Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common medical condition that affects approximately 14.8 million adults, or as much as 6.7% of the US population, each year. While everyone feels sad or blue every once in a while, patients with depression experience constant feelings of sadness or emptiness nearly everyday for a period of at least two weeks. Patients of all ages can be affected by this condition, although it is most common in those between the ages of 15 and 44.
It is important for patients with symptoms of depression to seek a proper diagnosis and treatment from a healthcare professional. Depression is a real medical condition that should not be taken lightly. If left untreated, depression can last for many years and may worsen over time. Fortunately, symptoms of depression can often be improved with the use of antidepressants, psychotherapy or TMS therapy.
Causes of Depression
Caused by a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental and psychological factors, this condition tends to affect those with a family history of depression or diseases, and can also occur after a traumatic even or in conjunction with other conditions. It is believed that patients with depression suffer from an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain that influence mood, which impairs effective communication between nerve cells.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Symptoms of depression can vary from patient to patient, and often affect mood, behavior and physical functioning. Some of the most common symptoms include:
Feeling sad or hopeless
Loss of interest in normal activities
Aches and pains
A depressed mood and loss of interest in pleasurable activities are considered to be key features in a diagnosis of depression. In addition to these symptoms, patients also tend to experience difficulties with their work, social life or other important aspects of life. Dr. Brottman will determine whether or not a diagnosis of depression can be made after discussing these symptoms with the patient during a one-on-one consultation.
Depression is not the same for everyone
A diagnosis of depression does not require patients to experience all of the symptoms listed above. Patients may experience depression differently depending on their age, gender, personal history and other factors. For example, women with depression are more likely to experience guilt, weight gain, anxiety, eating disorders and sleep abnormalities as compared to men suffering from depression. Older adults tend to experience feelings of sadness or emptiness, and often develop depression as a side effect of other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and more.
Some patients may experience symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or other conditions at the same time. Customized treatment is available to help all patients return to a happier and healthier mental state.
Find the treatment that’s right for you
Even the most severe cases of depression can be effectively treated under the care of an experienced doctor. Earlier treatment can improve the likelihood of success and reduce the risk of recurring symptoms. Dr. Brottman performs a thorough evaluation of each patient’s individual treatment before determining whether or not they are an ideal candidate for TMS therapy.
Getting the most out of treatment
Follow through on your treatment. Never stop your medication without first talking to your healthcare professional.
Make and keep follow-up appointments with your healthcare professional during TMS therapy. He or she needs to know how your treatment is going, if you’re feeling better, and if you’re experiencing any side effects. Keep a journal and take it with you to your appointment.
Take advantage of resources available in your community and online—support groups and educational materials.
Try to exercise. Even mild exercise like walking 30 minutes a day may have a positive effect on depression. If you miss a day, don’t get down on yourself. Simply do it the next day.
Try to get out of the house and be around people, even if you’re not feeling up to it. Your illness makes you feel withdrawn, but don’t let it govern your behavior. Go to a movie, go to the mall, or call a friend.