Depression is one of the most commonly-occurring mental illness conditions today, estimated to affect millions of individuals globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 270 million people suffer from depression globally, a pointer to just how much of a problem depression currently is. This begs the question, what exactly is depression, and why is it so widely occurring?
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by extended or persistent feelings of sadness and a marked loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable. Note that depression and grief are two different things, and they should not be used interchangeably for each other. Grief is a natural emotional response to loss or disaster, and although it is characterized by depressed mood and emotions, its symptoms are usually transient.
Depression, on the other hand, is characterized by episodes of depressed mood symptoms that last longer than normal and severely affect/impair the ability of an individual to function properly in his daily life. Another significant difference between depression and grief is that, unlike grief, the symptoms of depression remain present even without a discernable cause.
It is worth mentioning that effective treatment of mental illness conditions depends a great deal on early detection of the mental illness condition. So, it’s important you’re able to identify possible symptoms of depression, so you’ll be able to get effective treatment as early as possible. Although it is a mental illness condition, depression can elicit the manifestation of several physical and mental symptoms. Some of these symptoms include the following:
People with depression may also exhibit symptoms like increased irritability, headaches, pain, and problems with food digestion.
At this point, it is important to mention that there is currently no 100% cure for depression. However, there are several treatment approaches that have been used to help people with depression enjoy symptom-free lives. Some of these conventional treatment approaches for depression include the following:
Medication: The use of medications for treating and managing depression remains one of the main approaches for taking care of depression symptoms. Doctors often prescribe antidepressant medications like citalopram and fluoxetine to people suffering from depression to help alleviate depressive symptoms.
Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is usually aimed at helping people suffering from depression identify the reason they’re experiencing these depressive symptoms. Patients work with a counselor who helps them to correctly identify depression triggers and develop effective coping mechanisms. Examples of psychotherapy approaches used in treating depression symptoms include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT).
It is important to note that no depression treatment approach is 100% effective. So while some individuals remain depression-free for the rest of their lives, others relapse again and again and can only enjoy relief from their depression symptoms in “episodes.” In addition to this, conventional depression treatment options like the use of antidepressants have a long onset time.
This simply means that people using these antidepressants for depression symptom management have to wait for long periods (several weeks) before they’ll begin to feel the effects of the antidepressant they’ve been using. This is undesirable because patients will have to endure unpleasant depression symptoms. There is also the matter of treatment-resistant depression.
As earlier mentioned, although conventional depression treatment options work for some people, they are not always effective, and the occurrence of Treatment-resistant depression is a perfect example of this. Treatment-resistant depression is a term used to describe situations where people suffering from depression cannot get relief from their symptoms after treatment. Usually, people with treatment-resistant depression will have tried several different treatment options with little to no success.
It’s important to note that before an individual can be diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression, they must have undergone treatment regimens with at least two different antidepressants from different drug classes. Unlike “normal” depression cases, management of treatment-resistant depression with conventional treatment approaches only results in “brief” relief for patients. The depressive episodes are also more severe and last longer.
Conventional approaches to managing treatment-resistant depression may include increasing antidepressant doses or outrightly switching from one type of antidepressant to another. If these approaches do not yield satisfactory treatment results, alternative treatment approaches like Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) are often employed. ECT has been used severally to help patients with treatment-resistant depression enjoy relief from their symptoms. In fact, it remains one of the most commonly-employed treatment options for treating treatment-resistant depression.
Despite its effectiveness, ECT does have pretty severe side effects. For example, ECT has been known to cause disorientation and confusion in patients. It has also been linked to memory loss which may persist beyond the treatment period.
Although ECT is one of the most popular approaches for treating treatment-resistant depression, it is often reserved as a last option because of its potentially serious side effects. In its place, a novel approach to treating treatment-resistant depression has been gaining traction. This new approach is known as Psychedelics-assisted Therapy.
Psychedelics-assisted Therapy involves the use of psychedelic drugs like ketamine and esketamine in combination with psychotherapy to help patients beat mental illness conditions. Despite its pretty “simple” approach, it is worth mentioning that Psychedelics-assisted Therapy has been used to successfully treat various cases of mental illness conditions, including treatment-resistant depression.
Psychedelics-assisted Therapy has been so effective for treating treatment-resistant depression that some now consider it the major treatment option for TRD. Another great thing about psychedelics-assisted Therapy is that it has a fast onset time, so patients won’t have to wait for long periods before they’ll begin to enjoy the benefits of the therapy approach.