Many people suffer from depression but often disregard the importance of medical treatment as time
passed by. Depression is a mental health condition that requires special care. ST discusses the concept
and causes of depression, as well as its treatment.................................................................................................Ed
Do you have any experiences related to symptoms of depression? ST randomly selected 58 university students to investigate the actual conditions of depression. As we know from those graphs, over 80% students are feeling depressed, and over 30% of those depressed students are unable to overcome depression. In addition, when ST asked the students about the cause of their depression, the biggest reason turned out to be personal relationship, followed by grades, future, etc. There are more students who are feeling depressed than we expected, and many of them were unable to resolve their depression. For this reason, ST discusses depression, as well as its causes and treatment.
Concept of Depression
Depression is not limited to a person’s emotions only: it influences one’s whole life. When people are living their life, most of them sometimes feel happy and excited, and sometimes depressed and disappointed. Any person can feel a temporary episode of depression, but constantly feeling depressed, losing the will to live, and having difficulty in functioning every day for no reason are considered as not normal. Those latter states are known as mood disorders. What is the true definition of depression? Depression is a kind of mood disorder, and the main issue is emotional disturbance that affects people within a certain period, and it eventually influences their daily life. Depression is not only related to emotions, but it is also deeply related to physical responses, personal relationships, and thinking patterns. People who feel depressed have negative thoughts about themselves, other people, and their future. Furthermore, they are isolated and they lack self-confidence. They also have sleep disorders, in which they sleep too much or they are unable to sleep. People who are depressed may also have eating disorders, in whichthey think they are fatter than in reality. When depression becomes more serious, they may have suicidal thoughts and the urge to take their own life. Sometimes, they end their life by committing suicide. Therefore, neglecting depression without any treatment is considered as dangerous. There are famous people who had trouble with depression and ended their life by committing suicide.
Types of Depression
There are several types of depression. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which was published by the American Psychiatric Association, classifies depression as a major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder by duration, seriousness, and impact on life. Now, ST discusses the types of depression.
1) Major Depressive Disorder
First, ST discusses major depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder is a depressive disorder that we also know as depression. People with major depressive disorder experience a serious depressive mood for over two weeks, thereby affecting their whole life. The degree of depression is critical; therefore, people with major depressive disorder who experience difficulty with daily life may also have suicidal thoughts. The book ‘Psychology for Twenties’ says people with major depressive disorder are more dangerous when they have enough energy because they have the strength to attempt suicide. This is why they need the constant support of people who are close to them.
2) Dysthymic Disorder
Second, ST discusses dysthymic disorder. One of the essential standards of diagnosing dysthymic disorder is that there were more days that a person will feel depressed within a minimum of two years. This type has a chronic feature in that the depression lasts for a great part of the day. In this manner, even though the duration of dysthymic disorder is longer than that of major depressive disorder, the intensity of dysthymic disorder is lower than that of major depressive disorder. Moreover, the clinical standards of dysthymic disorder are reduced from 5 to 2. Usually, people with dysthymic disorder are better in fulfilling their daily task than the people with major depressive disorder. The feature of dysthymic disorder are similar to that of major depressive disorder. The overall loss of interest and pleasure, social shrinking, sense of guilt, regret, and decline of activity and productivity are common feelings associated with dysthymic disorder. On the other hand, changes in sleeping pattern and appetite, fluctuations in weight, and symptoms of psychomotor are less common in
dysthymic disorder than in major depressive disorder.
Causes of Depression
Depression is not only caused by a single visible cause, but it can also be attributed to a combination of factors, such as genetics, psychology, society, and biology. From a genetic point of view, depression is more likely to develop when there is a family history. It does not seem to be a major factor because there is evidence that it does not develop at all even if there is a family history of depression; however, it can develop even in a person who has no family history of depression. The major factor is psychological cause. This refers to personality defects, such as pessimistic thinking, low self-esteem, dependent personality, perfectionism, and anxiety about the event. There is also a social cause that is affected by external psychological stimulation, which is caused by shocking events (e.g., robbery, rape, loss of important things including divorce, bereavement, and death of surrounding people). The difficulties of human relationships or economic difficulties belong to biological causes, and when you lose control of the event, you may fall into depression. This is due to the hormones and neurotransmitters caused by physical diseases. When a person feels stressed, the amygdala becomes
excited and stimulates the hypothalamus. Here, the amygdala refers to a set of structures that integrate emotional information. The stimulated hypothalamus continuously secretes cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol (a substance secreted in response to acute stress) impairs the hippocampus (the learning and memory authority). Cortisol stimulates the neuron in the brain stem, which inhibits the secretion of serotonin (neuronary control of positive and negative emotions) and norepinephrine (awakening and emotional control hormones), which causes depression and chronic fatigue.
Treatment of Depression
Depression is a disease that can be treated and managed by 80% to 90%. Consultation with experts is the first step toward the treatment of depression. The treatment methods include medication and psychotherapy. Drugs include antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, thyroid hormone preparations, mood stabilizers, and anti-sickness drugs. These drugs relieve emotional problem symptoms through the improvement of the neurotransmitter ability or hormone control. The biggest side effects of depression treatment are drug dependency. In order to minimize such side effects, psychotherapy should also be performed. Psychotherapy includes cognitive therapy for cognitive system correction, interpersonal treatment for interpersonal skills, and psychodynamic therapy for analyzing the problem of unconsciousness (potential consciousness) hidden behind repeated patterns of conflict. Psychotherapy is a process in which a doctor helps a patient find a psychologically problematic part. It has a fundamental and long-term therapeutic effect even if it does not have a visible effect like a drug. Each of the different advantages and disadvantages of medication and counseling is clear; therefore, the proper combination of medication and psychotherapy are found to be an effective treatment for depression. There are some people who avoid undergoing treatment, such as depression
diagnosis and treatment record, because they are worried that they will be disadvantaged in social life. The medical records of psychiatric hospitals are legally protected, although the military or driver’s licenses have the authority to read them. Unfortunately, the general public cannot confirm them. Depression is not a time-resolved option. If you have depression, immediate care is a good option for your health and your life.
How to Help a Depressed Patient Through a Family or a Friend
1. For patients with depression, it is important to talk calmly to them without criticizing the changes
in their demeanor (including irritation, lethargy, or failure to keep your promise).
2. With careful consideration, it is important to listen to, understand, sympathize, and encourage friends who are going through difficulties in life.
3. Actively recommend treatment for depression and help convince your friend to take antidepressants in the case of moderate to severe depression.
4. It is better to help your friend express their feelings with a listening attitude rather than an early advice.
5. It is good to do various activities, such as exercise, without leaving the patient alone. However,
if you become too forceful toward the patient, they may think that you do not understand their difficulties.
6. If the patient mentions suicide, ask for details, and if the patient is at a risk of committing suicide,
they should be treated immediately.
Depression Self-Diagnosis Test
1. I am not motivated, and there were times when I feel depressed or sad.
2. I suddenly want to burst out crying for a while.
3. I am sleeping more often than usual.
4. I have lost weight recently.
5. I am suffering from constipation.
6. I experience uncontrollable shaking these days.
7. I am tired for no apparent reason.
8. I feel guilty more easily than ever.
9. I have difficulty doing the usual things.
10. I am unable to calm down because of anxiety.
11. I do not think my future is hopeful.
12. I lost interest in others.
13. I am filled with hesitation.
14. I have been thinking about suicide recently.
15. I think I will be comfortable with others if I commit suicide.
[If you have selected more than 10 questions, you have meaningful depressive symptoms.]
Joo So-young (Web Editor)
Lee Woo-yoon (ST Reporter)