What is depression?
Depression is a type of mood disorder and serious medical illness. It negatively affects the thought and the behavioral process of life. If an individual is suffering from depression for more than two weeks, it is called a major depressive disorder or clinical depression. Depression often leads to sadness and loneliness, if untreated, it may lead to death due to suicide. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women may experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.
What are the symptoms of depression?
Depression can strike at any time, but on average, it first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Symptoms must last at least two weeks for depression diagnosis. Common symptoms seen in patients with depression:
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed.
- Changes in appetite – weight loss or gain, unrelated to dieting.
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Loss of energy or increased weakness.
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others).
- Feeling worthless or guilty.
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
What are the risk factors and causes of depression?
Depression is usually caused by an external event; however, environmental and psychological factors can also contribute.
Common risk factors and causes that can trigger depression:
- Family history of depression is the most common risk factor seen in patients with depression
- Serious loss of loved ones
- Chronic illness
- Relationship difficulties or failure
- Exposure to abuse (includes emotional, physical and sexual)
- Neglect or community violence
- Financial problems
- Negative life events or unwelcome changes in life patterns
- Drug or alcohol addiction as well as withdrawal
- Pregnancy and post-pregnancy related stress
What home remedies can help treat depression?
Depressive disorders can make a person feel negative about life. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. The following are common remedies to fight depression:
- Drink sufficient water and eat a healthy diet. Foods that include folate and vitamin D supplements help fight depression.
- Proper rest helps with mood elevation.
- Make a habit to express feelings to close ones during depression.
- Do not indulge in any stress-related tasks; make small daily goals to cope with depressive mood.
- Failing to reach expectations should not be considered a failure; it should be seen positively.
- Try to socialize more frequently.
- Motivate yourself by exercising, going for a movie or spending quality time with loved ones.
- Limit access to things that could hurt you or others (for example, do not keep excess medication of any kind, firearms or other weapons at home).
What is the most commonly prescribed antidepressant?
Antidepressants are drugs used to treat depression.
Some of the most common antidepressant drug classes are:
- Selective serotonin uptake inhibitors
- Dual-action antidepressants
- Atypical antidepressants
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
However, the best and most commonly used drug for the treatment of depression is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
SSRIs increase the amount of neurochemical, known as serotonin, in the brain (brain serotonin levels often are low in depression). SSRIs work by selectively blocking serotonin reuptake in the brain.
SSRIs help activate the cells that have been deactivated by depression, relieving the depressed person's symptoms.
Examples of SSRIs are:
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Paxil (paroxetine)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Luvox (fluvoxamine)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Trintellix (vortioxetine)
- Viibryd (vilazodone)
SSRIs have few side effects and are generally tolerated well by patients.
The most common side effects are:
However, these side effects generally go away within the first month of SSRI use. SSRIs are often the first line and best treatment for depression.