Depressive Disorder: What is it? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

It is a neuropsychiatric disorder that is expressed in the emotional, physiological and behavioral effects.

Depression is common, chronic and severely damages the quality of life, often leading to risk due to suicidal tendencies. More than 12% of the US population suffers from depression throughout their lives.

The reward system of the brain is the neuronal circuit related to emotional phenomena such as hedonism and depression, and includes brain centers and pathways that are activated by natural and artificial rewards.

The most important cerebral reward centers, such as the nucleus accumbens, the ventral tegmental area and the ventral prefrontal cortex, are found at depths of 3-7 cm inside the brain.

Symptoms of depressive disorder

Due to the debilitating effects of depression, many people suffer with the disorder for weeks, months or even years before seeking effective treatment. However, there are certain symptoms that people and their loved ones can observe to determine if depression is affecting their lives.

Some common psychological symptoms of depressive disorder include:

  • Unexplained sadness, frustration or irritability.
  • Decrease in interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Difficult to focus.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Suicidal ideas.

The common physical manifestations of major depression may include, but are not limited to:

  • Headaches, back pains and other body aches.
  • Crying spells not invoked.
  • Sudden changes in eating habits with a decrease or increase in appetite.
  • Loss of energy
  • Problems sleeping or insomnia.
  • Get help for major depression.

Suicidal ideas are often indicative of the need for immediate attention from a doctor or mental health professional. Anyone who has thoughts of suicide or thoughts of hurting others should call a psychiatrist or 911 for immediate help.

Fortunately, major depression can often be treated with conventional psychiatric treatments, such as medication and / or psychotherapy.

However, up to a third of patients do not have an adequate response to these treatments. In addition, conventional medical treatments can take months or years to be effective and often end in relapses.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has shown remarkable results in the treatment of major depression safely and effectively, and in a fraction of the time compared to conventional treatments.

EMT treats depression by activating specific regions of the brain that become inactive in a depressed patient.

After repeated sessions of EMT, the brain adjusts its activity, reducing depression. In this way, patients can overcome their depression without the negative side effects of the medications and in a shorter period of time than the counseling treatments.

Causes of depressive disorder

There are numerous causes of major depression according to doctors and researchers. Some of these causes can arise organically within an individual, while others come from environmental events that affect the person.

The wide range of potential causes has led to the development of numerous treatments for depression.

Biological cause

A change in brain activity is almost always associated with a major depressive disorder. There is decreased activity in the left frontal lobe during depression and an increase in activity after mood stabilization.

These discrepancies between the hyperactive and sub-active regions of the brain are in the biological cause of major depressive disorder.

Neurotransmitters could cause depression

The release and reuptake of neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine) in the brain is related to a person’s mood.

Depression has been linked to the imbalance of these neurotransmitters (NT), but unfortunately it is difficult to prove, since it is very difficult to measure the concentrations of these NTs in the brain. What is known is that antidepressants act on these NTs as well as on their receptors.

Childhood trauma often causes severe depression

Childhood trauma can cause a person to become depressed for a prolonged period of time.

Examples of such traumas are: serious illness; isolation; physical, sexual or mental abuse; witness a traumatic event; and negligence. Regardless of the trauma, childhood experiences are one of the most common causes of major depression.

Major life events can cause severe depression

Losing a loved one, taking a high stress job and facing difficult financial situations are known as causes of depression. However, in many cases, depression is short-term.

Once the person has gone through the grieving process, straightened out their financial problems, or learned to manage the stress of work, depression can begin to resolve itself. In these cases, therapy can be very useful for a faster recovery.

Hormonal changes can lead to depression. When they are rapid hormonal changes are one of the causes of major depression, for example, women entering menopause.

Treatment of depressive disorder

Drug therapy and counseling are two of the most popular forms of major depression treatment. While they are often quite effective, they are not the only options available. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has shown excellent results in the treatment of depression.

EMT for major depression uses focused electromagnetic waves to activate specific regions of the brain.

EMT normalizes the neuronal circuit that causes depression so that the symptoms of depression are resolved. The results persist after a full course of EMT treatment. A response to EMT can be seen in just two weeks.

Since the treatment is not systemic, there are no undesirable side effects experienced by the patient, as with medications.

Traditional alternatives for the treatment of major depressive disorder include pharmacological therapy and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). In addition to these two methods, patients with depression are treated with psychotherapy.

However, this treatment for depression usually accompanies one of the two treatments mentioned above, and should not be used as an exclusive treatment, except in relatively mild cases, since reports indicate that its effectiveness is quite limited.

Traditional Therapy

Drug Therapy

There are several antidepressant medications designed for the treatment of major depressive disorder.

The main classes of antidepressants are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which include Prozac type drugs; as well as other newer antidepressants.

These drugs affect additional neurotransmitters that may involve depression, such as dopamine.


Psychotherapy is normally used to increase drug therapy or ECT as a treatment for depression. Psychotherapy alone is not recommended for patients with moderate or severe depressive episodes, but only for mild cases of depression.

Psychotherapy is, by its very nature, a prolonged process; Its success is by no means safe or scientifically proven, and depends largely on the skill of the therapist.

However, research has shown that psychotherapy and support groups may have some influence on the ability of patients to continue drug therapy.

Electroconvulsive therapy (TEC)

Electroconvulsive therapy is usually administered in cases of severe depression, in which drug therapy is ineffective or is not an option, and in which depression directly threatens the life of a patient. ECT has advanced in recent years and is now administered under general anesthesia with muscle relaxation.

This depression treatment is administered by attaching electrodes to precise places on the scalp and passing electrical current through them for a brief period of 30 seconds. ECT usually consists of a series of 6-12 treatment sessions, two or three times a week.