The term depressive disorder covers a wide range of mental illness including but not exclusive to clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression and unipolar disorder.
Patients suffering from major depressive disorder tend to lapse into perpetual periods of sadness and often digress to a feeling of low self esteem or worthlessness. They often find it difficult or almost impossible to enjoy most of lifes pleasurable experiences and activities. Major depressive disorders affect not only the patient but also all too often affect their families, friends and co-workers. Employment or student habits are often disrupted from symptoms of sleeplessness, lack of appetite and overall health well being.
To properly diagnose major depressive disorders physicians use several things to base their judgments on. They must listen to their patients own description of
symptoms, experiences and feelings, speak with friends and relatives of the patient, when possible, to discern what changes or patterns they may have witnessed and finally the doctor would then do a “Mental Status Exam”. The physicians would also normally do a full physical workup to discern that there is no other illness or disease with similar symptoms or characteristics that may be the cause. To date medical science has no exact test to diagnose major depression disorder.
When it comes to major depressive disorders there are no givens as to what age groups it affects but the most common onset seems to appear between the ages of 30 to 40 years with a tendency to peak between 50 and 60 years of age. One of the most startling statistics recorded is that at least 3.4 percent of people who have major depressive disorders in the United States are prone apt to commit suicide and 60 per cent of them will have either depression or mood disorders. It is also known that women are more prone to depressive disorders then men but that being said it is also documented that more men who have it commit suicide.
The symptoms and signs of major depression will vary from patient to patient but besides the ones noted in the earlier paragraph such as the inability to function at work or school and the lack of happiness in day to day pleasurable activities there are other signs that a physician will look for. Someone with depression tends to dwell and let feelings of low self worth, guilt over past mistakes, self hatred and inward turned anger disrupt their day to day feelings of well being.
Concentration in even simple tasks is often a challenge and often they suffer from memory loss. They prefer to be alone more than socializing and tend to withdraw more and more from society. Insomnia often plagues them with waking early and keeping them mentally aroused so they cannot return to sleep. Sex drives are diminished which also just adds to feelings of inadequacy. Weight loss is common all though in some rare cases overeating can also become a problem as well.
Treatments for major depression usually include psychotherapy, medications and electro convulsive therapy or a combination of any of the three.
Psychotherapy has proven moderately successful when applied by psychiatrists, psychotherapists, psycho lists, clinical social workers, counselors and even psychiatric nurses. It is the preferred method of treatment for any patients under 18 and is often used in conjunction with varied medications on an outpatient service.
The list and variety of medications used to treat depression is as long, varied and complicated as the multitude of side affects that physicians and patients must be aware of. They must be monitored and adjusted to coincide with the patients symptoms and often for chronic cases of depression they may need to be taken indefinitely.
Electro convulsive therapy (once know as shock treatment) is the use of electrical impulse being pulsed through two electrodes on the patients temples directly into the brain. This is usually used in only the most severe cases of depression such as when patients are in a catatonic state for example.