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Depression: Warning Signs, Treatment Options

Depression, also referred to as clinical depression, major depression, or major depressive disorder, is a mental health condition that can affect up to 16 million adults in any given year. It is one of the most common mental health disorders and sources of disability across the globe.

While depressive disorders can be treated and you can find relief for the symptoms, depression as a disorder cannot be cured in the traditional way of thinking. Symptoms can be alleviated and remission can be achieved, but depression can also carry a high risk for recurrence.

In fact, at least half of all people who suffer from a depressive episode will experience another one in their lifetime.

Depression can cause intense feelings of sadness or hopelessness that may interfere with all aspects of your life. If you find yourself suffering from depression, it is imperative that you talk with your mental health professional. There are lots of treatments, both old and new, that can help you find relief from your symptoms and make living with depression more manageable.

What are the warning signs of depression?

The symptoms of depression may manifest themselves in different ways in each individual. The most common signs and symptoms of being clinically depressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Weight or appetite changes
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Lack of interest in hobbies
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or emptiness
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression symptoms must be present most of the day, almost every day, for a period of at least two weeks to be diagnosed as clinical depression. You do not need to exhibit all of the symptoms listed above to be diagnosed with depression.

Why is depression treatment so important?

A number of diseases and illnesses can be cured through medications such as antibiotics, but depression is not among them. Some medications or antidepressants can temporarily relieve symptoms of depression by attempting to correct the underlying chemical imbalance.

Even if a depressive episode has passed, it does not mean your depression has been cured or will never come back. What made you vulnerable to depression to begin with is still there and may be triggered under the right circumstances.

When depression goes untreated, the symptoms can interfere with every aspect of a person’s daily life. If it gets more severe, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions, which is why treatment is vital as soon as you suspect you may be experiencing a depressive episode. Research has also linked depression to a number of other illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s, or diabetes.

What treatment options are available?

Since millions of people suffer from depression each year, there is no shame in seeking treatment. You may feel resistant or think it is brave to simply “tough it out”, but extended depression without treatment can be very dangerous to your health.

While there are some treatments available such as antidepressants, these will not work for everyone and may take weeks or months before relief is found. There are also some general lifestyle changes anyone can make to improve their own symptoms of depression as well.

Ketamine infusions for treatment of depression:

An innovative new treatment option, ketamine, is an FDA-approved anesthetic that has been found to provide rapid relief from depression and anxiety when infused at a low dose. The FDA recently approved Spravato, a nasal spray comprised of a compound based on ketamine, for the treatment of depression and other mood disorders. Research indicates that ketamine stimulates the regrowth of synapses within the brain, essentially rewiring the parts of the brain that may be causing distress. Ketamine is also available as an infusion. Some researchers maintain a 75% success rate when treating those suffering from depression or anxiety with ketamine Infusions.

Lifestyle Changes for Depression:

Set Goals for Yourself — Depression can make you feel hopeless and as if you will not accomplish anything. To combat your symptoms, set daily goals that will help you regain self-confidence and motivation.

Settle Into a Routine — Depression can erode the sense of structure in your life, and before too long every day may feel exactly the same. Setting up a schedule for each day can help you get back into your daily routine. This can also help you sleep better and avoid feelings of fatigue.

Eat Better — Many people living with depression will experience changes in weight or appetite. When suffering from a depressive disorder, it is best to avoid foods high in sugar and eat healthy foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids or folic acid.

Stay in Shape — Exercise boosts endorphins, a kind of “feel-good” chemical in the brain. Some research even suggests regular exercise is as effective as antidepressant medications when treating depression. It is important to stay healthy to ward off future depressive episodes.