. in the secretion of the stress hormone. The lobes of the brain responsible for feeling emotions also play an important role.

One of the psychological reasons is the ability to cope with stress. People who cannot cope with difficult situations are at greater risk of developing depression. Therefore, it is very important to teach children to cope with stress from an early age. Breathing exercises based on long, gentle inhalations and exhalations allow you to cope better in a stressful situation or during a panic attack. A very important factor causing depression are traumatic, negative life experiences. In about half of patients, such situations trigger a depressive episode, i.e. a state in which symptoms of depression appear and persist for at least two weeks. People who struggle with anxiety as a personality trait are also more likely to become ill.

Social reasons can also be a cause of depression, although to a much lesser extent than biological and psychological ones. Such reasons include loneliness and lack of support from close people, rejection by family or friends  . Low social status can also cause the disease, which contributes to problems with self-esteem.

The most popular treatments for depression

Treating depression is a complex process that must be supervised by a doctor. Pharmacological methods are most often used, due to the fact that depression is very often caused by inappropriate secretion of neurotransmitters. Drugs for depression stimulate the level of substances responsible for the patient’s well-being at a stable and correct level. Antidepressants should be used in accordance with the recommendations of a psychiatrist, i.e. every day at fixed times. It is worth remembering that such drugs do not work right away. Also, they must not be abruptly discontinued, as this can cause increased side effects. In the case of severe depression, e.g. when the patient is unable to take medications on his own, hospitalization is required.

Another method is psychotherapy – it is very effective in mild depression. It is also used in parallel with pharmacotherapy. The most commonly used therapy is behavioral-cognitive therapy. An important element of treatment is psychoeducation itself, i.e. making the patient and his environment aware of the source of depression, treatment and prognosis. The family, on the other hand, can learn to help, or at least not harm, a loved one who is depressed. The support of relatives is very important in this disease.