Why is it important to identify and treat clinical depression?

In this article, we will explain why is it important to identify and treat clinical depression as early as possible.

Depression occurs on a spectrum of intensity, spanning from comparatively minor, acute depressed mood disorders to extreme, long-term symptoms that have a significant effect on a person’s health. If the signs of an individual have hit the chronic end of the continuum and need specialist care, they are commonly referred to as clinical depression.

Clinical depression is characterized by a depressive mood for much of the day, often notably in the morning, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities and friendships that have been observed every day for at least 2 weeks.

Why is it important to identify and treat clinical depression

It has been stressed a lot for the requirement of identification and treatment of clinical depression, but why is it important? Here are the reasons why it is important to identify and treat clinical depression.

Early treatment of individual

Early treatment for any disorder is good be it physical or mental problems. In case you have any symptoms of clinical depression that have lasted for more than 2 weeks, you should show them to a psychologist for treatment. They can help you identify the problem and start with early treatment. Early treatment helps deal with the symptoms before they turn severe. Individuals who do not seek treatment for the first wave of depression have a harder time dealing with the second episode.

Reduced complications of comorbidity

Along with depression, a person can over a period of time develop certain other mental health problems like anxiety, stress, sleep disorder, eating disorder and many more. Because the symptoms of depression are such it is very difficult for the person to deal with them on their own. It is therefore important to identify and treat clinical depression before it causes more problems for us. The effect of depression on our lives is bad enough, we do not need additional difficulties with it. 

The negative effect of depression on the physical body

Depression is not a mental disorder, its effect is seen on the physical body of a person too. Research has shown that people with depression have consistently lowered levels of energy and feel fatigued. There is a decrease in the pain tolerance levels of a person with clinical depression. There is an experience of back pains or aching muscles all over the body even if the person has not indulged in a lot of physical activity. You might experience occasional headaches and eye problems where there is a decrease in vision. Stomach pains and uneasiness in the abdomen issues have been reported. Therefore it is important to identify and treat clinical depression, in order to avoid these.

The negative effect of depression on the brain

Depression affects three major reasons in the brain, the hippocampus and amygdala. The hippocampus stores memories and regulates cortisol production. During depressive episodes the cortisol production is excessive and that can lead to the person having memory issues. 

The amygdala is responsible for facilitating emotional responses within us like pleasure and fear. But due to depression, it becomes enlarged and hyperactive resulting in disturbance in sleep and inability to experience pleasure and happiness. 

There is also difficulty in concentration, attention, decision making and regulation of emotions that is experienced by individuals with clinical depression. 

The economical and financial burden on patient and economy

Depression seems to have a significant effect on patient wellbeing, the life quality of patients and families, everyday living and day-to-day work, and on hospitals and doctors, insurers, and managers. People with depression appear to have several health conditions that intensify adverse symptoms and raise costs. The economic impact of the disease is high, with direct care expenses projected at $3.5 million per 1000 distressed plan participants. Depression is substantially under-diagnosed and under-treated, especially in primary care, where most depressed individuals require therapy.

Successful remission techniques are being established and were shown to be beneficial in clinical studies. Early diagnosis, intervention, and timely treatment can encourage remission, avoid relapse, and decrease the emotional and financial burden of the disorder. 

Currently, depressive treatment usually consists of prescription antidepressants, psychotherapy, or all. That being said, mental health professionals recommend early and more intensive treatment to help improve the chance of remission and thus decrease the total cost of care.

Given the long-term often progressive nature of depression, reaching recovery is important to anticipate potential results in the seriousness of the disorder or in the creation of new depressive episodes. Current research predicts a more than 50% chance that a person who has experienced 1 episode of depression will undergo a second episode within 5 years. During the second episode of depression, the risk of complications rises to about 70%. The incidence is higher than 90% following the third episode of depression. 

Regrettably, only about one-third of people with depression undergo adequate medical help, and the rest are not addressed enough to reach recovery. Patients that do not complete recovery are at increased risk of relapse and chronicity, multiple long-term depressive symptoms, and reduced time during depressive episodes.

The presence of lingering effects after therapy is an indicator of poor results. Findings of the National Institute of Mental Health Collaborative Depression Research concluded that participants with residual symptoms after treatment had slightly more extreme and long-term risk factors than people with no residual symptoms. Similarly, people with lingering signs reported regression or more 3 times quicker and saw more outbreaks and less symptom-free periods through follow-up compared to asymptomatic patients.

People who struggle to reach recovery often prefer to use additional hospital facilities, as shown in a study that workers with a diagnosis of treatment-resistant depression (TRD) have used over twice as many outpatient services as people without TRD. In TRD patients, the estimated annual care cost was $14,490 per employee compared to $6665 for workers who were stressed but were not deemed to be needing care. Similar findings were observed in the second report, which revealed that patients with chronic depression had about double the annual insurance expense as compared to those who had completed recovery.

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Possible methods to identify and treat clinical depression

Clinical depression is a serious illness that requires proper medical treatment but is treatable, especially if professional help is provided early. Depending on the symptoms and their severity, the treatment plan is laid out and decided. 

Medications

FOr clinical depression using medications is necessary and generally the first line of treatment. Based on the symptoms and the severity of their effect on the individual’s life the antidepressants are given and the appropriate class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are chosen. SSRIs such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Lexapro (escitalopram), and Paxil (paroxetine) are prescribed by the psychiatrist. There are different antidepressants too that belong to the different classes like, Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), Atypical antidepressants, and Tricyclic antidepressants.

Psychotherapy

Along with medications, psychotherapy is provided to the patient for the treatment of clinical depression. Psychotherapy is like talk therapy where the person opens up to the psychologist or counselor about their problems, feelings and experiences. Together they work towards identifying what the reason for depression might be and then work upon finding solutions and techniques to get out of depression. 

In psychotherapy one of the most commonly used types of therapy for clinical depression is cognitive behavioral therapy and electroconvulsive therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps the patient understand what beliefs systems of theirs are leading to the causes of clinical depression. Electroconvulsive therapy is used to treat severe cases of clinical depression when the medications and therapy are not working. Electricity is passed through the person in order to help them with depression.

Physical activity and exercising

According to research physical activity has a positive impact on a person’s mental and physical health. When we exercise, the body releases certain endorphins that can help in the creation of “feel good” hormones inside our brain, boosting up our mood and making us feel happy. In case you do not want to do it alone, you can join a group sport and that will help deal with the feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

Hobbies and Interests

One of the common symptoms of clinical depression is the loss of interest in activities that used to bring pleasure earlier. You no longer feel like engaging in your old hobbies and interests. But the way to counteract it is by continuing to take part in your hobbies or find other activities that might make you happy. 

In this article, we explained why is it important to identify and treat clinical depression as early as possible.

FAQs: Why is it important to identify and treat clinical depression

What is the meaning of clinical depression?

Clinical depression is considered to be the most severe form of depression that is present. It is also referred to as a major depression. It refers to periods of prolonged sadness, anger, and irritation. It is not the same as depression that is caused by the loss of a loved one or any medical reason. 

Do you have to be clinically diagnosed with depression?

Yes, you have to be clinically diagnosed with depression and for that, you need to have a set of symptoms. These include prolonged periods of persistent sadness and despair, loss of energy and low concentration and attention span. Along with other symptoms, they need to be present for at least two weeks where you experience these symptoms on most days. 

What is a clinical diagnosis of depression based on?

A clinical diagnosis of depression is based on the guidelines provided by DSM-5. It describes the guidelines and criteria that need to be present for the diagnosis of depression. The individual must have the symptoms for a duration of 2 weeks and at least they should be experiencing depressed moods or loss of interest. Along with these, there should be five or more symptoms present.

Is clinical depression a disability?

Yes, clinical depression is considered to be a psychiatric disability according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is seen as a mood disorder that causes significant distress in a person’s day to day life and can be a hindrance in their ability to work.

What depression does to your brain?

The extended and hyperactive amygdala, along with irregular behavior in other areas of the brain, can lead to sleep disturbances and changes in the level of activity. It can also induce the body to break down abnormal levels of hormones and many other compounds in the body, contributing to further risks.

What is the meaning of depressed?

Depressed means to be sad and have a serious mood disorder where the person experiences prolonged sadness and despair. They feel hopeless, worthless and helpless about their situation.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

https://www.ajmc.com/view/nov07-2638ps092-s097

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-clinical-depression-1067309#treatment

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