Truth about Depression Essay

This essay has a total of 1773 words and 9 pages.

Truth about Depression

The Truth About Depression

Depression: what is it? Is it really something you can control? How much does it really
affect someone? Why do people suffer from depression? Several of these questions are
brought to the attention of various professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists,
social workers, and physicians, but not enough people seek the truth. Depression is
commonly viewed as a bad day; people either believe they have control, or they can just
snap out of it. However, depression is more than a bad day. It could be caused by a
chemical imbalance, genetics, family history, or trauma. All of these may cause symptoms;
yet, there are successful treatments available such as medications and/or psychotherapy.

A bad day- what does it consist of? Maybe things did not go the way one planned them with
friends. The telephone call never came. Perhaps a teacher surprised the class with a pop
quiz. There are many more causes to create a bad day. Nevertheless, that is all it is,
just a bad day. A definition of depression is “an emotional state in which there
are extreme feelings of sadness, dejection, lack of worth and emptiness”
(Depression, n.p.). When an individual feels “depressed,” he or she believes
that he/she can simply snap out of it by thinking happy thoughts to replace the bad
thoughts, or do something nice for him/herself such as going to a movie. After all, a
positive experience is just the thing to change the negative thoughts. Certainly, it is
just in the head, and it can be controlled! Unfortunately, depression is a lot more than
just a few bad days or sad thoughts. Snapping out of it is harder than it sounds.
“Depressed people are not merely unhappy but profoundly miserable” (Hales,
19). Depression causes individuals to feel and act out of control. Depression cannot be
controlled, however, since it controls its victim until the problem is addressed and
professional help is sought.

Most symptoms of depression are frequently overlooked. However, when one has the
opportunity to learn about, or more seriously, when opportunity is forced on the person,
the symptoms become much more obvious. The symptoms of depression range from mild to
severe. Twelve commonly known warning signs are the most identified:

Depressed people lose interest in food, friends, sex, favorite activities, or any form of pleasure.
Lack of enthusiasm, energy, or motivation
Social withdraw or isolation
Sadness or hopelessness
Confusion or difficulty with decisions
Drop in school performance
Eating or sleeping problems
Low self-esteem or guilt
Drug and/or alcohol abuse
Problems with authority
Anxiety or phobias
Perfectionism and restlessness (APA, 327).
The DSM-IV states that if five or more of these symptoms exist in one’s life for a
span exceeding two weeks, this is considered an episode of depression. “When you
are depressed, nothing works out the way you hope. Whatever you try to do seems to go
wrong. After a few failures, you begin to think that nothing will ever work out. Soon
you’re asking yourself, ‘Why bother trying? I know I am going to
fail’”(Ayer, 10).

There are many different causes of ‘depression’ that range from genetics to
family history. A chemical imbalance in a person’s brain or a trauma that could
have occurred earlier in a person’s life, or even more recently, are examples within
this range. The exact cause of depression is still being researched. Genetics is still
an unresolved topic for researchers; they have identified genetic markers for
manic-depressive disorder on different chromosomes, but have yet to identify a specific
gene for any depressive disorder (Hales, 48). Although genetic and family histories sound
familiar, they are different when dealing with depression. It is stated that two-thirds
of depressed patients have family members who have suffered from depression.
“Although mild depression does not seem to be inherited, more serious forms run in
families” (Hales, 48). Another study done the epidemiologist Myrna Weissman of
Columbia University suggests that adolescents with depressed parents are at a higher risk
for developing major depression or another psychiatric disorder. These adolescents also
tend to show symptoms of these disorders much earlier in their life than a child whose
parent did not suffer from depression (Hales, 48).

There are a few identified types of neurochemicals called neurotransmitters. This
substance carries impulses between nerve cells. A group of pathways in the nervous system
closely related to depression is called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine pathways are
released from the end terminal of one nerve cell, and pass across a small space called the
synaptic cleft, to a receptor on the adjacent nerve cell; that is where the electrical
impulse is stimulated. Some of the norepinephrine is absorbed into the cell and the rest
is broken down into smaller molecules or metabolized (Oltmanns, 189). The nerve cell has
nerve terminals, which have their own receptor sites, which are sensitive to
norepinephrine, and they tell it to shut down production. In depressed patients, this
neurotransmitter is either “oversensitive or insensitive.” Therefore, when it
is functioning poorly, and put under stress, symptoms of depression can result. Another
brain chemical, which a depressed person’s body may not produce properly, is
serotonin. This chemical enables brain cells to communicate with each other. An
imbalance of serotonin may cause the symptoms of sleep problems, irritability, and or
anxiety, which are suffered by many depressed patents (Oltmanns, 189).
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