What is Recurrent Depression (causes, symptoms, and treatment)
Depression, as mentioned many times before in my other articles on the subject (read more about unipolar depression, and bipolar depression), is a major debilitating mental disorder that afflicts at least 11 million people in the US and billions of people around the globe across all sexes, ethnicities, and age barriers. According to some psychiatrists, almost 1 in every 10 people suffer from at least 1 episode depression throughout his life. This, luckily for most is a onetime situation, however, few unfortunate individuals end up facing several relapses of the depressive symptoms after phases of normal moods and behavior. This condition is known as major recurrent depression and is considered as the most severe and difficult to treat condition of all types of depressions.
Symptoms of recurrent depression:
A person suffering from major recurrent depression faces the same symptoms as a person with unipolar depression does, ie; feeling unrealistic anxiety, despair, hopelessness, chronic fatigue, irritability, incessant crying, lack of attention and concentration, inability to make decisions,and a general lack of interest towards life. In addition, the person is more susceptible to having suicidal thoughts, and/or attempt to commit suicide.
The main difference in the symptoms of recurrent depression and other types of depression is periods of normal moods that punctuate the depressive episode. These people tend to suffer from depressive symptoms which may resolve on their own and the person may feel and behave normally for days, weeks, or even years, before showing signs of another episode of depression. If left untreated, the symptoms and risk of suicide increases with every episode of depression.
Causes of Recurrent depression:
Almost everyone who has had at least one episode of depression is susceptible to relapse. Usually traumatic conditions like loss or death of a loved one, chronic disease, failures in personal or professional life, and financial difficulties can trigger a recurrent episode of depression. Several clinical trials also suggest that people may be genetically pre-disposed to recurrent depressive disorder.
Whatever be the cause, it is essential to understand that a person suffering from recurrent depression is not suffering from the condition because “(s)he wants to” or because “(s)he is mentally weak.” Recurrent depression is a mental illness in which, the person suffering has no or little control, so do not shun the person away (that would only worsened the condition) rather give all the support and care that patient deserves and help him/her cope with the disabling condition.
Diagnosis of recurrent depression:
Like all other types of depression, diagnosis of recurrent depression is based upon the good old “talk therapy.” A qualified doctor would ask several questions to the patient and the patients near ones to get a complete picture about the person, past history, childhood, previous traumas, medical history, family history of mental illnesses, etc. and based upon this information would make the correct diagnosis.
Treatment of recurrent depression:
Three types of treatments are available for treating most types of depressive disorders including recurrent depression, they being – psychotherapy, anti-depressive medications, and electro-convulsive therapy (shock treatment). Several medical practitioners believe that cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy are most effective modes of treatment for recurrent depression, while, many others opine that a combination of psychotherapy and anti-depressive medications is a more effective mode of treatment. Electro-convulsive therapy is usually used as the resort for treating recurrent depression.
Usually, patients are administered a combination of cognitive therapy and medications until the person reaches a plateau stage, i.e. a state of mild depression, wherein the person can perform daily activities and carry on with regular productive life. At this stage, the physician may decide to discontinue the psychotherapy and continue the person on a maintenance dose of anti depressants to prevent a relapse.
Whatever be the mode of treatment, one must realize that recurrent depression requires long term treatment and dropping off the treatment schedule mid-way would only do more harm than good. One must never stop the medications of therapies without the permission of the doctor.
To know more about the various new developments in the field of depression treatments do have a look at our list of depression clinical trials.