Psychological Disorder: Depression Essay Sample
Introduction to Depression
Depression is a serious condition marked by sadness, discontentment, despair, worry and pessimism, misery among others. Unlike a typical sadness or heartache, clinical depression is unrelenting and negatively interferes with thinking, emotion, behavior and over all functioning of an individual. As such, depression cannot be simply eliminated by ones own volition or be addressed by intentional disregard else, it will persist and can result to health and mental impairments or worse, suicidal tendencies.
There are basically three levels of depression representing its common mood disorders namely: major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and manic depression or bipolar disorder, which further varies in terms of sternness and persistence of its different types of symptoms. (Shafii M and Shafii S., 1992)
A major depression is the most acute form of depression that involves a loss of appetite for happiness and pleasure or loss of enthusiasm or interest to live one’s life so to speak. It is marked by low mood, low self esteem, loss of energy that is further manifested by a change in appetite resulting to weight loss, lack of sleep or oversleeping, difficulty in concentrating and withdrawal from the social environment. The depressed person feels one’s life worthless which may trigger thoughts of ending one’s life.
A less severe depression is Dysthymia, which basically have similar characteristics and symptoms with a major depression except that the depressed person has remained in his/ her rationality or senses. It is often long term condition however does not totally disable the person to function a normal life. However, depressed condition still affects the quality and quantity of effort, output and general productivity of the person. If left unchecked, People with dysthymia are inclined to experience a major breakdown that can lead to a major depression sometime.
Manic Depression or Bipolar disorder is a relatively rare depressive disorders that is characterized by mood swings – extreme high or happiness (manic) and extreme lows or melancholy (depression). (Castle, L. 2001) It is regarded as bipolar as the depressed person suddenly changes its condition in the opposite ends or intensities of the pole. When depressed, the individual demonstrates the typical symptoms of depression e.g. feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness and helplessness, lack of interest of pleasurable activities, diminished energy, restiveness, tetchiness and even physical symptoms like headaches and stomach aches.
When manic, the individual professes excessive energy and over talkativeness to an extent of committing inappropriate social behavior or actions. This includes excessive elation, less sleep, impossible opinions or dreams, augmented energy and poor judgment Because of its bipolar nature, people suffering from manic depression are also at risk of developing psychosis.
Other common mood disorders include Postpartum Depression which is the stress among women after pregnancy, Adjustment Disorders which is emotional stress caused mainly by one’s inability to cope with changes in the environment i.e. culture, life, love among others and Seasonal Affective Disorder or depression that occurs with change of seasons or climate.
Causes of Depression
There are different causes of depression. Some depression is genetic meaning it can be inherited and pass into generations of families. This seems especially valid for manic depression. Depression is a likely tendency for people with low self esteem which may on other hand be caused by lack of education, poverty, physical impairments e.g. abnormalities and sickness underlying disease such as Cancer or HIV. Low self esteem can also be cause by emotional factors or traumatic events or bad experiences of a person such as rape, incest, family violence among others. (Minirth F and Meier P. 2007) Depression can also be caused by sociological factors or events that post a straining shock to a person such as bereavement or death of a loved one, bankruptcy, stress at work or war and other vicious events. (Schwartz A. and Schwartz R, 1993) Depression can also be caused by hormonal changes in the body such as pregnancy among women and adolescence among teenagers. Also, depression is common among the elderly e.g. late-onset depression who are prone to it because of boredom and less activity causing disconnection from the modern active life.
Effects of Depression
Depression generally affects the normal functioning of people. For teenagers for instance, depression can lead to juvenile delinquency or deviant behavior of the youth. Depression is aligned with the Strain theory where the motivation to commit crime defeats the restraints such as of morality (Sykes, G. and Matza, D., 1957). Severe disappointment or frustration or depression can conquer moral constraints and drive a person to go mad. Obsession to a person can cause intense emotional pain if dumped. The immaturity or lack of experience of a young person in controlling oneself or one’s emotions may push him to rebel to society. Depression can also cause a person to alienate oneself from society which internally frees a person to commit delinquent acts because one’s ties to conventional order have somehow been broken. Depression can cause voluntary social detachment of a person from the conventional society.
Substance abuse is another effect of depression. Depressed people resort to the use of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs to fight depression or avoid the depressed states. In liquors, alcohol is the chemical substance which is the intoxicating by-product of fermentation. This intoxicating effect is manifested in inebriation. When drinking liquor, the alcohol absorbed the bloodstream and all the body tissues that cause dizziness and talkativeness. It also significantly impairs the judgment and body coordination thus resulting to a “disinhibiting” effect that depressed people seek for. (Watson, R.R., 1989)
In cigarettes, tar and nicotine are the harmful chemical elements. Nicotine as an addictive drug momentarily raises a person’s blood pressure and heart rate while it narrows the arteries that decrease the blood flow to body extremities. The smoke contains carbon monoxide which decreases the oxygen that our blood carries to our body that causes dizziness and nausea. It destroys our appetite because it raises the acid in our stomachs. Smoking (Edlin, G et al, 2000) Because of these effects, depressed people actually try to fight depression by its perceived relaxing effect.
Finally, drugs addiction can be a consequence of depression because one of the recreational effects of marijuana is euphoria. It induces a feeling of elation or well-being that is not based on reality and is commonly exaggerated which is helpful for people suffering from anxiety and depression to place them in a state of high spirits. (Josefson, D., 2001). However, excessive use of marijuana can impair attention and coordination of the mind. Extreme consciousness to the environment can result to paranoia or an irrational fear, suspicion, or distrust of others. Moreover, high doses of marijuana can distort ones perception thereby resulting to hallucinations.
Generally, depression distorts the concentration, rational thinking, emotional balance and physical capacity of a person that has repercussions in one’s conduct of daily activities. A depressed person’s ability to concentrate can apparently affect one’s study in school. At work, it affects one’s productivity that can result to resignation. At home, a depressed person’s abnormal reactions i.e. irritability can lead to family violence. Finally, the depressed person can be motivated to commit suicide to end one’s unfathomable sorrow.
Treatment of Depression
Treatment to depression is dependent on type and severity of the disorder. However, most common and effective treatments for patients with major depression and manic depression may be are antidepressant medications, psychotherapy and electro convulsive therapy (ECT). On the other hand, people suffering from dysthymic depression can be treated with psychotherapy.
Antidepressant medications are used rectify chemical imbalances in the brain particularly the neurotransmitters which are important in transmission of messages and information to other nerves. The most common antidepressants include the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) which is usually the first-line treatment, stimulants, lithium, and other mood stabilizers.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is especially used as treatment for depressed people who are resistant to medication or have suicidal tendencies. (Weissman, M. 2001) This is implemented by passing current in the brains of the patient that relaxes the brain muscles to correct memory disturbances that occurred. This treatment last from two to three treatments a week and is supplemented by medications
Finally the counseling and therapy is the traditional treatment that is often used to supplement medication and ECT. Counseling is a procedure for the provision of support and advancement of a person’s character or self-image through the submission or identification of possible explanations of the emotional and psychological problems that obstructs and perplexes objectivity of the person concerned. It includes offering expert opinion as well as plans to address the identified problems. Psychoanalytic Therapy emphasizes the dynamics of the interplay between the conscious and unconscious psyche of a person and the external world. (Badal, D. 2003)
It focuses on personality or how the person prefers to behave. A person’s psychological make-up always works in the conscious and the unconscious levels representing a person’s ‘whole being’. Procedures for psychotherapy involve seeking the patterns or significant events that may have influence a client’s present troubles. These events play a critical role in the psychological make up and maladaptive behaviors of clients. On the other hand, the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy focus on behavior which is an observable activity or tendency of a person in relation or reaction to his environment based on his preconceptions and understanding of the circumstances at hand. It seeks to find the irrational patters of thinking and defective perceptions that a client has which caused psychological impairments.
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