Depression – Causes and Treatment

depression ketamine

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that falls into the category of mood disorders. It is a condition characterized by feelings of hopelessness, sadness and a loss of interest in everyday activities. Also called clinical depression or depressive disorder, it has a profound effect on your life and can influence how you think, feel, behave and more. It can also lead to physical problems, and in severe cases, can lead to suicide.

As much as people would like to think that depression is something that you can “just snap out of”, unfortunately, you simply can’t. Thankfully it’s becoming more understood and accepted that this type of mood disorder is an actual medical ailment, much in the way diabetes or cancer is, that is the result of a combination of hormonal imbalances, psychological issues, and even environmental causes. To date there has been much research to date on remedying depression and with the right combination of medication, psychotherapy or more, most people can feel much better.

What causes Depression?

Depression is not caused by one particular incident or malady; rather, it is a combination of various factors that can result in the condition. It is a result of hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny factors working together to create the problem.

For example:

  • A Chemical Imbalance: Depression can be a result of having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. So many chemicals and neurotransmitters are involved in the overall function of the brain that it is hard to pinpoint which ones affect one person one way but another completely different.
  • Biological Disposition: You may have depression because you carry a gene that makes you more vulnerable to low moods, and this trait may be inherited from a relative. Further, there may be an anatomical influence on the prevalence of depression: for example, research has shown that some people with depression have a smaller sized hippocampus (the area of the brain partly responsible for emotion and memory), and have slower firing neurons. Research is ongoing on these topics.
  • Environmental Stress: These kinds of stressors can include a stressful life event, abuse of drugs or alcohol, social and physical isolation, and more. This is truly just the tip of the iceberg in the case of depression, as we are only just starting to learn about it fully.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

Symptoms of depression, too, are widespread, but mainly include:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Fits of anger and frustration beyond normal levels
  • A loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
  • Sleep disturbances, such as too much or too little sleep
  • Low energy and appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Slowed cognitive function or movement
  • Recurrent dark thoughts, such as suicidal thoughts or tendencies

Depression Treatment

There are several options for treating depression, and most people who have depression respond well to treatment. Depression treatment options include:

  • Medication: There are a variety of medications on the market today that can help to balance out brain chemistry and alleviate the symptoms of depression. These medications are usually very safe, non-habit forming and are not stimulants or tranquilizers. The only downside to these medications is that it can take up to a few months for the patient to fully feel the effects, but there have been amazing new developments around this. Science has found that Ketamine, a drug usually used to start and maintain anesthesia, alongside the dose of the antidepressant can have amazing results to speed up the efficacy of the antidepressant. Further to, ketamine therapy is a very effective method to quickly relieve Treatment-Resistant Depression, including conditions where other medications, ECT and TMS have not been successful.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy can be used alone or alongside medication to treat depression. This can also include cognitive behavioural therapy, which focuses on problem-solving and to correct and recognize distorted thinking and behaviours. Some clinics offer intensive psychotherapy programs, for example the SanDiego Residential Intensive Outpatient Program
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): This type of treatment involves currents that are passed through the brain, which impacts and assists the function of the neurotransmitters that are causing the depression. ECT is an option for those patients who aren’t seeing results from the antidepressant medication, or who are at high risk for suicide.
  • Alternative Medicine: This can involve seeing a naturopathic doctor or adding certain supplements into your diet, such as St. John’s Wart, SAMe, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids – all which have shown results to improve depression. These alternatives can also include activities such as yoga and meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy and even positive self-talk.

Overall, one should be sure to live a lifestyle that includes healthy amounts of sleep, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and self-care. All of these factors can assist in combatting depression.

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