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Depression Essay Sample

Depression refers to a state, which is characterized by low moods and aversion to activity that has an adverse effect on the victim’s thoughts, performance, way of thinking, and physical well-being. In many instances, depression generates feelings of desperation, wretchedness, anxiety, worthlessness, guiltiness, and irritability. Often, the victims of depression lose interest in activities that they treasured, or they may suffer from cognitive impairments, which is often characterized by such symptoms as loss of concentration, and difficulty in remembering details and making decisions. Often, depression victims may consider or make suicide attempts, and in some severe cases of depression, victims are likely to lose weight drastically. Furthermore, there are instances where the victims suffer from insomnia, disproportionate sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy and feeling unnecessarily tired, and may suffer from persistent aches and digestive problems, which are resistant to medication. Numerous researches have been undertaken to try to understand the issue of depression, its management, and treatment; understanding depression can best be achieved by understanding the three issues.

Depression is no longer a problem, which affects the victim’s moods; new researches conducted on the effects of depression indicate that depression can lead to various diseases. In instances when a victim suffers from elevated depressive symptoms, this increases the victim’s risk of developing dementia. A single episode of depression increases the chances of developing dementia by more than 87 percent, while two or more episodes of depression increase the risk to more than 200 percent. Depression affects over 19 million United States citizens; this indicates that almost 10 percent of the population suffers from depression at any one time (Narrow, Rae, & Robins et al., 2002). Furthermore, it has been established that more women than men suffer from depression. Depression has been linked to chest inflammation and kidney disease; this finding has increased the severity of the condition. The main depression treatment forms are anti-depressants; however, in many instances they have proved ineffective. Additionally, they have produced severe side effects, while, in some instances, they have aggravated the problem.

The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Depression

The effects of depression can be classified into two major categories: the physiological and psychological effects on the depressed patient. Depression is considered a disease due to the physical effects suffered by depressed persons. The physical signs of depression are critical in completing the cycle of depression, a cycle that has often puzzled both the victims and their closest family and friends. However, the emotional torture, which is produced by depressive thinking is the one that makes the victims more exhausted; thus, reducing their effectiveness in coping with depression. The most common physical symptoms of depression, which are evident in almost all patients, are chronic fatigue, an increase in physical aches that have no apparent source, and increased vulnerability to diseases. Depression often feels like a physical disorder since it is overly exhausting and the patients suffer from physical pain.

Human bodies are rejuvenated and repaired during sleep. However, the lack of deep sleep, a characteristic common to all depression victims due to significant time that is spent in REM, denies them an opportunity of deep sleep. Therefore, without an ample time to sleep, their bodies lack the necessary rejuvenation. This weakens the immune system, making the patients easily susceptible to diseases. Furthermore, the sustained increase in stress hormones adversely affects the patients; it suppresses their immune system.

Presently, depression and neurochemical serotonin are closely linked in the minds of many people. This is a fact that has been advanced, more so, with the advent of SSRIs. The most famous SSRI is Prozac, and it is believed that the medication works by blocking the re-uptake of serotonin from the discharging neuron. However, the most grievous mistake is the assumption that the absence of serotonin causes depression, and reliance on drugs as the long-term solution for relieving depression. If a depression episode results in a variation of the serotonin levels, as they often do, this affects the patient’s pain threshold. Serotonin aids in fighting pain; therefore, the lack of serotonin in the body increases the patient’s susceptibility to pain. This is the reason for the common back pain complaints by many depression patients. Furthermore, serotonin is critical in sleep modulation; thus, the lack of serotonin causes sleep disturbances in the patients. This explains the erratic sleep patterns, which characterize depression patients.

The physiological symptoms of depression are not straightforward. For instance, depression can cause significant changes in the patient’s body such as slowing down the digestion process, which may cause stomach problems. Thus, many depression patients do not look for help. Furthermore, the numerous physiological effects of depression cause people to look for relief from drugs. Serotonin is an effective sleep regulator, and pain and mood receptor; however, an increase or decrease of serotonin can have a huge effect. However, the grievous danger is developing reliance on drugs rather than look for a solution to the root cause of depression.  

Depression is often perceived as a psychological condition, with many people ignoring the physiological components of depression. Thus, depression is majorly characterized and associated with psychological effects, and these are the effects, which are understood by the majority of people. The most common symptoms of depression can make work and life intolerable. Depression can skew the victim’s perception of the world making him or her perceive everything as hopeless. Furthermore, depression can make the victim feel utterly lonely. The most common psychological effects of depression are feeling sad, hopeless, and sad; the loss of interest in things that were previously interesting; irritability and anxiety; difficulty in making decisions; feelings of guilt and worthlessness; and death and suicidal thoughts (Horwarth, Johnson, Klerman, et al., 1992).

Bipolar depression is another form of depression, which has its unique effects. However, the most prevalent effect is that it causes mood swings in the patient. Other symptoms include amplified energy levels with a reduced need for sleep; an exaggerated belief in one’s abilities; extreme irritability; hasty and impulsive emotional changes; and reduced inhibitions with consequent impulsive and thoughtless activities, which often produce damaging effects.

In cases of severe depression, medication is critical, and may even be life saving. There are various depression treatments; they include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), and Atypical Antidepressants, Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) (Shah, Eisner, Farrell, & Raeder, 2008). There are instances where anti-depressants have proved to be effective. In severe depression cases, SSRAs can be an effective form of medication to improve concentration, and to regain the lost appetite. Furthermore, the antidepressants are an effective way of relieving the debilitating symptoms, which characterize depression. However, anti-depressants should only be taken in severe depression cases due to their numerous side effects. The most commonly prescribed anti-depressants are SSRIs, and they work on serotonin, a chemical, which is released in the brain. Serotonin plays a significant role in digestion, pain relief, sleep, and mental clarity among other physical functions. However, deriving serotonin from SSRIs has numerous side effects. The most common side effects include sexual problems, lethargy, sleeping difficulties, and nausea. However, some of the symptoms may disappear within a few days of drug treatments, there are instances where the effects have persisted and gotten worse. 

Depression Treatment: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s)

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors commonly abbreviated, as SSRI’s are a group of compounds that have been used in the world of medicine as antidepressants. They are used to treat personality and anxiety disorders but most importantly, clinical depression. In some instances, they have been successfully used to treat insomnia cases. Anxiety disorders, for example, panic disorders, social anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is treated with SSRI’s.

Mode of Action

SSRI’s act by raising the level of extracellular neurotransmitter, serotonin; thus, they block its reuptake by the presynaptic cells. The result is that the levels of serotonin increase in the synaptic cleft and consequently the transmitter binds to the postsynaptic receptor. There is a variety of drugs used as SSRI’s and their selectivity degrees for the monoamine transporter are variable. It is important to note that pure SSRI’s have a very low affinity for dopamine and noradrenaline transporter. The three common drugs that will be discussed are Fluoxetine, Paxil, and Zoloft

Fluoxetine

Its common name is Prozac, a medication used to treat depression, panic disorder and the obsessive-compulsive disorder among other illnesses (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999).

Positive Effects

An eight-week long double-blinded trial of Fluoxetine on depressed patients helped to alleviate depression. Fluoxetine worked better that a placebo that was used to control or prevent depression bouts in patients. In the trial, those who responded positively to the drug were further treated for the next the next thirty-two weeks (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999). The improvements noted were better sleep and alleviation of anxiety.

Fluoxetine reduced the frequency of panic attacks on panic disorder patients. Higher doses of Fluoxetine lead to successful treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. In other double-blinded trials involving people with bulimia nervosa and eating disorders, this drug led to reduced levels of binge eating and the effects of bulimia nervosa.

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Side Effects on Pediatric Patients

These include teenagers and children. After a dose of Fluoxetine, some of them experienced high levels of thirst. Others were severely agitated and the urination frequencies increased dramatically. Other children experienced epistaxis or nose bleeding. This shows that this drug altered the normal clotting of blood. Young female teenagers, experienced menorrhagia. This is a condition where the uterine walls bleed in an abnormal manner at the time of menstruation. Menorrhagia is a pure indicator of hormonal imbalance that is caused by the intake of Fluoxetine (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999). In other cases, anaemia resulted due to menorrhagia and epitaxis.

Effect on sexual dysfunction in females and males

Alterations in sexual needs, satisfaction, and performance can be due to psychiatric problems, but can also be caused by drug prescriptions. SSRI’s have been known to cause unbecoming sexual experiences. Sexual urge, presentation, and satisfaction become very difficult and the physicians who prescribe these drugs are very reluctant to point at Fluoxetine (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999). In the US, patients being treated for OCD, bulimia nerv osa and the Major Depressive disorder reported that, their sexual urge and libido were greatly affected. In addition to that, several reports have shown that this drug causes orgasmic dysfunction in women.

Other Side Effects

The reactions in the human body are classified as frequent adverse reactions, infrequent adverse reactions, and rare reactions. Frequent Adverse Reactions are those that occur in 1/100 patients. Rare Reactions are those that occur lesser than 1/1000 while Infrequent Adverse Reactions occur in 1/100 to 1/1000 (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999).

The General Body experiences frequent chills or a feeling of cold and a person shivers. Infrequent reactions include suicidal attempts. Though rare, some patients experience increased sensitivity to light and acute abdominal syndrome. The cardiovascular system can palpitate while it is infrequent for patients to experience abnormal heart rhythm of more than 100 beats per minute.

The digestive system may experience infrequent cases of gastritis, stomach ulcers, gastroenteritis, and dysphagia. In rare occurrences, patients experience hepatitis, bloody diarrhea, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, peptic and duodenal ulcer, esophageal ulcer, and stomach ulcer hemorrhage

In some patients, the taste is altered but this is frequent compared to infrequent cases of mydriasis.The nervous system usually experiences frequent cases of emotional docility. One of such feelings is akathisia. Akathisia commonly characterized by feelings of restlessness. One is forced to be in constant motion to subdue this feeling. Infrequent cases that have been reported include increased sexual libido, paranoid reactions, buccoglossal syndrome, feelings of euphoria (feeling excited or ‘high’), dysphagia or difficulties in eating and swallowing of food and water.             This condition is caused by poor muscle and nerve coordination, and it may lead to hydration. Other patients may experience ataxia or unsteadiness in movement. This indicates that Fluoxetine somehow affects some functions of the brain that control balance, movement, and direction of the human body.

Lymphatic and hemic systems experience infrequent cases of Ecchymosis. This is a medical term for skin discoloration. It is caused when blood vessels near the skin surface rupture, thereby releasing blood. This is common in the tongue. It is rare for a patient to get dermatological conditions like Pupura (a skin that has experienced hemorrhage) and ptechia (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999).

Paxil

It is used to treat OCD, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, general anxiety disorder, and Posttraumatic stress disorder.

Positive Effects of Paxil

OCD patients on Paxil prescriptions depicted lower rates of relapse in comparison to those who were given placebo (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999). It is wise to note that any physician who prescribes this drug should regularly evaluate the patient to see its long-term effects and usefulness. In the treatment of the panic disorder, patients usually experienced panic attacks, constant worry on the attacks and their behavior was considerably affected. Paxil reduced the rate of relapses n comparison to patients who were given placebos.

Adverse Reactions

A patient under Paxil prescription experiences headaches, abdominal pain, trauma, and Asthenia. The drug helps in the relaxation of nerves and muscles; thus, the cardiovascular system vasodilates. Dermatological reactions include excessive sweating. In the gastrointestinal system, a person experiences nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and constipation. The nervous systems’ functions are depressed and thus the patient experiences insomnia, nervousness, a decreased libido, and abnormal dreams. Other reactions are tremors and somnolence. A patient is also bound to have abnormal or blurred vision and altered sense of taste. Some males have experienced abnormal ejaculations, while females tend to experience disorders in their genital system. However, in both sexes, the drug can cause impotence (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999). The mucoskeletal structure also experiences muscle weaknesses.

Zoloft

Zoloft is also known as sertraline hydrochloride.

Positive Reactions

It is used to treat OCD, posttraumatic disorder, panic disorder, general anxiety, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and major depression. One of the positive reactions that these drugs reduce the relapses of the negative behaviors associated with the disorders. This drug’s effectiveness has not yet been evaluated on a long-term basis. If administered, the physician is required to regularly evaluate the patient to check whether the drug is working (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999).

Negative Reactions

Patients under Zoloft prescription tend to experience increased levels of anxiety, and they are readily agitated. The autonomous nervous system is depressed and as a result, males have problems in ejaculation. In addition to that, they sweat more while the mouth is very dry. The central and the peripheral nervous systems experience some disorders. These disorders are characterized by somnolence, tremors, headaches, and dizziness. The skin and appendages also experience a rash. Special senses like the eyes have altered vision. The gastrointestinal system experiences constipation, bouts of nausea and vomiting. Other patients experience dyspepsia, diarrhea and anorexia. Other adverse reactions included fever, aggressive reactions towards self and others. There is also marked urinary incontinence, sinusitis, and epistaxis (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999).

Positive and Negative Effects of Antidepressant Drugs

Antidepressants have numerous side effects to all consumers. However, certain groups of individuals suffer from greater risk factors. In adults who are aged above 65 years, SSRIs have posed additional risk factors. Studies have revealed that SSRIs may increase the risk of falls, bone fractures, and bone loss in older adults (Kitching & Raphael, 2001). The use of SSRIs in the later months of a pregnancy may result to short-term withdrawal symptoms in the newborns after birth. The most common withdrawal symptoms, witnessed after birth, include shivering, agitation, mild respiratory problems, and a frail cry. In teenagers and adolescents, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have issued a mandatory requirement that all depression drugs must include a warning label about the increased risk of suicide in children and teenagers.

There is a risk that people on antidepressant treatment may experience increased depression rather than a reduction, and consequently, increased risk of suicide. This is particularly true for children and adolescents. However, the effects may be replicated by anyone during the first or second month of antidepressant treatment. Therefore, anyone taking antidepressant medication should be monitored closely for any suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Monitoring is more important for people who are taking the medication for the first time, or people who have recently changed their medication (Horwarth, Johnson, & Klerman, et al., 1992). The signs that the medication is aggravating the situation rather than reducing depression include nervousness, insomnia, aggression, and intense agitation; this is more serious if the symptoms appear abruptly or deteriorate rapidly.

The side effects of the older generation antidepressants such as Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are more severe when compared to the newer generation antidepressants (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999). Thus, they are prescribed as the last resort medication after the failure of other medications and treatment. Additionally, once a patient commences antidepressant treatment, stopping can be a challenge. Numerous withdrawal symptoms complicate getting off the medication. Stopping the medication abruptly can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms; these may include crying spells, intense restlessness, faintness, exhaustion, aches, and pains. The withdrawal symptoms are referred to as Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), and are common when patients stop taking Zoloft and Paxil (Horwarth, Johnson, Klerman, et al., 1992). However, all antidepressant medications have withdrawal symptoms.

Lastly, depression and anxiety are common withdrawal symptoms for antidepressants. The withdrawal depression is more severe than the original depression, which treatment was sought. Unfortunately, a significant number of people confuse it for a recurrence of their depression illness, and recommence medication. This creates a vicious cycle. In order to avoid antidepressant withdrawal symptoms, it is critical to stop the medication gradually. Patients should gradually taper their medication, allowing 1 to 2 weeks period between each dosage reduction. The process takes several months; it should be taken with close doctor’s supervision.  

Alternative Treatment of Depression

Although there is no proven cure for depression and other disorders, alternative therapy can help in offsetting depression symptoms. In the ancient times, St. John’s wort and Ginkgo biloba were used to treat acute depression (Russell, Berndt, & Miceli et al., 1999). Modern science has diverted the minds of people to instant “manufactured” cures. Meditation is a powerful way of relaxing the body. The body stays in a diverted state of unconsciousness while the mind and body are focused. The muscles relax, blood circulation improves, and the heart rate is lowered. Music therapy can also be used to psychologically relax the mind and body. At times, pills do not offer every cure. People should also avoid staying or being drawn into conditions that cause stress.