Depression symptoms & effects
How does depression work?
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Dr. Divya Shree K.R
Psychiatrist 15 yrs exp Bangalore
If you have been depressed for long, you will probably be totally confused by what is happening to you. And that is truly terrifying. This is mainly because depression is a complex disease.It’s believed that several forces interact to bring on depression.Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, depression has many possible causes, most importantly faulty mood regulation by the brain. Depression would affect the way you think, behave and your emotional status. Our thoughts have a very powerful effect on how we feel and behave. Think about what happens if you hear a noise at night and believe someone is breaking into your house,you immediately feel highly anxious and your body goes into fight or flight mode. But what if you hear the noise and think that it’s just the cat? Very different feelings in response to the same event.There are a number of common depressed thinking habits or ‘thinking errors’ which help depression to flourish and which in turn are reinforced by depression. Can you identify in yourself any of these unhelpful ways of thinking? Most depressed thinking habits contain an element of mental filtering or ‘tunnel vision’, where only one part of a situation is focused on and the rest is ignored. The tendency is to focus on the negative aspects or interpretations of a situation and to ignore alternative ways of seeing things. Depressed behaviour is when our natural ‘fight or flight’ response goes into overdrive or fuels behaviour which is not helpful for solving the problem.Avoidance is a common response to ‘control-freakery’ types of depressed thinking. But over-dependence on the ‘flight’ response to perceived threats is a particularly risky habit. It makes the anxiety get worse, and can eventually lead to complete inertia or even agoraphobia (ie. being unable to go out). At this point you must be wondering as to how depression affects our thoughts, behaviour and emotions to such an extent. There is no single cause for depression, but research suggests four factors from which it likely results --> Genetic --> Biochemical --> Psychological and --> Environmental. The fact that this condition runs in families is also consistent with the biological cause for mood disorders.There are many chemicals involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. Millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up a dynamic system in our body is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life. These are often disrupted in depression. To add to this, there are also a number of neuroendocrine dysregulations seen in patients with this condition. Psychological factors such as pessimism and low self-esteem contribute too. These characteristics, combined with environmental stressors such as relationships, illness, financial problems or major life events, contribute to patterns of depressive illness. These triggers are seen more commonly in individuals in mid 40s and women, hence there is a two fold increase in the prevalence of this condition in women.Depression's onset is frequently a combination of these four factors. Brain cells usually produce levels of neurotransmitters that keep senses, learning, movements, and moods perking along. But in people with the above contributing factors this goes awry For example, receptors may be over sensitive or insensitive to a specific neurotransmitter, causing their response to its release to be excessive or inadequate. Or a message might be weakened if the originating cell pumps out too little of a neurotransmitter or if an overly efficient reuptake mops up too much before the molecules have the chance to bind to the receptors on other neurons. hence any of these system faults could significantly affect mood in these individuals
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