Relief for Mid-life Depressions
People with depressive disorders do find relief when
they receive the appropriate treatment. Diagnosing
the trigerring factors of your depression is the
first therapeutic approach a mental-health specialist
will do to help you journey into your illness to
Understanding male and female's different reactions
towards depression can also be enlightening; I will
enumerate some of these approaches for you. As we go
over the causes of the various depressions - whether
mild-to-moderate, major or dysthimia - it will become
clear to you why some therapeutic approaches could be
most suitable for your recovery than others.
Last but not least, please understand that this
information is for educational purpose only. The best
person to assist you in your therapeutic approaches
remains to be your therapist. As you learn to trust
his professional wisdom and experience, you will feel
the need to confide with open-mind and honestly - which
is the key for bringing relief in this difficult
but necessary journey.
Let's now continue our journey as we now look over some
of the biological and environmental factors that
could trigger your depression with its specific
therapeutic approach requirements:
medical issues and medications
Biological factors of Depression
1.Neurotransmitters are ``chemicals used to relay,
amplify and modulate signals between a neuron
(nerve cell) and another cell. `` Any malfunctioning
of neurotransmitters could be responsible for signs
and symptoms of major depressions. To help you
understand this, I will explain how a signal is
transmitted between two neurons.(nerve cells)
How does the nerve cells communicate amongst each other?
Let’s compare our brain to an administrative corporation
with multiple departments. Each department practices
their respective functions for the purpose of realizing
a common goal: bringing coherence in all facettes of
our health – whether physical, psychological, emotional
and spiritual. The neurological system is the means
of communication that links all these departments
together, and through this wiring system the brain
sends millions of signals daily.
To help you understand how the brain sends signals to all
the muscles of your body, try to picture your nervous
system functioning like the electrical wiring of your home
or a computer. It all begins with a neuron (nerve cell)
to which thousands and thousands of others are all
connected like little branches to the tree.
(see Wikipedia graphic below)
The nerve cell is composed of 4 parts:
the body of the cell
long stem that ramifies the pre-synaptic nerve to
the post-synaptic nerve
the axon divides itself into smaller ramifications
or little branches for the connection of other cells.
the space between two nerve cells filled with fluid
The brain sends a signal to the nerve cell
(also called pre-synaptic nerve) using electrical
impulses. This electrical impulse travels along the
wiring of the nerve, scientifically called axon towards
the synapse. Neurotransmitters are responsible for
carrying the signal message from one neuron to the next.
``Neurotransmitters are packaged into vesicles that
cluster between the membrane of the presynaptic side
of a synapse, and released into the synaptic cleft,
where they bind to receptors located in the membrane on
the postsynaptic side of the synapse.``
Between the two nerve cells there’s a space called
synapse filled with fluid. Neurotransmitters,
analogically called floaters are compared to little
chemical keys that open little locks on the membrane of
the post-synaptic nerve or right nerve. When the two
fit together, the lock opens causing the post synaptic
nerve to fire electrically and release the
neurotransmitter back into the synaptic fluid again.
This process is called diffusion. The neurotransmitter
ended its job; the presynaptic nerve must get rid of
it. (pumping the neurotransmitter back to the
presynaptic cell) Either the neurotransmitter will
be recycled (changing a chemical) or will be destroyed.
The excess of chemical will be saved; if rejected, it will
be destroyed and eliminated through the blood stream where
it will make its way towards the kidneys. This process
is necessary to avoid message confusion. Here are a
few examples of neurotransmitters and their functions:
The serotonin regulates mood, sleep/wake cycle and
The acetylcholine junction between neurons
(nerve cells) and motor nerves.(body muscles)
Dopamine stimulates pleasure.
According to researchers and specialists in this field
of study an increase or decrease of neurotransmitters can
be a factor in causing depression in some people and not
for others. Mood instability is supposedly the consequence
of insufficient form of neurotransmitter called
serotonin. Individual prognostic is necessary as for no
two people will have the same reactions.
Depression clearly runs in families. In my case,
depression is strong on my father’s side. My grand-mother,
my father’s youngest sister and my father all add tendency
to depression. My aunt is diagnosed with bi-polar
depression and so is my sister. I experience depression
in high-stressing circumstances as well as anxiety.
A family, such as mine and many others are two to four
times more susceptible to depression.
According to the authors of
The Peace of Mind Prescription
``identical twins can have a percentage rate of depression
as high as 35% compared to non-identical twins.``
Plenty of research have been done to possibility depict
types of genes regulation of activity of
neurotransmitters. In the case of bi-polar depression,
some have found abnormalities in the number of neurons,
in hormones or certain parts of the brain:
Medical health issues and medication
PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder)
Severe hormone fluctuations affect moods before, during
and after menstruation or pregnancy. When severe, a
woman will suffer of `` marked mood swings, depressed
mood, irritability, and anxiety, which may be
accompanied with physical symptoms such as appetite
changes, lethargy, and sleep disturbances. The symptoms
of PMDD closely resemble those of major depressive
disorder or dysthymia. The key diagnostic difference is
that symptoms are cyclic rather than constant. ``
Other medical conditions can be triggers; the malfunction
of thyroid glands influences mood.
Some medication for pain relief or other than
mental-related symptoms can trigger depression,
which can be a challenging task for physicians and
patients to pinpoint.
Any physical chronic illnesses such as diabetes,
heart illnesses, or terminal illnesses such as cancer
could also trigger depression.
Stress is one of the most popular factors of depression. ``Stressors drain you, wear you out and impact you. They put
a demand on you mentally, emotionally and physically.``
Stress can come from our social environment as much as
within us. Our interpretations of life, of ourself as
a person, our ability in accepting ourself for whom we are
in our limits are but a few stressors that can contribute
to your depression and make your present living situation
painful. Whether you encounter matrimonial issues,
health issues, job loss or difficulty at work, or
water dripping stressors that accumulate, they could
be responsible for ``hormonal changes in your body and
your brain.`` These hormones increasing could impair
the growth of new dendrites and synapses. This explains
the tunnel vision we feel during the phase of depression.
`` …the brain and body can cope well with short-term stress,
provided that periods of rest or relaxation follow. But
the unrelenting stress typical of many twenty-first-century
jobs and lifestyles can degrade physical and mental health
and may trigger depression in those with an inborn
Traumatic childhood experiences are strongly linked to
depression. Situations such as parental neglect, physical,
mental and sexual abuse, loss of a parent before adolescence
are triggers of depression in adulthood because of the
seriousness of the effects this negative behaviour had on you
as a child and a person. You become hypersensitive to any
similar situation and this is carried over in adulthood. Your
temperament could even been marked as a result of these
traumatisms. Lack of intimate bonding as a child makes you
feel unlovable and worthless.
SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD)
Last but not least, seasonal changes may have an impact on
your mental health. The declining of light level in fall
and in winter make some people feel depressed. Light
therapy is the therapeutic approach to help these
THERAPEUTIC APPROACHES TO DEPRESSION
There are three general therapeutic approaches
to depression and based on the factors triggering
your depression one or more of these approaches
may be recommended by your mental health
Cognitive therapy (psychotherapy)
Cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal
therapy are two different talking approaches
available for persons ill with depression.
``Through reflection, introspection and talking the person
learns to accept, understand and integrate traumatic
events. `` Talking therapy helps to reduce anxiety and
depression’s physical and mental symptoms. This approach
is most helpful as a support for all factor-related
depression, particularly for environmentally caused
depressions such as stress. Even in the case of
biologically factored depression, cognitive therapy
could be of positive support to help the person in
depression journey towards acknowledgement of illness –
particularly in cases where neurotransmitters are an
issue. Through cognitive therapy the client learns to
relax and calm thoughts using biofeedback and
Medications such as antidepressants
and antipsychotics can be used in cases of
major depressions to regulate moods.
``These medications don’t cure depression
like insulin doesn’t cure diabetes but helps
the person with depression to make better life
changes and choices.``
The length of treatment varies based on the severity
of depression and the reactions of the person to
the medication. On medication therapy it is important
to follow mental health specialist guidelines in regards
to the procedure for termination or change of medication.
Some of those medications can also have side effects that
you must seriously consider with your physician.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
For persons with major depression that cannot use
drug therapy for health reasons ECT or shock
therapy can be of assistance and effects are
felt within days.
The authors of The Peace of Mind Prescription
describe electroconvulsive therapy as follow, and
`` Modern ECT is a controlled, painless, brief, and highly
effective treatment for both depression and bipolar
disorder. Unlike antidepressant and anti-mania
medications, the effects of ECT are usually felt within
a day or two. Because ECT does not involve a drug, it
is particularly appropriate for people who cannot take
an antidepressant due to adverse reactions with other
medications or because of a desire not to expose a
developing fetus. The ECT Procedure is conducted under
general anesthesia and with muscle relaxants to minimize
overt convulsions. A tightly controlled series of mild
electric currents is delivered to the brain via
electrodes are placed on both sides of the head."
Graphic illustrating the function of a neuron
``A signal propagating down an axon to the cell
body and dendrites of next cell``
An important message to supportive members
As we reach the conclusion of our encounter on therapies
for mid-life depressions, some guidelines may be
beneficial for assistants or supportive family members
Men's approach to depression differs from women.
Here are some examples of men's attitudes in reference
to their depression in opposition to women's approaches.
Men will feel others are to blame; they feel angry,
irritated, ego-inflated in opposition to women who blames
themselves, feel sad, apathetic and worthless not to mention
anxious and scared.
Men feel suspiciousand guarded and creates conflicts,in
opposition to women whom avoids the conflicts at all cost
and always tries to be nice.
Men demands respect from others, in opposition to women
who withdraws feeling hurt and has trouble with
Men feels restless and agitated, sleeps too little and needs
to control at all cost, in opposition to women who feels they
are born to fail, are slowed-down and nervous with chronic
procrastination and sleeps too much;
Men are terrified to talk about weaknesses and doubts;they
have this strong fear of failure in opposition to women who
find it easy to talk about weaknesses and doubts, have strong
fears of success and need to blend-in to feel safe;
Men uses alcohol, TV, sports and sex to self-medicate in
opposition to women who believes their problems could be
resolved if they could be a better spouse, co-worker, parent
Finally, men believe their problems with be solved only if their spouse would treat them better, in opposition to women who constantly wonder if they are loveable or being loved enough.
13 signs of Burnout
and How to Help You Avoid it by Henry Neils.
In his article the author describes sleeplessness and
depression to be one of the thirteen signs of burnout and
will assign tips to caregivers concerned about their
love-ones in depression.
A proven 7-step program for overcoming depression
from his book Creating Optimism
by Dr Bob Murray, Ph.D, and Alicia Fortinberry, M.S.
Psychotherapist and writer
Peace of Mind Prescription -
An Authoritative Guide to Finding the Most Effective
Treatment for Anxiety and Depression
by Dennis S. Charney, M.D.,Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D.,
Ph.D, with stephen Braun
The New Mood Therapy by Dr.David D. Burns,M.D
and Dr Aaron T. Beck, M.D.
Real Life -
Preparing for the 7
Most Challenging Days of Your Life by
Dr. Phillip McGraw, Ph.D.,
A DIvision ofSimon & Shuster Inc.
1230, Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Up-lifting tips for partners and family members having to deal with depression in their family life.
Learning about bi-polar disorder, its signs and symptoms
and education about instigating relief to your illness.