People every day are diagnosed with mental and emotional illnesses that completely change their lives. Depression is one of the many illnesses that take its toll on an average person. Medical experts believe that depression causes more disability throughout the world than almost any other medical illness or disorder (World Book). Depression affects more Americans than cancer, AIDS, or coronary heart disease. About one in five Americans will develop a mood disorder, usually depression, at some point in his or her life (O. Hyde and Forsyth 7). In some cases chemicals that brain cells use to communicate are out of balance and causes depression (CQ Researcher). Many recognized with this sickness may not believe they can live a normal life. However a patient diagnosed with depression can lead a normal life by taking medication, different types of therapy, and gaining support from family and friends. “How did my sister fall through a hole in her life and into some other life below?”(Schumacher 3). Depression brings about feelings other than sadness that affects a patient each and every day. “‘I can’t describe it,’ Dora said. ‘I don’t know how’” (Schumacher 40).
People dealing with this illness find it hard to explain the feeling. “It’s like being trapped and you feel completely stuck, it really effects how you think every day” (Anonymous). When one is depressed they feel miserable and lose interest in all activity. “All I wanted to do was sleep; I never wanted to go out and lost a lot of connection from my friends” (Anonymous). “‘A drowning person doesn’t rescue herself,’ I said… I pictured Dora Struggling and drowning. ‘Which is why it’s so important-for your sister and for everyone else-that she learn to swim’” (Schumacher 116). Depression is always described as being lost or being stuck in a black hole, it seems like there is no way out of it, but with a little help there is.
Doctors are now able to diagnose and treat depression with medications better than they were before (CQ Researcher). “It depends on the severity you have it, for more severe cases medication is definitely helpful. Depression, in most cases is just a chemical imbalance and taking medication can balance everything out and make you feel more normal” (Anonymous). Antidepressants are the category of medication used to help treat the chemical imbalance that causes depression. Taking medications, such as antidepressants, is not necessary in all cases of this illness. “My mom definitely had a more severe case than I did, she took medication and you could tell the difference in her mood drastically changed and she spent more time with us as opposed to when she wasn’t taking antidepressants” (Anonymous). Antidepressants increase the attentiveness of neurotransmitters in the brain. Antidepressants do not work immediately. After numerous weeks of treatment the receptors become less sensitive and depression lifts (World Book). There are three different types of antidepressants. One type is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), which is one of the newer drugs that aid depression.
SSRI’s prevent brain cells from reabsorbing extra neurotransmitters after the chemicals have delivered their messages. It focuses on one specific neurotransmitter alone, serotonin (O. Hyde and H. Forsyth 54). Another type is tricyclic antidepressants (TCA’s) which along with SSRI’s stops the brain from receiving excessive neurotransmitters, but this category focuses on two types of neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine (O. Hyde and H. Forsyth 53). Tricyclic refers to the chemical structure of the compounds.
The third type of antidepressant is monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s) which inhibit a protein that breaks down excess neurotransmitters, norepinephrine (World Book). Patients on monoamine oxidase norepinephrine have to avoid foods containing tyramine (O. Hyde and H. Forsyth 55). These three types of antidepressants all help to chemically balance the brain and helps put a patient back on track to live a normal life. Although antidepressants bring stability to a depressed person there are some side effects. Some side effects include weight loss, weight gain, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, sweating, tremor, sleep disturbances, blurred vision, seizures, and yawning (Schumacher 106).
A bunch of the side effects are major but are mostly non-persistent or might not even occur. Some see the side effects not being worth it. “My mom saw that living a more normal life was worth a few side effects that probably weren’t going to happen” (Anonymous). Therapy is another way patients with depression can cope. There are two different types of therapy a person suffering depression can take on. Many patients benefit from psychotherapy which can focus on improving thinking, problem solving, improving personal relationships, or increasing enjoyable activities (World Book). Psychotherapy helps depression caused mostly by an emotional imbalance. Cognitive therapy is a branch of psychotherapy that is based off the idea that depressed people have distorted views of the world, the future and themselves.
It helps correct the negative thoughts that are developed in the brain of a patient. Behavioral therapy is another subdivision of psychotherapy used. Behavioral therapy is similar to cognitive therapy in that it alters ones thought patterns and changes their behavior. One last stem of psychotherapy is psychodynamic therapy which takes people into their past to find out unresolved problems and helps a person understand and cope with their conflicts (O. Hyde and H. Forsyth 67). “At first I felt awkward talking to someone I didn’t know, even though there was a confidentially thing it was hard to trust my therapist. After a while though, it was good talk and get things out, it helped with my mild depression and self-harm I went through” (Anonymous). Talking to a therapist helps the mind of a depressed patient get back to where it needs to be. If medication and psychotherapy fail, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be prescribed by a doctor. Electroconvulsive therapy was also previously known as electroshock therapy.
Electroconvulsive therapy is for patients who haven’t responded to any other treatment. It uses electrically induced seizures for a therapeutic effect. Before the procedure anesthesia is typically given so that the patient doesn’t experience any uneasiness or feel the electric current and knowingly experience the seizure. The use of ECT is to treat hospitalized patients who remain severely depressed with suicidal thoughts. Electroconvulsive therapy commonly restores these depressed patients to a normal mental state (World Book). Most patients who use ETC and do not follow it up with medication will relapse back into a depressed state. Physicians have no idea how ETC brings one out of depression. Many patients who severely suffer from depression feel that the treatment of electroconvulsive therapy is worth the risk (O. Hyde and H. Forsyth 66). Another way a depressed person can strive to live a normal life is to gain support from friends and family. “‘Do me a favor?’ She asked, with her mouth by my ear. ‘Sure,’ I said ‘Name it.’ ‘Save me,’ she said” (Schumacher 29). If a patient knows that they always have friends and family to fall back on if they need anything then it makes one feel more comfortable.
“Friends helped me a lot; they understood me on a different level than my family did. My family sometimes didn’t understand the reasons why I was depressed and upset and they never knew what to say to me because it affected them also” (Anonymous). Times when a depressed person can’t turn to their therapist they always have friends and family around to support them. If family and friends do not treat the patient like they have an illness then they are less likely to feel out of place in everyday activities. If others surrounding the person suffering from depression act different towards them it won’t help in the process for them to exist in a normal life. “I’ve read this quote somewhere and I loved it, ‘People who are not depressed see the world the way they want to see it. People who are depressed see the world the way it actually is.’ It seems relevant” (Anonymous). Depression changes a patient’s entire life. They are left exhausted physically and emotionally and not wanting to do anything. The illness brings out emotions in a person that is indescribable.
They think about all the bad things in reality and not the things that make life happier. All the conflicting emotions may make it look as if it’s impossible to lead a normal functioning life. Having a regular being is not unfeasible to achieve with a little help. Depression can be a chemical or emotional imbalance, or maybe a combination of both. “Some things bring it out more than other things” (Anonymous). However a patient diagnosed with depression can lead a normal life by taking medication such as antidepressants, trying different types of therapy like psychotherapy or electroconvulsive therapy, and gaining positive support from family and friends. “At first it was truly one of the toughest battles I had to go through, especially because of the history with my mom dealing with it, slowly but surely I conquered through it, no one treats me differently, it’s normal” (Anonymous).
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