Major depressive disorder is a condition which lasts two or more weeks and interferes with a person’s ability to carry out daily tasks and enjoyed activities that previously brought pleasure. This condition affects approximately 16 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older.1
The exact cause of depression is not known, but leading research in Neuroscience points to an imbalance in the brain’s neurotransmitters as the manifestation of depression. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that send signals between brain cells. A person’s genetic make-up and life history may also determine a person’s tendency to become depressed.
In 2016 a study conducted by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality reported that major depressive disorder will affect approximately 16 million American adults (about 6.7% of the US population) in a given year. 1
There is no known cure for depression but with effective treatment, many patients can remain symptom free.
There are many factors which can predispose certain people towards depression more than others. However, the exact causation between these factors and the occurrence of depression are still being researched and debated. Some of these risk factors include:
According to the standard diagnosis guide (DSM-V) published by the American Psychiatric Association, depression is diagnosed when an individual is experiencing either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure plus four or more of the following depression symptoms during the same two-week period:
If you feel you are experiencing any of these depression symptoms, contact your doctor and speak with them about your depression treatment options.
Depression is most often treated with psychotherapy (talk-therapy) and antidepressant medications administered together. Although antidepressants can be effective for many patients, they do not work for everybody. Additionally, since antidepressants are typically taken by mouth, they circulate in the bloodstream throughout the body, often resulting in unwanted side effects. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Spravato (esketamine) nasal spray, in conjunction with an oral antidepressant, for the treatment of depression in adults who have tried other antidepressant medicines but have not benefited from them. More than 4 million patients do not receive adequate benefit from antidepressant medications and/or cannot tolerate the side effects caused by them. For these patients, alternative treatments are available which usually involve the use of a medical device. These treatments include: transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) uses electromagnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the area of the brain thought to control mood. These pulses are thought to have a positive effect on the brain’s neurotransmitters levels. Treating depression with transcranial magnetic stimulation, may provide an alternative depression treatment for those who have not benefited from prior antidepressant medication.