Major depression

November 12, 2012

Major depression

As the name suggests, major depression is the most severe form of depression. Someone suffering from this condition would have similar symptoms to those suffering from depression only to a more severe extent. Major depression may occur suddenly as a reaction to a traumatic event or alternatively can develop and progress slowly as the consequence of a sequence of disappointments or personal problems. The symptoms of major depression may occur in some people without the occurrence of an obvious life crisis while others may have had symptoms of less severe forms of depression for an extended period of time until a trigger caused the symptoms to increase in intensity. Some sufferers will only experience major depression once in their lifetime. In these cases it is known as single episode depression. Most commonly these people experience a psychological trauma, are treated appropriately and make a full and permanent recovery. In other people major depression can be recurrent. Most of the time in these cases, the sufferer makes a full recovery after the first psychological trauma and fine for a number of years. Often another life crisis or trauma triggers the depression to return, in which case they will treated in the same way but may be advised to continue with the treatment for longer than previously. There is much debate amongst medial professionals as to whether major depression can only be caused by an external event triggering psychological trauma or if it is possible that there are also biological causes. When there is no apparent presence of a psychological cause is it referred to as endogenous depression. Possible biological causes may be due to genetics or some kind of malfunction in the brain chemistry. All kinds of depression involve a change in the brain chemistry, regardless of the cause. Once the sufferer has recovered from the depression, their brain chemistry will go back to normal. Medication is not always required to achieve this, often over time normal brain chemistry will return of its own accord. There is still a lack of evidence to support the idea of endogenous depression. Sometimes the term is also used to describe people who don’t respond well to treatment or for patients who benefit from medical treatment more so than psychotherapy. In most cases of major depression, the patient responds to medication most effectively when it is combined with psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy. In this situation the medication is treating the symptoms whilst the psychotherapy targets the root of the depression. Research has found that the most effective single treatment for depression is cognitive therapy over other forms of therapy of medication. However, most people respond the best to a combination of the two. It is very rare that it makes sense to prescribe medication without some therapy, as it is still widely considered that there must be a psychological trigger of some kind causing the major depression. Some people continue to take medication after completing psychotherapy treatment. Only your physician should prescribe medication but your psychologist may recognise when medication is needed and refer you to your doctor.

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