Recent research on depressive states

Depression is a term used in contemporary medicine to designate the state of psychic suffering that was known to ancient therapists as melancholy. In addition to insomnia, anxiety, loss of appetite, and/or suicidal thoughts, its most severe forms pose a significant risk to the person’s life, especially when leading to suicide or refusal to take food.

Depression affects one in five people in their lifetime, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 300 million people fall into a depressive state each year. Considering the fact that this number has been increasing (+ 19% between 2008 and 2018), many public voices have started questioning the competence of medicine to view the disorder from the right angle.

Sociology-oriented healthcare experts believe that the understanding of depression as a deeply personal issue is outdated. Aside from an underlying genetic cause, the person’s share of biological, psychological and environmental factors should also be taken into account. These elements interact with each other to create a vicious circle that leads to depression.

Causes of depression

As body and mind are inextricably linked, stress, whether physical or mental, become the major cause of a depressive state. Since emotional distress leads to an adrenaline discharge, stress of literally any kind shifts the body to a state of hyper-vigilance, which is useful, performance-wise, only up to a certain degree. When the level of stress is too high, be it minor continuous events (e.g., threat of dismissal, daily hardships), or a single traumatic event (such as bereavement or break in relationships), it becomes exceedingly difficult to regain self-control.

Sometimes a depression sufferer feels strong enough. They manage to maintain the connection with the events and accept the need to cope with the situation autonomously. For them, depression has mainly physical manifestations (chest pain, fatigue, headaches etc.) that must be treated symptomatically.

Alternatively, the person may suffer both physically and psychologically, not being able to cope on their own. Conditions like this one ought to be relieved by suitable psychotherapy because there is a risk of aggravation.

Finally, causes for depressive states should not necessarily be consistent with reality. Genetic predisposition is often the reason for a person to enter ‘the blues’ and it alone suffices for the development of a serious clinical issue.

Published by Evelyn Green