Depression

Depressed Man

Depression is more than just feeling low or sad from time to time. It is a serious condition that makes it hard for a person to cope with, and take pleasure from, daily life.

Depression affects people of all ages, from children at school and those at work, to grandparents at home. Research shows that on average 1 in 6 people will experience depression at some stage of their lives, with over 1 million Australian adults having depression in any one year.

Common symptoms

At The Perth Brain Centre we help people with common symptoms of depression such as:

  • Difficulties with attention and concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling low, miserable and sad
  • Headaches and muscle pains
  • Loss of drive and motivation
  • Losing interest and pleasure in usual activities
  • Loss of appetite
  • Memory problems
  • Sleeping problems

What causes depression?

While we don’t know exactly what causes depression, latest research using sophisticated brain-imaging suggests that it is caused by problems with key networks in the brain that regulate the control of cognition (thinking) and emotions (feelings).

2-D QEEG Brain Map showing decreased (seen as dark blue areas) slow frequency brainwave activity seen in a patient with depression. This decreased slow frequency brainwave activity is localised to a region of the brain known as left dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex.

 

3-D QEEG brain imaging known as Loretta Analysis also showing decreased (seen as dark blue areas) slow frequency brainwave activity seen in a patient with depression. 3-D Loretta Analysis can help pin-point the problem areas in the brain, and in this case confirm the presence of dysregulation of the left dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex.

3-D QEEG brain imaging known as Loreta Analysis also showing decreased (seen as dark blue areas) slow frequency brainwave activity seen in a patient with depression. 3-D Loreta Analysis can help pin-point the problem areas in the brain, and in this case confirm the presence of dysregulation of the left dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex.

 

Depression usually results from a combination of recent events and other long-term or personal risk factors, rather than one recent problem or event.

Life events – Research suggests that continuing difficulties such as long-term health problems or prolonged work stress are more likely to cause depression than recent life stresses. However, recent events (such as losing your job) or a combination of events can ‘trigger’ depression if you are already at risk.

Risk factors – Research suggests that risk factors such as a family history of depression, drug and alcohol abuse, on-going medical problems (such as chronic pain), and even personality type can all serve to increase the risk of depression.

It is important to understand that everyone is different and that it is not always possible to identify the cause of someone’s depression. The most important thing is to recognise the signs and symptoms and find help.

Types of depression

Just like other problems such as anxiety, there are quite a few different types of depression. Some common types include:

Major depression – Major depression is sometimes called major depressive disorder, clinical depression or just ‘depression’. People experience symptoms of low mood most days and also lose interest and pleasure in usual activities. Everyone is different and symptoms can be vary between mild to severe.

Dysthymic disorder – The symptoms of dysthymia are similar to those of major depression but are less severe. However, in the case of dysthymia, symptoms last longer. A person has to have this milder depression for more than two years to be diagnosed with dysthymia.

Antenatal and postnatal depression – Women are at an increased risk of developing depression during pregnancy and in the year following childbirth. Many women experience the “baby blues” following the birth of their child, and this is related to hormonal changes and general stress adjusting to pregnancy and a new baby. The “baby blues” are common and different to depression, which generally lasts for much longer and can affect not only the mother, but also her relationship with her baby, the baby’s development, and the mother’s relationship with her partner and the rest of the family.

Bipolar disorder – Bipolar disorder used to be called ‘manic depression’ because the person experiences episodes of depression and mania, with periods of normal mood in between.Mania is the opposite of depression and can vary in intensity. Symptoms include feeling amazing, having lots of energy and little need for sleep, talking quickly, having racing thoughts and difficulty focusing on tasks, and feeling frustrated and irritable. Sometimes people can lose touch with reality and experience episodes of psychosis (which can result in hallucinations and delusions).

Treatments for depression

Everyone is different and there is no one proven treatment for depression that helps everyone. However there are a range of effective treatments that can help.

Psychology – Psychological treatments, also known as “talking therapies”, can help you change your thinking patterns and improve your coping skills so you’re better equipped to deal with the stresses of life. As well as supporting your recovery, psychological treatments can also help you stay well by identifying and changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviour. There are several common psychological treatments including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

Medical treatments – The main medical treatment for depression is antidepressant medication. While there is no simple explanation as to how it works, it can be very useful in the treatment of moderate to severe depression. Some people, with more complex types of depression, may benefit from a combination of medications.

Trans-cranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)At The Perth Brain Centre we offer Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). This is a “cutting-edge” brain-based therapy that is proven to be an effective treatment for a number of conditions, including depression.

tDCS is a very safe and non-invasive treatment that uses a weak direct electric current to enhance neuroplasticity in the brain by modulating (changing) the activity of neurones. Research shows that gently stimulating an area of the brain called the left dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex (DLFPC) with tDCS can result in significant and lasting improvements in depression.

To discover how we can help you please call to arrange an appointment on (08) 6500 3277 now.