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Depression is a serious and all too common mental health issue for a large percentage of the population. A number of parents have had to deal with difficult issues such as post partum depression, depression in children and teen depression. Depression can be a result of any number of causes that can be psychological, physiological or even social. Depression can also be related to heart disease, particularly in cases of anxiety related disorders where one of the byproducts of the disorder is increased heart rate during moments of anxiety or panic.

Clinical Depression

Although many, in fact most, of the population will be depressed at some point in their life, this does not necessarily qualify one for the diagnoses of clinical depression. Sometimes called unipolar depression, or major depressive disorder, Clinical Depression is generally characterized by a prolonged feeling of sadness or despair, a general lethargy or emotional incapacity that is serious enough to disrupt the daily life at both work and at home of the patient. Depression, although a relatively regular occurrence reaches the more serious consequences in its clinical form when those suffering from depression turn to substance abuse, sometimes thought to be a form of self-medication, or even suicide. Although one may look for a “Depression Test” of sorts, diagnoses is generally made by paying close attention to the often self-reported symptoms of depression and the observed signs of depression that the patient may manifest.

Manic Depression

Also known as bipolar disorder, bipolar depression and bipolar affective disorder, manic depression is a form of chronic depression that is characterized by changes in mood that occur episodically. Generally those suffering from manic depression suffer from manic episodes of extreme energy and an inability to focus to moments of extreme depression and melancholy. Although there is no set depression test that can identify manic depression, the symptoms of this disorder are often observed when patients are in their teenage years. There are many potential contributing factors to this disorder, though as of yet it has not been determined if there is a single determining factor or whether or not it is in fact a complex interaction between experiential, social, psychological, environmental and even genetic factors that may result in manic depression.

This disorder is generally treated with counseling and some form of mood stabilizers that work to even out the manic and depressive phases. The general methodology is that since manic depression cannot be cured as such the best attempts at controlling the disorder are to medicate against the symptoms and couple this pharmacological regimen with counseling of some form that is amenable to the patient.

Other Forms of Depression

There are many causes of depression, but one of note is seasonal affective disorder or S.A.D. for short. This is a form of seasonal depression that is in some cases called holiday depression and is thought to be related to the level of sun that one gets. Given the shortened daylight hours in the winter, the Christmas season and the holidays that surround it have lent their name to this form of environmentally triggered depression. Treatments for seasonal affective disorder have primarily included the use of a light box. This box releases high level light that is thought to supplement the missing daylight that might be triggering seasonal affective disorder in the depressed patient.

Treatments for Depression

There are a wide variety of depression medication options available to patients that are currently on the market. Perhaps the most common depression treatment is the administration of pharmaceuticals known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Some of the names of these drugs include citalopram (known by the trade names Celexa, Cipramil, Emocal, Sepram, Seropram), fluoxetine (known by the trade names Prozac, Fontex, Seromex, Seronil, Serafem), paroxetine (known by the trade names Paxil, Seroxat, Aropax, Deroxat, Rexetin, Xetanor, Paroxat) and sertraline (known by the trade names Zoloft, Lustral, Serlain) among others. It should be noted that although many of these drugs can effectively control depression symptoms in patients they will not necessarily “Cure Depression,” presuming that depression is the sort of disorder that necessarily can be cured apart from some form of correction to environment or lifestyle factors that may be contributing to the patient’s depressed state. Many selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may cause any number of the following side effects, including: nausea, headache, drowsiness, dizziness, potential sexual side effects, changes in appetite leading to weight loss or gain, changes to dreams, and occasionally a worsening of symptoms leading to increased depression, anxiety and potentially thoughts of suicide.

Alternatively, there have also been a number of counseling options available to sufferers of depression and other disorders characterized by depression. It is in the counseling phase that depression is most often diagnosed, primarily because a diagnosis requires both the observation and reporting of problematic behaviors and feelings. The communicative nature of therapy is directly suited to this form of diagnosis as it is also this very interplay of practitioner and patient that is thought to help the patient work through the problems in their personal or social lives that need to be remedied in conjunction to any organic problems that might be rectified through a judicious use of antidepressants such as the aforementioned selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Therapists and counselors are often some of the first individuals of the healthcare profession to come into contact with those who may be clinically depressed. In addition, psychiatrists and psychologists may also be made use of in addition to medical regimens in the treatment of depression. Oftentimes it is this latter group of healthcare professional who will be responsible for the prescribing of antidepressants. In recent years it has been noted that some groups feel antidepressants to be increasingly over-prescribed as a means of dealing with depression. Whether or not this is in fact the case is presently under debate, but regardless of the outcome it is generally well agreed as a methodological tactic for treating depression that a patient will generally benefit from some combination of therapy and medication.