Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Depression, Diagnosis, Recovery part 3

In my last two posts I talked about some aspects of psychiatric diagnosis but today I want to get into the issue of depression which exists on a continuum of mild to severe. What is depression? Depression is a normal mood state that comes and goes but clinical depression is different. I wish we had a better name for it. Clinical depression is not just a transient mood state. It is a disorder that affects mood, thinking, and behavior in fairly characteristic patterns and which impairs the ability to function in areas of work, school, personal and other social relationships, and other activities. It involves not only emotions but also involves the body as a whole and is associated with a variety of changes in how the brain processes information and interacts with the body's stress response system and immune function.

Depression is fairly common and results in significant disability. The World Health Organization has determined that depression is the second leading cause of chronic disability world wide. In the United States depression affects anywhere from 8-11% of the population at any one time with a lifetime risk of developing a depressive episode requiring treatment to just over 20%. Woman are affected at greater than twice the rate of men.

How do I know if I have depression? DSM-IV-TR refers to clinical depression as Major Depressive Episode defined by at least two weeks of persistent daily depressed mood or significant loss of pleasure in activities associated with at least five of the following symptoms; depressed mood and/or loss of pleasure, significant changes in appetite or weight, persistent insomnia or hypersomnia, agitation or severe psychomotor slowing, profound fatigue and loss of energy, decreased ability to think and concentrate as well as severe indecisiveness, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Another cardinal feature not listed is the sense that everything is overwhelming and that even simple tasks of daily living can be seen as insurmountable obstacles. There are often associated physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, irritable bowel or constipation, increased muscle tension.

I will talk more on this tomorrow. I hope that even though these posts are somewhat didactic that they are still useful and of some interest.

Thought for the day

Run after mature righteousness- faith, love and peace.

St. Paul

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