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Depression & Mood

Depression:  When a person's feelings of sadness persist beyond a few weeks, he or she may have depression. National Institute for Mental Health reports that three to four million men are affected by depression and depression affects twice as many women.  According to Dr. Michael Yapko PhD, there are many different factors that contribute to depression or mood disorders.  The three main factors are biological factors (genetic contributions, biochemical contributions), psychological factors (individual temperament, coping style, attributional style and personal history) and the social factors that contribute to depression (quality of your relationships, the culture in which you live).


The symptoms of depression involve changes in appetite and sleeping patterns; feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and inappropriate guilt; loss of interest or pleasure in formerly important activities; fatigue; inability to concentrate; overwhelming sadness; disturbed thinking; physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches; and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.  If a person has four or more of these symptoms and those symptoms have been present for more than 2 weeks, then it is serious enough to require treatment. Major depression is marked by far more severe symptoms, such as literally being unable to drag oneself out of bed. Another form of depression, known as seasonal affective disorder, is associated with seasonal changes in the amount of available daylight.


Using a bio-psycho-social treatment model acknowledges the different causes of depression and allows a more effective outcome.  Traditional psychotherapy treatments help to identify issues that contribute to your depression and change the behaviors that negatively impact your life.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy incorporate effective strategies to reduce depression while Hypnosis and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) are treatment modalities that help individuals replace negative beliefs with healthy, positive ones and find better ways to cope and solve problems.  Complementary and alternative mind body therapy treatments help individuals feel healthier, feel more emotionally and socially empowered, and helps to maintain a conscious awareness of the importance of having a balanced mind-body connection.  Some examples of mind-body techniques that may be helpful for depression include acupuncture, relaxation technics/guided imagery, yoga, tai chi, meditation, most forms of exercise, and spirituality. 


Bipolar Disorder:  There are two types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar I disorder involves periods of severe mood episodes from mania to depression. Bipolar II disorder is a milder form of mood elevation, involving milder episodes of hypomania that alternate with periods of severe depression.  Bipolar I is described as having extreme mood swings of mania and depression scattered by periods of generally even-keeled behavior. Bipolar disorder tends to run in families and typically begins in the mid-twenties and continues throughout life. If left untreated, bipolar disorder can cause devastating life events. Some of the symptoms of a manic episode include expansive or irritable mood, inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep; increased energy; racing thoughts; feelings of invulnerability; poor judgment, heightened sex drive; and denial that anything is wrong. Depressive symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, or melancholy; fatigue; loss of appetite for food or sex; sleep disturbances, thoughts of death or suicide; and suicide attempts. Mania and depression may vary in both duration and degree of intensity.


Eighty to ninety percent of people who have bipolar disorder can be treated effectively with medication and psychotherapy. Obtaining emotional support and assistance in recognizing signs of relapse to avert a full-blown episode of bipolar disorder can be very beneficial. The most commonly prescribed medications to treat bipolar disorder are three mood stabilizers: lithium carbonate, carbamazepine, and valproate. Cognitive/behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy has been shown to be as effective as medications for some people who have depression. Special bright light helps many people who have seasonal affective disorder.

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