Psychology Degree Guide: Depression Resources
Depression is a mental disorder or illness that affects a person’s emotional state. Typical symptoms of depression include sadness, lethargy, loss of appetite, loss of interest in activities that are normally enjoyable. Unlike periods of sadness that occasionally occur for most people, depression does not go away in a matter of days. If symptoms of depression persist for two weeks or longer, it is possible that medical treatment is required. The causes of depression may be physiological or situational. Depression is believed to be a genetic disorder. Severe forms of depression may interfere with daily life and are more likely to precipitate suicide.
Depression is not a condition that a person will simply snap out of by being more positive. Typical treatment requires a combination of lifestyle changes, talk therapy and very frequently medications are prescribed.
This resource will review the history of the treatment of depression and modern treatment options. Also included is information about the different types of depression and forms that are more likely to affect women, children or the elderly and available resources. This resource is part of a collection of psychological resources. It is useful for individuals studying psychological disorders such as depression, performing research or for personal interest.
Symptoms currently identified as depressive disorder were recorded as early as ancient Greece, and termed “melancholia” by Greek physician Hippocrates. This specific diagnostic term included a range of psychological disorders and depression itself was largely ignored and left untreated. Individuals displaying other types of psychological distress such as mania or hallucinations were locked up in asylums.
During the 18th century, symptoms of depression were considered nervous conditions, which included hypochondria and hysteria. Treatments ranged from cold baths and chicken soup to spa therapies, exercise and dietary recommendations. The differences between these conditions and those that elicited commitment to insane asylums were obvious.
Sigmund Freud altered the face of therapeutic techniques for psychological disorders when he began practicing psychoanalysis, a practice that was meant to induce the subconscious into revealing the psychological source of the patient’s emotional disturbance. This method was extremely popular into the 20th century when different forms of treatment began to surface, such as electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), barbiturate-induced sleep and lobotomies.
During the 50s it was discovered that the tricyclic drug imipramine alleviated depression symptoms. Approximately the same time, researchers discovered a link between serotonin levels in the blood and mental illness. These discoveries led to the production of other drugs, such as Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI). While still currently available, the significant side effects of these drugs, including possible fatality, diminish their popularity.
Dr. Arvid Carlsson discovered that during the synapses of neurotransmitters, serotonin was re-absorbed into the neuron, leading researchers to develop Prozac. Prozac is one form of anti-depressant classified as a Specific Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). This led to the discovery of other brain chemical deficiencies associated with depressive disorders, such as norepinephrine and the development Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs).
Types of Depression
There are many different variants of depression, which are defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). The three main types are: Clinical Depression (Major Depressive Disorder), Dysthymia (Dysthymic Disorder) and Bi-Polar Disorder (Manic Depression). Clinical Depression is indicated if the symptoms of depression are experienced for two weeks or longer while Dysthymia is indicated if the same symptoms are experienced for two years or more. Bi-Polar Disorder is indicated by the same symptoms of depression accompanied by a manic episode or episodes.
- Depressive disorder that causes restlessness, insomnia and irritability rather than low energy.
- A type of major depressive disorder in which the patient loses the ability to interact with others and sometimes respond to others and may exhibit odd movements, facial expressions and repeat phrases unintentionally.
- Depression that lasts two years or more is considered chronic.
- Depression that consists of mild chronic depression (Dysthymia) coupled with extreme episodes of depression.
- Depressive mood without cause.
- Aspect of major depressive disorder, which includes a lack of enjoyment in nearly all activities. Other elements include depression that is usually more extreme in the morning, guilt that is acute or inappropriate, changes in appetite (increase or decrease), and marked changes in energy.
Post-Partum Depression (Baby Blues)
- Depressive disorder that typically takes place a month after a woman gives birth.
- Episodic depression coupled with hallucinations and delusions.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Depressive disorder that occurs during the fall or winter and has occurred consistently for the previous two years at the same time without episodes at other times.
Depression in the Elderly
Depression affects more than 6 million elderly adults (aged 65 or older). The onset of depression may be related to social transitions experienced later in life or as a result of long-term illness. It is often overlooked and is frequently misdiagnosed.
- Information about depression in the elderly from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), including causes, possible consequences if it is left untreated and treatment options.
Depression in Women
Women are typically more prone to depression than men. Genetics and hormones may play a role in depressive disorders, making depression after childbirth and at the onset of menopause more likely. Stress may also contribute to the onset of depression.
- Information about depression in women from WebMD, including overviews, treatment options, home remedies and resources for help.
Depression in Children
Children do suffer from depression, which may be indicated by withdrawal from normally enjoyable activities, low energy, problems concentrating, feelings of sadness or feeling hopeless and possibly thoughts of suicide.
- National Institute of Mental Health offers information about depression in children and adolescents. Includes treatment options, information about medications, clinical trials and effective treatment plans.
Treatment options for depression may include changes in lifestyle, psychotherapy or counseling, prescription medications, electroconvulsive therapy and possibly inpatient or outpatient treatment programs.
This section offers resources that provide more in-depth information about depression and treatment options. Includes online depression tests that may help individuals determine if they should seek help, pamphlets and hotline information.
- Information about depression and depressive disorders from PubMed Health. Includes prognosis, complications, and prevention methods.
- Depression Health Center from WebMD. Depression tests, information about living with depression and coping skills, online community and other related information.
- Helpguide.org offers information about depression risk factors, lifestyle changes, and resources for individuals considering suicide.
- The National Institute of Mental Health offers detailed information about depression in downloadable PDF file. Covers significant aspects of depression, information about different types of depression and who depression affects.
Suicide Hotlines & Cutting