Depression can strike anyone, any time. Caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, it can last for years if left untreated, even leading to tragic consequences like suicide.
Types of depression
It is sometimes difficult for depressed people and their friends and family to distinguish actual depression from the blues. When the depressed state is accompanied by other symptoms (see list below) that last at least two weeks, doctors usually diagnose clinical depression or major depressive disorder.
After giving birth, many women feel symptoms of depression. Most of them will experience a brief period of sadness (the baby blues), while some will suffer from major clinical depression known as postpartum depression.
An estimated 3 to 5 percent of the population, children and adults alike, experience bouts of seasonal depression. Generally occurring during winter, this type of depression is due to a lack of sunlight.
Triggers of depression
Depression is highly complex and has a strong genetic component. It can be triggered by many factors, including:
- A significant life event like bereavement, divorce or job loss;
- Other diseases such as Parkinson’s, or chronic pain;
- Certain medications;
- Drug or alcohol abuse.
Those who have experienced depression once have a greater risk of having another episode.
Symptoms of depression
The various symptoms of depression are as follows:
- Persistent feeling of sadness;
- Problems sleeping;
- Changes in appetite;
- Loss of energy and fatigue;
- Loss of interest and pleasure;
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions;
- Feelings of guilt and uselessness.
Without help, those suffering from depression may become less productive at work, and as a result, lose or quit their jobs. The situation may also get worse and lead to social isolation.
Some people take refuge in alcohol or narcotics. And sadly, suicide is the final option for 15% of people suffering from severe untreated depression.
Although depression can resolve itself in some people, it should be remembered that 2/3 of them will experience additional episodes. However, the risk of recurrence among people who receive adequate treatment is relatively low.
Antidepressants are medications prescribed to treat depression. They serve to regulate the balance of chemical substances found in the brain. These substances transmit nerve impulses between neurons, acting as mood regulators.
It can take two to four weeks before the positive effects of antidepressants are felt.
Antidepressants can lead to certain side effects, the most common being:
- Dry mouth;
- Insomnia or drowsiness;
- Sexual problems.
Some of these effects diminish with time. To learn more, talk to your pharmacist.
To treat depression as effectively as possible, it is important to combine a pharmacological approach with follow-up psychotherapy and physical activity.
During the healing process, it is also important to find a sympathetic ear and confide in someone you trust.
If you have questions about depression and how to treat it, talk to your pharmacist. He’s there to help!