A major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. In fact, it is one of the most common reasons for both hospital admissions and emergency room visits. A major depressive episode affects approximately one in five Americans at some point in their lives.
As its name implies, major depressive disorder symptoms include feelings of sadness or hopelessness, deep emotional distress, a sense of helplessness, a decreased interest in activities or other people, problems focusing, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Different variations in treatment goals and symptoms among patients and health care professionals across the various acute, intermediate, and chronic stages of depression.
The treatment of major depressive disorder symptoms often depends on the degree and level of each patient’s symptoms
For instance, those with less severe symptoms will receive additional support to help them return to daily living tasks. Those with more extreme manifestations will be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist for diagnosis and additional treatment. Common symptoms include
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt (for missing out on things that others seem to have plenty of
- Excessive guilt related to negative thoughts (such as negative self-talk and beliefs about one’s self)
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased levels of sadness or guilt, irritability, and/or anger
- Thoughts about death or suicide
- Physical pain and/or discomfort
- Other physical ailments
While these are all common symptoms, others may also occur regularly and significantly in some patients. When the presence of some or all of these symptoms is detected, the patient is referred for an evaluation and a thorough medical examination.
During this evaluation, the physician will be looking for indications of other mental health issues such as
- Bipolar disorder
- Substance abuse or other physical health conditions
- Nutritional status (to rule out nutritional deficiency)
- Other mental health concerns (such as PTSD or depression)
The physician will also evaluate the physical health of the person, including
- Their ability to focus
There are several antidepressant medications available to treat the major depressive disorder. Most are available in the form of a single pill and may help to improve the symptoms of the illness within just a few hours of being taken.
Some patients report improvement up to six weeks following the initial intake. Still, some antidepressants may help with the symptoms for only a short period of time, and others may need to be taken more frequently in order to provide relief.
A newer option in the US (but available in many countries) is using brainwave entrainment technology. This works through the use of audio signals that are fed into the brain.
This type of technology has been successfully used to treat many psychological disorders, such as ADD/ADHD and/or depression. It is now being used for major depressive disorder.
While it is not clear how it works, studies are showing that sufferers show increased activity in the theta (wave), alpha (waves), beta (wave), and delta (wave) frequencies. It is believed that these frequency patterns promote a sense of wellness in those suffering from a major depressive disorder.
Another important area of research on the effect of these therapies is examining how they impact patients’ overall mental health and wellbeing
Typically, patients who have a major depressive disorder (MDD) will exhibit a lower level of general mental health, but their levels of specific mental health symptoms such as
- Panic attacks
- Sadness will be much higher
These patients typically also report a higher level of distress when compared to those with less severe forms of the disorder. For example, the higher levels of anxiety typically seen in those with major depressive disorder (MDD) may be associated with greater sleep issues, poor sleep quality, and greater levels of restlessness.
Studies have shown that when patients with HCPs exhibit greater symptom control, greater improvements in mood, greater skill in managing stress, and greater improvement in life satisfaction, these benefits translate to greater patient functioning.
Patients with mild forms of the disorder have been found to respond better to psychotherapy than those with more severe forms. In addition, patients who exhibit greater symptom control have also been found to respond better to medications that target the symptoms of depression and improve patient functioning.
As most medical professionals will likely tell you, the most effective treatment for severe depression involves a combination of psychotherapy, medications, and lifestyle changes.
The reason why this is the case is that it is believed that patients who are able to fully address both psychotherapy and medication have a higher chance of regaining some form of self-esteem and managing their stressors effectively.
However, if a patient only addresses one of these areas, then chances are that he or she will experience a relapse within a short period of time. This is why it is so critical that patients work closely with their mental health professionals and discuss all available treatment options with them before making any solid decisions regarding their condition.
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