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How to Recognize and Treat Severe Depression

With the prevalence of depression in today’s society, it is said to be the epidemic of post-modern age. The positive side of it is that the condition is highly treatable. In fact, it is depression that most mentally ill patients seek treatment for. If depression is left untreated, the condition worsens and to the sufferer, it feels like he has reached the end. And this is sad because those who have severe depression are at high risk of suicide.

Depression is just like any other ailment. It has a range of severity, from the mild “blues” to moderately serious cases of failure to concentrate and feeling hopeless and helpless. On the other end is the severe depression where suicide and other destructive thoughts are present. Occasionally, severe depression can bring about psychotic symptoms, which include delusions or hallucinations like hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t really there. Treatments are available for any depression whether it is mild, moderate or severe, and it is to the benefit of the sufferer and his family to seek for one.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Severe Depression

In cases of severe depression, the patient would not be able to think clearly and may not be aware of his own crisis and fail to realize the gravity of his condition is. Depression in whatever form comes with persistent feelings of desolation, anguish, humiliation, remorse and despair. It is also common for the sufferer to experience loss of appetite, sleeplessness, lack of focus, tiredness and lethargy, and displeasure in the old activities that he used to enjoy.

Depression is caused by an imbalance in the brain chemicals so the severity of the symptoms varies from person to person. As the level of severity increases, the symptoms proportionately grow more serious, impairing the sufferer such that he cannot function effectively. Sometimes, it is a friend of a family member who gets to detect the presence of depression and note its seriousness. It should be stressed that expression of suicidal intent should be considered as a medical emergency and the depressed individual should be rushed to the hospital for immediate treatment.

Treating Severe Depression

Severe depression can be painful and frightening but the sufferer can still look forward to his recovery. The condition is very treatable and positive response can be obtained from most medications and psychotherapy. The antidepressants used are primarily “SSRIs” (Selected Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). These medications work by making the neurotransmitter serotonin more available in the brain thereby correcting the chemical imbalance that causes the depression. The antidepressants usually prescribed for severe depression include Prozac, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, and Effexor.

When severe depression is coupled with thoughts of committing suicide or if the patient manifests symptoms of psychoses, the attending physician normally makes use of more serious treatments. Hospitalization is usually required and the patient is placed under suicide watch. Antipsychotic medication such as Resperdol is also given. Antipsychotics are meant to do away with hallucinations and delusions, but they have some bad side effects like extreme sedation. The patient taking antipsychotic medication must be kept in the hospital and his progress is monitored daily by a psychiatrist.

In the event that medications do not work for patients with severe depression and the patient still entertains thoughts of suicide, the physicians may have to resort to the use of electro-convulsive therapy. ECT or “shock treatment” has been controversial in the past but it has evolved into a much safer mode. It has been proven to provide fast and significant benefits in many mental cases including severe depression. The method is totally painless as the patient is placed under general anesthesia. The seizure, produced by passing a very small electrical current through the brain, releases more of the neurochemicals thereby correcting any previous imbalances. After the procedure, the patient wakes up without any recollection of what he went through and does not experience any trauma at all.

More Resources:

When Depression Is Severe | Center for Advancing Health

Severe depression is life threatening. So it is worth every effort you make and every resource it may take to get depression under control and make life more manageable. For most people, that means some combination of antidepressant drugs and talk therapy.

Depression : National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Severe depression can be a life-threatening condition because it may include suicidal feelings. One study found that the risk of suicide was 7.5 times higher among persons with MS than the general population.

Severe debt can cause depression and even suicide
People experiencing severe depression from debt may feel as if no one understands what they are going through. Fortunately, many support groups exist where you can meet people in similar circumstances. On the site MeetUp.com, you can find local meetings for credit workshops, sessions for foreclosure help, debt-proof living and bankruptcy support groups. They are not necessarily anonymous, but you do not have to reveal your name if you choose not to.

Ketamine (horse tranquilizer) could cure severe depression — Health & Wellness — Sott.net
During the study, 38 patients with severe depression were treated over three weeks. 30 per cent saw their depressive symptoms lessen by 50 per cent while one in eight had complete remission.

Living in a Mad World with Severe Depression | Mental Health Talk
Upon her brother’s death, she was thrown back into the despair and madness that came with the severe depression.  The voices became more intense and she tried to kill herself, ending up in the hospital.

Depression: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
Treatment will depend on your symptoms. For mild depression, counseling and self-care may be enough. The most effective therapy for moderate or severe depression is a combination of antidepressant medication and talk therapy.

All About Depression: Overview
Suicide is considered a possible complication of depressive illness in combination with other risk factors because suicidal thoughts and behavior can be symptoms of moderate to severe depression. These symptoms typically respond to proper treatment, and usually can be avoided with early intervention for depressive illness. Any concerns about suicidal risk should always be taken seriously and evaluated by a qualified professional immediately.

Deep Brain Stimulation Successfully Treats Severe Depression | Elements
A team of neurosurgeons at Heidelberg University Hospital and psychiatrists at the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim have (for the first time) successfully treated a patient suffering from severe depression by stimulating the habenula, a tiny nerve structure in the brain. The 64-year-old woman, who had suffered from depression since age 18, could not be helped by medication or electroconvulsive therapy. Since the procedure, she is free of symptoms for the first time in years.

Popping Pills for Depression: A Buddhist View by B. Alan Wallace
Landmark research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010 indicates that the benefits of antidepressants are “nonexistent to negligible” in patients with mild, moderate and even severe depression, and that high doses of antidepressants are hardly more effective than low ones. Only in patients with very severe symptoms (about thirteen percent of people with depression) was there a statistically significant drug benefit. Consequently, worldwide sales of antidepressants, which peaked at $15 billion in 2003, are now expected to fall to under $6 billion by 2016.

Club Drug (Ketamine) Produces Exciting Benefits for Severe Depression – The People’s Pharmacy®
The effect was instantaneous and miraculous. All symptoms were completely relieved within two hours. The relief lasted about two weeks. Most of my fellow patients at NIH experienced the same. There are many doctors now using ketamine in clinical practice for severe depression. I had no trouble finding one and have since been treated with ketamine for several months.

The Difference Between Moderate and Severe Depression
Whereas dysthymia is chronic, milder, and usually has an early onset, major depressive disorder is more severe, episodic and may begin later in life. Even if a depression seems mild, it’s important to get help as soon as possible because chronic mild depression can lead to more severe depression.

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