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Depression: Definition and Treatment

Man At Doctor

What is depression?

Is it a “chemical imbalance” or a psychological disturbance? Is it a character flaw or a weakness of personality? Should you blame yourself for not being able to pull yourself up by the boot straps?

Those are the questions that many people face on an everyday basis. Depression is very common. In fact, so -called major depression affects one-fifth of women at least once in their lifetime. Men are luckier and on av­erage only 10% struggle with depression at some point in their lifetime.

What causes depression?

The answer is still not clear. However, research shows that there is a genetic predisposition to depression as it often runs in families. But it’s important to note that people inherit predisposition and not pre-determination. This means that even if you have the genes that make you vulnerable to depression, it does not necessarily manifest itself as a clinical problem … although it may under certain circumstances. Those “circumstances” can be stress, physical illness, toxic effects of medications, alcohol and/or drugs. Depression can present itself in a multitude of ways, including: sadness, lack of joy, insomnia, fatigue, decrease in appetite, and/or uncontrollable eating. Depres­sion may also cause difficulty concentrating and focusing, makihg decisions, and/or feelings of inappropriate guilt.

So, what can be done to help if you are suffering from depression?

It’s important to remember that there are many treatment op­tions available. In mild to moderate cases, psychotherapy (individual or group) can be sufficient. Physical exercise can also be helpful. Herbal medication, such as St. John’s wort, can also be effective. Pharmaceutical drugs can also work for most people – with the chosen medication being determined by the therapeutic profile of a specific drug, possible side effects, personal prefer­ences, personal history, and/or family history. From my experience, treatments that incorporate lifestyle modification, psychothera­py and medication are often the most effective.

Still have questions? Please stop by the office or call to discuss your personal concerns and needs in more detail.