Depression symptoms can include feeling sad; a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed; changes in appetite (causing weight loss or weight gain); changes in sleeping pattern; changes in energy levels; feelings of worthlessness or guilt; trouble thinking; concentrating or making decisions; thoughts of death or suicide.1
Several factors can play a role in depression1
- Biochemistry: certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to symptoms of depression by causing imbalances.
- Genetics: depression can run in the family.
- Personality: people with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be more likely to experience depression.
- Environmental factors: continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty may make some people more vulnerable to depression.
Certain medical conditions like thyroid problems, a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency can cause symptoms of depression, therefore ruling out other medical causes before a diagnosis is important.1
Alternative approaches like meditation, faith, proper nutrition and exercise can be part of a comprehensive prevention and treatment plan.2, 3
Before a diagnosis or treatment, a health professional should conduct a thorough evaluation, which includes an interview and a physical examination in order to plan a course of action.1
Treatment for depression can include1
- Medication (like antidepressants or other psychotropics)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of therapy focused on the present and problem solving. It helps a person to recognize their distorted thinking and to change their behaviors and thought processes
- Group therapy: involves multiple people with similar illnesses
- Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): it involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia