Before delving into depression, let’s first introduce the anatomy of the brain. Depression, a widespread mental health condition, affects millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 264 million people of all ages worldwide suffer from a Mood Disorder, which is the leading cause of disability and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. But what exactly happens in the brain when someone is depressed?
The brain plays a critical role in the emergence of depression as it is a vital and complex organ that controls our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. According to Harvard Health Publishing 2021, the limbic system, which includes structures such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus, is involved in the development of depression. These areas control how the body reacts to stress, creates memories, and deals with strong emotions such as fear and anxiety.
Causes of Depression and Risk Factors
Depression can be caused by several factors, including genetic predisposition, family history, traumatic experiences, chronic medical conditions, specific medications, substance abuse, and stressful life events. Even though it is not always clear what specifically sets off Mood Disorder in an individual, research indicates that by being aware of the causes, risk factors, and effects on relationships and productivity at work, depression may be prevented.
Research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 2020 revealed that some particular genes may be linked to an increased susceptibility to Mood disorder. A first-degree relative with a history of depression, particularly a parent or sibling, increases the risk of developing the illness 1.5–3 times. However, it is important to remember that other factors besides genetics also play a part in the development of their Emotional Well-being.
The brain uses neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers, to communicate and regulate a variety of functions, including the transmission of signals between nerve cells. Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are three neurotransmitters that are particularly crucial for controlling mood and emotions. Neurotransmitter imbalances have been linked to Mood disorder and can affect how the brain normally functions. Particularly low levels of serotonin have been connected to depressive symptoms. However, more research is still needed to determine the precise connection between neurotransmitters and depression.
The environment in which a person lives and interacts can have a big impact on how likely they are to develop depression which can be caused by the following environmental factors:
|Environmental Factors||Description||Impact on Risk of Depression||Impact on Mental Health|
|Adverse life events||Traumatic experiences, the loss of a loved one, chronic stress, and other difficult life events can trigger or worsen depression.||High||High|
|Childhood adversity||Experiencing a dysfunctional family, abuse, neglect, or other forms of trauma during childhood can increase the risk of developing depression in adulthood.||High||High|
|Social isolation and lack of support||Feeling lonely, isolated, or lacking social connections can increase the risk of depression.||Moderate||High|
|Substance abuse||Alcohol and drug abuse can disrupt brain chemistry and functioning, leading to an increased risk of depression.||High||High|
|Living conditions||Challenging living conditions such as poverty, homelessness, or living in an unsafe neighborhood can impact mental health and increase the risk of depression.||Moderate to High||Moderate to High|
|Chronic illness or disability||Coping with a chronic illness or disability can take a toll on mental well-being and increase the risk of depression.||Moderate||High|
Relationships and work are significant areas of our lives that can impact our mental health. According to American Psychiatric Association (APA), Emotional Well-being can profoundly impact relationships and work performance. Difficulties in relationships, including conflicts with family members, friends, or romantic partners as well as lack of support, communication breakdowns in personal or professional settings, and social withdrawal can contribute to depression.
While work-related stress, also affects job satisfaction and career advancement, burnout and work-life balance issues can also take a toll on mental health and increase the risk of depression. As resulting, depression can make it challenging to concentrate, make decisions, and perform well at work, including decreased productivity, absenteeism, and lack of responsibilities, leading to an uncompleted task within deadlines.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
As we already realized that depression can impact different aspects of a person’s life. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mood disorder is crucial for early identification and intervention to seek appropriate help and support. The symptoms of depression can vary from person to person and may include:
• Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
• Loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
• Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
• Having trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions
• Self-criticism or negative thoughts
• A lack of enthusiasm, passion, or energy
• Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide
• Appetite or weight changes (either decreased or increased)
• Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or oversleeping
• Fatigue or a loss of energy
• Physical signs like headaches, backaches, or stomachaches
• Withdrawal from relationships or social interactions
• Difficulty in maintaining relationships or work performance
• Decreased productivity or increased absences from work
• Loss of interest or motivation in work-related tasks
It’s important to remember that not everyone suffering from mood disorder will experience these symptoms, and their severity and duration can vary. However, if you or someone you know is experiencing a combination of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it could be a sign of a depressive episode, and professional help should be sought.
Emotional Well-being Treatment Options
The good news is that depression is a treatable condition with several effective treatment options available, including those offered at Emotional Well-being clinics in Thailand. However, the treatment for depression is not one-size-fits-all, and a personalized approach that takes into account the individual’s unique needs and preferences is essential. Depending on the severity of the depression, individual preferences, and other factors, it may include a combination of the following:
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counseling, is a common and effective treatment for depression. It involves working with a trained mental health professional to explore and address the underlying causes of mood disorder, develop coping strategies, and learn new ways of thinking and behaving. Some common types of psychotherapy used for depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), psychodynamic therapy (APA), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which can help individuals with depression explore and understand their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as well as leaning coping skills, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and improve their overall mental well-being.
Antidepressant medication is frequently prescribed by a qualified healthcare provider to individuals with moderate to severe depression to help balance neurochemicals in the brain and alleviate depression symptoms. Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are commonly used to treat Emotional Well-being, either alone or in conjunction with other treatments such as psychotherapy.
Working with a qualified healthcare provider to determine the most suitable medication and dosage for an individual’s needs is critical as it may take several weeks to see the full effect and should be taken exactly as directed.
Lifestyle changes can also be effective in managing depression. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, and stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and relaxation can all help to improve mood, energy levels, and overall well-being. Daily routines that include healthy habits can supplement other treatment modalities and enhance mental health.
Addressing relationship and work-related issues can also help with Emotional Well-being management. This may involve improving communication and relationships with loved ones, setting healthy boundaries at work, seeking support from colleagues or supervisors, and, if possible, considering changes to the work environment. The ability to manage relationships and work-related stressors can help people feel better mentally.
Brain stimulation therapies:
When other treatments have failed to relieve severe or treatment-resistant mood disorder or have proven ineffective, brain stimulation therapies such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) may be considered.
Complementary and alternative therapies:
Some people may find relief from depression through complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbal supplements, and mindfulness practices. However, before attempting these therapies, it is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional because their safety and effectiveness may vary.
Coping Strategies and Self-Care for Managing Emotional Well-being
Depression is a treatable condition, but untreated depression can have serious consequences on various aspects of life, including mental health, physical health, relationships, work/school performance, and overall well-being. If left untreated, depression can lead to worsening symptoms, increased risk of developing other mental or physical health conditions, social isolation, impaired daily functioning, and even suicidal ideation or behaviors.
In addition to professional help, several coping strategies and self-care practices can help individuals manage their mood disorder. Here are some tips:
• Build a Strong Support System: Reach out to trusted friends, family, or a support group for emotional support.
• Prioritize Self-Care: Maintain a healthy lifestyle, practice relaxation techniques, and engage in enjoyable activities.
• Challenge Negative Thoughts: Use cognitive-behavioral techniques to identify and change negative thought patterns.
• Establish a Routine: Create a structured daily routine for stability and purpose.
• Avoid Alcohol and Drugs: Substance use can worsen Emotional Well-being.
• Consider Therapy or Medication: Professional therapy and medication can be effective in managing depression.
In conclusion, it is crucial to understand that depression can affect anyone and may be closer than you realize. It is not something to be ashamed of or ignore. If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, it is important to seek help without hesitation. Depression is a treatable condition that requires proper care and attention. It is possible to overcome depression and achieve a satisfying life by receiving appropriate support and treatment.
Don’t suffer in silence; reach out and take that first step toward healing. Keep in mind that assistance is within reach, and it’s possible to achieve recovery.
WellMed Bangkok Clinic is dedicated to providing thorough and compassionate care to people who are struggling with mental health challenges. You don’t have to face it alone. Seek help and prioritize your mental health. Our clinic is located in Bangkok, Thailand, just a three-minute walk away from the Asok BTS station and the Sukhumvit MRT station. You are welcome to schedule an appointment at your convenience.
We also provide a range of other services, including wound care, blood tests, prescription refill, online doctor consultation and even doctor visits at your hotel for added convenience. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your specific needs.