Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health issues facing nearly every society in the civilized world. In recent years as a deeper understanding of this illness has been reached, a number of useful treatment options have become available. Nonetheless, as these articles below illustrate, mental depression is still taken very seriously and some think that it may be increasing at an alarming rate.

One of the most difficult aspects of mental illnesses such as depression is that often times there are few warning signs earlier in life. Furthermore, while diseases such as schizophrenia can caused notable differences in the physical structure of the human brain, illnesses such as bipolar disorder or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) often cannot be physically detected. These are some of the main reasons why diagnosing certain symptoms and attributing them to depression has always proved challenging. Depression has a number of symptoms and oftentimes the sufferers do not recognize that they have depression. As well as feeling continuously low, symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Changes in sleep pattern.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Feeling hopeless and worthless.
  • Irritable.
  • Suicidal thoughts or considering self-harm.

Possible Causes

Thankfully, the last few decades have witnessed some remarkable advancements in our approach to this illness and we have come to recognize some of the primary causes of this illness. A few of the most prominent include:

  • A chemical imbalance within the brain.
  • Psychological trauma.
  • Stress and anxiety.
  • Drug addiction and abuse.
  • The death of a loved one.

Modern Treatment Options and their Effectiveness

Great advances have been made in both diagnosis and treatment since the middle of the 20th century. A psychologist will normally be consulted and he or she will determine whether the person in question meets the clinical definition of depression. However, they will also take a very "human" approach and try to understand the individual's thoughts, feelings and perceptions of the outside world. Once a proper diagnosis is made, numerous treatment options will become available.

Medication may be prescribed to help regulate certain chemicals in the brain that can have an effect on mood. This medication is nearly always combined with intensive psychotherapy and in severe cases, a patient may be hospitalized for a short period of time. The treatments that he or she will receive can be more easily monitored and in many instances, this results in faster recovery times. Finally, it must be remembered that an individual who suffers from bipolar depression may be difficult to spot; one moment he or she could appear as if they are on top of the world and the very next they could be contemplating suicidal thoughts. Thus, the treatments must be moulded around the specific needs of each individual patient. Having understood this, most treatments will include at least one or more often a combination of the following:

  • Administration of medication.
  • A brief outpatient or inpatient hospitalization.
  • Intensive therapeutic sessions to help resolve the issue.