While depression is surprisingly common, it is a serious medical illness that should not be ignored. If you or a loved one are experiencing feelings of sadness, emptiness, or irritability that have been persistent for two weeks or more and are affecting your ability to function, you may be suffering from a depressive disorder. Dr. Russell Surasky is a leading neurologist in New York who has helped many patients successfully manage their mental health conditions. He is dedicated to working with his patients to find the best depression treatment for their condition so that they can move forward and live a full, happy life.
A 2015 study showed depression is more prevalent than many people think .
What is Depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks .Depressive Disorders
There are many forms of depression, including:
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
- Perinatal Depression
- Postpartum Depression
- Psychotic Depression
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
- Substance/Medication-Induced Depressive Disorder
- Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
- Unspecified Depressive Disorder
Each of these types of depression is typically triggered differently and is associated with unique characteristics. For instance, psychotic depression is accompanied by a form of psychosis, while perinatal depression typically affects new mothers during and shortly after delivery. However, each of these disorders shares a commonality in the presence of persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or irritability, accompanied by somatic or cognitive changes that significantly affect your ability to function.
What Causes Depression?
According to current research, it is believed that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. There are several risk factors that may heighten the likelihood that you will experience major depressive disorder, such as a personal or family history of depression, as well as major life changes, trauma, or stress. Those who suffer from alcoholism or addiction may find that substance abuse is a trigger for their depression. Certain physical illnesses including diabetes, Parkinson's disease, or cancer and the medications provided to treat these illnesses, such as opioids, may also contribute to depression.
Symptoms of Clinical Depression
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5®) lists the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder as:
- Depressed mood
- Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities
- Significant change in appetite or weight (more than five percent of body weight in one month)
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or more indecisiveness
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, a specific plan, or suicide attempt
To be formally diagnosed with depression, a patient must exhibit at least five of these symptoms for most of the day, nearly every day, for fourteen or more days consecutively.
Distinguishing Major Depressive Disorder from Other Conditions
It is important to note that while sadness or grief may share certain characteristics with depression, they are not the same. You may suffer from a major depressive episode following significant loss or during the bereavement period. However, to be considered major depressive disorder, these symptoms must persist for more than two months or show marked function impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation (visible slowing of physical and emotional reactions). In 2015, a study estimated that about 6.7 percent of all U.S. adults suffered at least one major depressive episode within the year.
Dr. Bober frequently works with psychiatrists to tailor a combined treatment approach to effectively manage depression for long-term results.
Additionally, a major depressive episode is not, in itself, indicative of major depressive disorder. In many instances, these symptoms may be clearly associated with a general medical or psychiatric condition. Depression is often symptomatic of other disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia.
Every individual is affected differently by major depressive disorder. As such, there is no simple treatment plan that can be prescribed to everyone. In many cases, depression is treated with therapy, medications, or an individualized treatment plan integrating the two.
Dr. Bober believes that it is always best to try therapy as the first course of treatment. This provides the patient with the ability to develop strategies and coping skills to actively manage their depression. Common methods for treating depression include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Problem-solving therapy
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
- Rational emotive therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy are the most common treatments for depression. These safe and effective manners of goal-oriented psychotherapy focus on problem-solving as opposed to the cause of your depression. Typically, Dr. Bober only administers medical treatment. However, he has professional relationships with many reputable therapists and can provide referrals.
Antidepressants can help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood and stress. Dr. Bober can work with you to determine the best medication to manage your symptoms while minimizing side effects. Generally, medications require several weeks to show improvement in depressive symptoms and mood. During this time, patients should be monitored closely to ensure their well-being.
Improve Your Quality of Life
While Dr. Surasky can work with you to treat even the most severe cases of depression, early intervention is typically most effective. If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from major depressive disorder, call (516) 487-9414 to schedule your consultation.