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Depression: A Disease Of The Mind

Depression: A Disease Of The Mind

Depression: A Disease Of The Mind

Depression is an illness that affects millions of people around the world. It is a disease of the brain that prevents its victims from living a completely satisfying life. Those who suffer from Depression have difficulty holding a positive outlook on life, and are constantly focused on life’s downsides. It causes an inability to function normally in every day life situations. The disease affects all age groups, but is twice as prevalent among woman than men. Biological and Physiological factors are the primary influences on the development of Depression.

Victims of Depression exhibit a wide array of symptoms. The disease causes a perpetual sad mood, a loss in interest or pleasure in activities that were once intriguing, and a decline in energy. Depression, in many cases, triggers a significant change in appetite, which may lead to a change in body weight. Sleep-related problems, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of worthlessness are also associated with the illness. Unfortunately, Depression carries with it an extreme symptom-thoughts of suicide.

Besides the extensive mental and emotional symptoms of Depression, the disease also presents certain physical problems. Headaches, backaches, abdominal pain, and aching joints are common with Depression. So, not only does the disease affect the mind, but it also takes a toll on the body.

There are several types of Depression. One type is Major Depression. This illness is characterized by a constant sad mood and an extreme inability to experience pleasure. The symptoms of Major Depression interfere with the opportunity to lean an enjoyable and productive life. If left untreated, this disorder usually persists for about six months. Major Depression is, in most cases, a recurring illness.

Atypical Depression, another specific type, includes short and sporadic raises in mood. These come about in response to positive events, but they are quickly taken over by the depression. Atypical Depression is often accompanied by a weight gain or a significant increase in appetite. Excessive sleeping is also common with this type of Depression. Its victims are usually especially sensitive to rejection, which can deepen the feelings of depression.

Another type of Depression is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This illness is marked by episodes of depression that develop along a seasonal pattern. Most often, the depressed mood emerges in the fall or winter, when sunlight is not as plentiful. The feelings that come with the disorder leave ones the season is over. Seasonal Affective Disorder is more common in northern climates and among young people.

Postpartum Depression is another type of the mental disease. This is a disorder that affects new mothers. Postpartum Depression is fairly long lasting and severe. It is triggered by hormonal changes that are associated with having a baby. The illness usually develops shortly after delivery, but in some cases, can take up to six months to develop.

Depression is a disease that is caused by physiological problems. These problems include the neurological imbalances that are associated with Depression. Neurotransmitters play an important role in the development of the illness. These are the “messengers” of the brain. They control mood and emotions. There are three neurotransmitters that are major in the onset of Depression. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood, hunger, sleep, and arousal. People who suffer from Depression have an insufficient supply of serotonin-a fact that makes clear the physiological causes of Depression. Norepinephrine is another neurotransmitter that influences Depression. It regulates alertness and arousal. Depression often causes its victims to feel lethargic, which makes it clear that the norepinephrine neurotransmitter is in short supply. Dopamine is the third of these “brain messengers” that has an affect on Depression. This is a neurotransmitter that influences attention, learning, and emotion. Those with Depression often experience difficulty concentrating, which can be attributed to a lack of the dopamine neurotransmitter. It is obvious, because of the amount of these neurotransmitters in Depression victims, that neurological factors affect greatly the development of the disease.

Hormones, another physiological factor, also influences Depression. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in the body and causes a feeling of stress. It is common for sufferers of Depression to possess abnormally elevated stress levels. It turn, the same people often have higher levels of cortisol. Hormones obviously affect Depression.

Biological factors are also an influential force on the emergence of Depression. Heredity is a large aspect of the disease. It has been proven that Depression runs in families, and it is very common that those with the illness have a significant family history of the disorder. Research on Depression involving twin studies has made it clear that genes are a large factor in Depression. Researchers have placed twins who suffer from Depression in different environments. There have been numerous cases where the Depression in both of the twins persists, despite the difference in surroundings. This proves that the disease is caused by biological influences. Individuals are also more likely to suffer from Depression if they carry a “variation of a gene that regulates serotonin activity.” It is called the serotonin gene, and it impacts the same physiological and mental factors that the serotonin neurotransmitter does.

See Also

Another physiological factor that impacts the development of Depression is obesity. Leptin is a protein made by the human obesity gene (OB). It “activates several brain pathways” that carry substances that increase appetite, as well as feelings of depression. This shows that obesity, something that develops after physiological processes, and the mental illness are correlated.

Another factor that proves the significance of biological and physiological influences on Depression is the way the disease is treated. Antidepressants are the most common method of relieving Depression. The purpose of this medication is to alleviate feelings of despair, laziness, appetite fluctuations, insomnia, and thoughts of suicide.

Those with Depression have reduced levels of certain chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters). Antidepressants work to restore the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine to their normal levels, which results in an improved mood. These medications are effective in about 2/3 of those who use them. The effect of physiological factors on Depression is evident-when someone who does not have Depression is misdiagnosed and put on antidepressants, their symptoms are reversed. This is because the amounts of Depression-related chemicals in their brain are increased to a level that exceeds what is necessary for a desired mood.

Depression is a mental disease that greatly impacts the lives of those who suffer from it. It is not something to be taken lightly, and victims of the illness lead lives that lack joy. Depression is caused by several factors, the major ones being biological and physiological. These include a lack of certain neurotransmitters, hormones, and genes. Obesity can also have a negative effect on the development of the mental disorder. The treatment of the disease makes it apparent that Depression is caused by physiological processed. It is a disease that if untreated prevents the sufferer from living the life he or she desires.

Works Cited

  • Berk, Michele. “Depression.” The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2005. 2005. eLibrary. 7 Apr. 2008.
  • Bower, Bruce. “Gene Pair May Inate Obesity, Depression.” Science News. 21 Sept. 2000
  • 181. Infotrac Student Edition. 9 Apr. 2008
  • “Causes of Depression.” Helpguide. 8 Apr. 2008
  • Kindersley, Dorling. Complete Home Medical Guide. 2004.
  • Antidepressant Drugs. 9 Apr. 2008
  • Lewis, Carol. “The Lowdown on Depression.” FDA Consumer 1 Jan. 2003.
  • eLibrary. 7 Apr. 2008
  • BBQ Papers – “How Unhappy Students Beat Depression At College
  • Myers, David G. Psychology. 8th ed. New York: Worth, 2007.
  • “Understanding Depression.” Helpguide. 8 Apr. 2008
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