Nothing hurts more than seeing a loved one in pain, whether mental or physical. If someone you know or love is suffering from depression, how can you help? Emotional support, compassion, and understanding go a long way, but your help is best informed through education and understanding depression and its symptoms.
THE WEB OF DEPRESSION
How many people does depression affect? The numbers are staggering. By some estimates, it affects about 40 million adults in the U.S., and globally almost 300 million people, according to the World Health Organization. The COVID pandemic has caused these numbers to skyrocket and are likely much higher than currently reported statistics. But help is available.
Depression is one of America’s most widespread illnesses. The causes of depression can be different for everybody, but the latest research indicates that depression is affected by a combination of biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
Risk factors can’t normally be mitigated with medicine, but some of the symptoms of depression can be managed with medications. Depression and mental traumas can cause actual physical damage in the brain which can often be successfully treated by ketamine infusions therapy. Northwest Ketamine Clinics is a national leader in the use of ketamine to treat depression and other difficult to treat mood conditions.
Factors that lead to depression, of course, can be unique to different people but can include:
- Family or personal history of depression.
- Major trauma, life changes, or anxiety.
- Certain medications and physical illnesses.
WHY DEPRESSION AFFECTS MORE WOMEN THAN MEN
Scientists are analyzing many potential factors leading to women’s heightened risk for major depressive episodes. A 2017 study by the U.S. National Institutes of Mental Health shows major depression affects nearly nine percent of women, compared to about five for men. Biological, hormonal, life cycle, and psychosocial considerations unique to women might be linked to higher rates. Researchers have demonstrated, for example, that hormones can impact emotions and mood through their effect on brain chemistry.
DEPRESSION AND THE BRAIN
Depression neurobiology is complicated. Individuals have no control over their neurobiology, having to deal with the biology that they have inherited. “The inability to cope with stress plays a major role in developing depression. An overactive amygdala, (mis)regulated by the prefrontal cortex, is a key component of this. In addition, the overactive amygdala likely creates a cognitive bias towards interpreting the world, and self, negatively. Making matters worse, the increase in negative thoughts and emotions seems to occur alongside dysfunction in the brain’s reward system, particularly in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), in which the rewarding effects of dopamine are lessened.” This has been confirmed with “behavioral observations of a negative cognitive bias” and anhedonia in depressed people.
THE HISTORY OF KETAMINE
Ketamine was synthesized as an anesthetic in the early 1960s. It gained prominence treating injured U.S. combat soldiers in Vietnam. In more recent years, researchers at many of the most prestigious medical institutes worldwide have discovered the benefits ketamine can have on mental conditions ranging from depression to anxiety, to PTSD. Today, the medicine continues to be used for anesthesia, as well as treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. It is becoming a common treatment choice for difficult, or treatment resistant conditions.
HOW TO HELP A DEPRESSED PERSON
Helping someone experiencing depression can be challenging. If someone you care for suffers with depression, you can feel helpless and question what to do. Learn how to extend support and understanding and how to help your loved one obtain the resources to deal with depression, while also maintaining healthy personal boundaries. Here are some strategies to consider:
- Learn the symptoms of depression, and that emotions like constant sadness or anxiety aren’t the result of just a bad day. Realize that the person is not choosing to feel this way and can’t just “shake it off”.
- Encourage treatment by talking to the person and helping them understand the condition through education, and by offering to prepare them for a doctor or therapist visit.
- Watch for warning signs of worsening depression, especially through a negative change in your friend or loved one’s behavior, words, or actions.
- Understand the risks of suicide and take threats of suicide seriously.
- Provide support by offering to drive your friend or loved one to doctor’s appointments or therapy sessions.
- Express your willingness to help, to listen, and to understand.
If you think you’re suffering from depression, the best way to know for sure is a professional diagnosis from a doctor or mental health professional. The results of a physical and mental exam, combined with criteria from the DSM-5, help determine a diagnosis. Once there’s a diagnosis, treatment can begin afterward.
If someone you love is depressed, the best thing you can do is provide support, understanding, patience, and a helping hand. Depression is extremely harmful and, if left untreated, can lead to severe consequences, even suicide and death. Talk to your loved ones about treatment, including the clinical use of ketamine in a safe environment, like Northwest Ketamine Clinics. If you or a loved one have questions we can help. Contact us today to learn more.