Depression: Symptoms, Treatment

Types of Depression

Depression may be characterized as moderate or severe, depending upon the symptoms. Moderatedepression (dysthymia) may be difficult for the sufferer to self-diagnose. The best clues come via inferences based on observations: people are more difficult to deal with; the drivers on the roads are worse than ever; my boss is more unreasonable; there are more weeds than flowers in the garden.

Symptoms of Moderate Depression

The primary symptom of moderate depression is increased irritability, the result of emotional fatigue. I sometimes characterize moderate depression as being like viewing the world through a tinted, seamless bubble. Everything appears to be a shade darker, yet it is impossible to tell from the inside that one's view is in any way compromised.

Someone has also described moderate depression as being like trying to drive the boat while the anchor is down: it?s possible, but takes much more energy. An estimated 20 to 30 million Americans live with untreated symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of Severe Depression

Severe depression, (major depression, clinical depression) is simpler to assess. Feelings of hopelessness and despair roll like dark waves over the soul. It is difficult to continue with daily life tasks. Getting out of bed in the morning seems impossible. Life has no meaning, and death seems preferable to the dark dull anguish of depression. Major depression is the #1 psychological problem in the Western world.

Treatment Options for Depression

Great strides have been made in the treatment of depressive symptoms over the past twenty years. The biochemical basis of depression has been more clearly identified, and effective medicines treat depressed mood with fewer life-compromising side effects.

Cognitive-behavioral therapies give the depressed person powerful tools to assess and modify the thoughts, core beliefs, or statements to the self which may create and maintain the depressed state. Active approaches to treatment recognize the manifold causality of depression and make use of multiple interventions to initiate treatment gains and prevent relapse.

Research on depression treatments consistently shows that a combination of properly prescribed medication and consistent psychotherapy yields a better result than either medication or therapy alone.

Self Help Books on Depression

The memoirs, books, and workbooks listed in the self-help section on depression are not substitutes for medical and psychological treatment, but they are valuable adjuncts to therapy. In milder cases, they are powerful tools to help the sufferer master his or her depressive symptoms.