Am I Depressed?

 

The word “depressed” is tossed around a lot these days.  “I’m so depressed that my favorite TV show was canceled.  “I’m so depressed that I have to work over the weekend.”  “This rainy weather is just so depressing.”  For someone who suffers from Major Depressive Disorder, the word isn’t thrown around so easily.  

Mild Depression

Mild depression is common and usually has an obvious trigger like the death of a loved one or the breakup of a relationship.  It may feel like a deep, profound sadness that will never go away but it eventually subsides and life gets back to normal.  It may not be centered around an event but rather just a period of sadness that eventually goes away.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder is not like this.  MDD keeps you from living a normal life.  The sadness is overwhelming and can cause you to become physically ill.  It often doesn’t have an obvious trigger and can persist for months or even years.  It is estimated that one in every 6 people experience MDD in their lifetime.  

Risk Factors

There are 4 major risk factors in developing MDD:

  • Genetics.  If you have a family history of depression, you have a higher likelihood of developing it yourself.
  • Environmental.  If you are currently living in severe poverty or are the victim of abuse or have experienced these things in the past, you are more likely to have MDD.
  • Personality.  Having low self-esteem or being overly pessimistic can lead to MDD.
  • Biochemistry.  If you have a chemical imbalance in your brain, you are not receiving the right signals from the mood-regulating neurotransmitters in your brain―dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

What To Look For

Mild depression may have some of the same symptoms as MDD but they generally don’t subsist the way they do with MDD.  You may only have a few of the symptoms but still have MDD.  

Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Insomnia
  • Thoughts of suicide or attempts of suicide
  • Aches and pains
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Sad, empty feelings that persist
  • Digestive problems
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Lack of interest
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Digestive problems

Treatment

Mild depression can usually be treated with psychotherapy and your therapist can help you determine whether or not your depression is more severe.  If you are experiencing MDD, your therapist or doctor may recommend antidepressants.   

Antidepressants work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain or inhibiting its absorption into the body.  Treating MDD with antidepressants may be necessary to try several different ones before finding one, or a combination of them, that are effective.  There’s no cookie-cutter solution and what may work for one person may do nothing for someone else.  Sometimes patients are unable to find one that works at all or they may be intolerant of antidepressant drugs.

This is where TMS grabs the baton.

TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a non-invasive alternative for the treatment of depression that uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific areas of the brain to lessen or eliminate the symptoms.  TMS targets mood-regulating neurotransmitters to stimulate them into working the way they should.  By stimulating the specific area of the brain where the neurotransmitters exist, it normalizes the neuronal circuits in the area where depression occurs.  It’s a natural, drug-free treatment.  

Side effects are rare and mild and typically consist of a headache either during or after the treatment.  Rarely, seizures may occur so the treatment is not recommended for people with epilepsy, a history of seizures, or any other neurological issues.

If you think you may be suffering from MDD, there is help.  SAMHSA can help you find the help you need to take control of your depression.  If you have been unable to find relief with the use of antidepressants and you live in the St. Louis area, GatewayTMS can help.  

At GatewayTMS, our caring and experienced staff uses state of the art Neurostar technology to treat patients who are suffering from MDD.  Treatments in the relaxed atmosphere of our office usually last for 20-40 minutes 5 days a week for 4-6 weeks.   If you suffer from MDD and medication isn’t working, call GatewayTMS today at (314)909-8487 and find out if TMS is right for you.