Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Amateur Pshrink IV

Dr. Moench drew this cartoon on a napkin, when my parents came to get me from the nut hatch at LDS Hospital many years ago. This is one diagnosis from the DSM that is pretty straight-forward.

Major depressive disorder (also known as clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression, or unipolar disorder) is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. The term "major depressive disorder" was selected by the American Psychiatric Association to designate this symptom cluster as a mood disorder in the 1980 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) classification, and has become widely used since. The general term depression is often used to describe the disorder, but as it is also used to describe a more temporarily depressed state of mind, more precise terminology is preferred for the disorder in clinical and research use. Major depression is a disabling condition which adversely affects a person's family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. In the United States, approximately 3.4% of people with major depression commit suicide, and up to 60% of all people who commit suicide have depression or another mood disorder.
The diagnosis of major depressive disorder is based on the patient's self-reported experiences, behavior reported by relatives or friends, and a mental status exam. There is no laboratory test for major depression, although physicians generally request tests for physical conditions that may cause similar symptoms. The most common time of onset is between the ages of 30 and 40 years, with a later peak between 50 and 60 years. Major depression is reported about twice as frequently in women as in men, although men are at higher risk for suicide.
Most patients are treated in the community with antidepressant medication and some with psychotherapy or counseling. Hospitalization may be necessary in cases with associated self-neglect or a significant risk of harm to self or others. A minority are treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), under a short-acting general anaesthetic. The course of the disorder varies widely, from one episode lasting months to a lifelong disorder with recurrent major depressive episodes. Depressed individuals have shorter life expectancies than those without depression, in part because of greater susceptibility to medical illnesses. Current and former patients may be stigmatized.
The understanding of the nature and causes of depression has evolved over the centuries, though many aspects of depression remain incompletely understood and are the subject of discussion and research. Psychological, psycho-social, evolutionary and biological causes have been proposed. Psychological treatments are based on theories of personality, interpersonal communication, and learning theory. Most biological theories focus on the monoamine chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine that are naturally present in the brain and assist communication between nerve cells. Monoamines have been implicated in depression, and most antidepressants work to increase the active levels of at least one.

Major depression is a serious illness that affects a person's family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. Its impact on functioning and well-being has been equated to that of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes.
A person suffering a major depressive episode usually exhibits a very low mood that pervades all aspects of life and an inability to experience pleasure in activities that formerly were enjoyed. Depressed people may be preoccupied with, or ruminate over, thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or regret, helplessness, hopelessness, and self hatred. Other symptoms include poor concentration and memory, withdrawal from social situations and activities, reduced sex drive, and thoughts of death or suicide. Insomnia is common: in the typical pattern, a person wakes very early and is unable to get back to sleep. Hypersomnia, or oversleeping, is less common. Appetite often decreases, with resulting weight loss, although increased appetite and weight gain occasionally occur. The person may report multiple physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or digestive problems; physical complaints are the most common presenting problem in developing countries according to the World Health Organization's criteria of depression. Family and friends may notice that the person's behavior is either agitated or lethargic. Older depressed persons may have cognitive symptoms of recent onset, such as forgetfulness, and a more noticeable slowing of movements. In severe cases, depressed people may have symptoms of psychosis such as delusions or, less commonly, hallucinations, usually of an unpleasant nature.

Depression is a major cause of morbidity worldwide. Lifetime prevalence varies widely, from 3% in Japan to 17% in the US. In most countries the number of people who would suffer from depression during their lives falls within an 8–12% range. In North America the probability of having a major depressive episode within a year-long period is 3–5% for males and 8–10% for females. Population studies have consistently shown major depression to be about twice as common in women as in men, although it is unclear why this is so, and whether factors unaccounted for are contributing to this. The relative increase in occurrence is related to pubertal development rather than chronological age, reaches adult ratios between the ages of 15 and 18, and appears associated with psychosocial more than hormonal factors.
People are most likely to suffer their first depressive episode between the ages of 30 and 40, and there is a second, smaller peak of incidence between ages 50 and 60.The risk of major depression is increased with neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, or multiple sclerosis and during the first year after childbirth. It is also more common after cardiovascular illnesses, and is related more to a poor outcome than to a better one. Studies conflict on the prevalence of depression in the elderly, but most data suggest there is a reduction in this age group.
Depression is often associated with unemployment and poverty. Major depression is currently the leading cause of disease burden in North America and other high-income countries, and the fourth-leading cause worldwide. In the year 2030, it is predicted to be the second-leading cause of disease burden worldwide after HIV, according to the World Health Organization. Delay or failure in seeking treatment after relapse, and the failure of health professionals to provide treatment, are two barriers to reducing disability.
The World Health Organization updated its report The global burden of disease in 2004. Their "Years Lost due to Disability", or YLD, is a measurement of the equivalent years of healthy life lost through time spent in states of less than full health, and they state that in all regions, "neuropsychiatric conditions are the most important causes of disability, accounting for around one third of YLD among adults aged 15 and over." Specifically, unipolar depressive disorders are the leading cause in both males and females, in high-income countries and in low- and middle-income countries.

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