A few months ago, I wrote an article on depression. I briefly outlined what depression was. For those who want to read or reread that article, click on the archived articles line below.
As I indicated in the previous article, depression is not being blue for a few days. Depression is a long episode of sadness that impairs the person's ability to function. We see depression as coming from within the person (endogenous) or coming from a specific life situation (exogenous). This article was written to explain the two major causes of depression.
First, there is the depression that is internally caused, the endogenous depression. We know that our brain controls thinking, feelings, sensations, bodily functions, and our actions. The brain operates on electrical and biochemical processes. It is made up of over 160 neurochemicals (at last that is how many we have identified as of today). We also know that there are at least three neurochemicals that are involved in our moods. These neurochemicals are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinepherine. When one is depressed, there is less of one or more of these neurotransmitters; therefore, the popular antidepressant medications essentially work to artificially increase one or two of these neurochemicals in the brain. At this time, we do not have all of the answers about brain chemistry and depression. We also know that antidepressants do not work on all depressed patients. Clearly, more research is needed in the area of depression and pharmaceuticals.
Now let's turn to depressions that are created by events outside of the individual, exogenous depressions. Loss of a loved one, marital crisis, health problems, job loss, financial problems all can make someone feel depressed. These events can lead a person who was previously functioning into a state in which they are unable to work, sleep appropriately, eat properly, think clearly, or experience happiness. It is believed that in response to a significant distressing event, the individual's thinking is altered and they cannot think clearly about solutions or consequences. We do know that many times when these negative life events are cleared, or passed, the individual can return to their previous level of functioning. However, there are cases in which the individual cannot easily recover and they do not return to their previous level of functioning. It is possible that significant stress can upset the fine balance of neurochemicals and cause the person to be depressed.
The data indicates that the treatment for either depressive response should be a combination of medication and therapy. The length of treatment and extent of medication would be dictated by whether there was a long-term change in the individual's biochemistry and the duration of the external stressors.