Depression is a mental illness that affects over 16 million American adults each year. This disease inhibits the ability to live daily life, and can lead to thoughts of suicide when it has become severe or lasted a long time without relief. To someone who has never had depression, it may be difficult to understand. Far from being simply a mood or a phase, clinical depression is characterized by certain persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness. Depression can strike anyone, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or ethnic group.
Often those with clinical depression have an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters, and this can interfere with the regions of the brain that process emotions, memories, and personality. In other cases, a person may have long-standing negative thought patterns or beliefs.
Symptoms of depression can include a constant feeling of sadness or emptiness, sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, fatigue, loss of pleasure in previously enjoyed activities, pain where there is no discernable physical source, and thoughts of suicide.
Depression can be a dangerous condition because it makes it difficult for the person suffering to find value and joy in their own life. This can lead to deteriorating relationships, the inability to grow in a career, and poor or dangerous life choices. It can also mask other medical conditions.
Sometimes those with depression do not seek treatment because they feel their feelings are a personal weakness, rather than a condition that can be treated. There are some specific types of depression, such as post-partum depression after the birth of a child and seasonal depression during the winter, that are more easily diagnosed, though in many cases there is no known trigger for a depressive episode.
Depression is one of the main conditions that TMS is recommended as a therapy for. This FDA approved treatment has helped many people to overcome this mental illness. Other therapies can include talk therapy, where the patient speaks with a trained therapist to alter thought patterns, and prescription therapy which can help a patient to rebalance their neurotransmitters to favorably alter brain function.