Low Serotonin Levels
Appetite, sleep, interest, suicidal thoughts, guilt, agitation/retardation – these are the components that make or break a diagnosis of depression. There are many forms of depression: Major Depressive Disorder, Situational Depression, Major Depressive Episodes, Substance-induced Depression, Bipolar Depression, Pseudodementia, etc. It is hypothesized that serotonin is in low quantities in the synaptic cleft of neurons, which results in depressive symptoms. Depression is not just an emotional event; actual brain chemistry is changed at the neuronal and receptor levels in the brain.
People experience depression in many ways. Some quit their jobs and lay in bed all day while others are still functional; some unfortunately commit suicide. It is not clear what the exact source of depression is. Environmental triggers definitely contribute to it: loss of a loved one, substances of abuse, accidents, loss of a job, etc. But others may be genetically predisposed; especially if their family members have depression.
Is depression curable? Curable is a strong word. I’m not sure if anything is curable. But it is treatable and manageable. Psychotherapy and antidepressants together is a stronger therapy than either alone. Prozac, Lexapro and Wellbutrin are some of the antidepressants you may have heard of; they work great, but for some people, even that is not enough. Some people may require ECT: electroconvulsive therapy. ECT involves 12-20 sessions of shocks delivered to the brain. Believe it or not, it works! I had a patient in Baltimore, Maryland who was doing better on it. It is time that we come together and eliminate the stigma of ECT and antidepressants; we must utilize all approaches and help each other along the way.
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)