Why is it in the fall that many people “get depressed”? It would seem that not so long ago we rested, still full of energy.
Science knows many types of depression, and not all of them are tied to some time of year. Depression may be a reaction to an event in his personal life or a consequence of some bodily illness. And in the autumn-winter period, a certain type of shallow depression is usually exacerbated. This is a seasonal mood disorder associated with metabolic disorders of one important substance – melatonin. It is produced by the small endocrine gland in the brain and plays the role of an important regulator in the body.
First of all, melatonin tidies up our circadian rhythms, that is, it helps us adapt to changing seasonal conditions. And besides, it protects the body from aging, helps the immune system and fertility.
But when there is little sunlight, a person lives under artificial lighting and often “confuses day with night.” The exchange of melatonin is impaired. As a result, his sleep and wake cycles shift. In the evening it is difficult for him to fall asleep, and in the morning it is difficult to wake up. In the afternoon, instead of vigor, he feels fatigue and “fatigue,” and he does not think well.
In such conditions, signs of autumn depression appear. This is despondency, irritability, anxiety or apathy, daytime sleepiness, decreased libido. Often – a craving for eating forbidden foods: sweets, rolls, chips. Moreover, the last point is especially pronounced in women. By the way, at a young age, the weak half of humanity in general is twice as likely to experience depression.
Typically, this seasonal mood disorder lasts two to three months. It would seem not very long. But during this time, the problem can lead to unpleasant consequences. You can lose your job, ruin your personal life. Also, against the background of depression, internal and skin diseases can worsen. So even a shallow seasonal depression is not a joke, it can not be ignored.
But how to distinguish simply a bad mood – who does not have it – from real depression?
Of course, there are diagnostic criteria by which to navigate. But then you must definitely see a specialist.
The fact is that the most severe forms of depression are also cyclical in nature, usually repeated annually in early spring or autumn. The most important thing to pay attention to is the lowered mood background. To one degree or another, most of the time every day, for a minimum of two weeks. That is, the length in time is very important here.
The second characteristic symptom is a loss of interest in everything that recently entertained and pleased you. For example, earlier in the evenings you liked to knit, or watch music programs on TV, or read books to children. But now it no longer inspires you.
There is one more thing typical of classical depression. These are thoughts of one’s own inferiority, inferiority, sinfulness. Moreover, objectively, a person can be quite successful, virtuous and attractive. But considers himself a jerk. Cries and laments that life has failed. Also, with severe depression, sleep, libido, ability to concentrate attention, general activity are disturbed. Appetite decreases – unlike a shallow autumn depression. There is longing, a daily rhythm with increasing depression in the morning. Thoughts about hopelessness and even unwillingness to live.
What if depression is evident in all respects? What means to take – soothing or, conversely, stimulating?
If we are talking about depression, then any initiative here can do much harm. Remember the main rule – this disorder is treated only with antidepressants. That is, special psychotropic drugs that improve mood, reduce feelings of longing, depression, lethargy and apathy. They also relieve increased anxiety, normalize sleep and appetite.
In addition to antidepressant, they can have either a calming or a slight activating effect, or both at once.
A slight short-term relief of symptoms when they are taken may occur. Especially in suggestible people. But they do not treat depression itself. This is important to remember.
And sometimes, if the funds are chosen incorrectly, they can even cause harm. Here is a typical example – a person has a seasonal decline in mood and activity. He began to sleep poorly, could not cope with work, was nervous. He began to conflict with colleagues and relatives. He quickly consults with someone from acquaintances, maybe even with a certain doctor. And he begins to take funds to improve cerebral circulation – the so-called nootropics. But in the end, his nervousness only intensifies, reaching the point of agitation. And all because with anxious depression such drugs are contraindicated. They activate the body and exacerbate existing disorders.
Well, the main thing we found out is that depression is only treated with antidepressants. But there are so many of these remedies in pharmacies. Dozens of different items. Is there any reference drug among them that should start the fight against this problem?
There is no reference medicine and it cannot be. The fact is that any antidepressant is a serious drug with its spectrum of neurochemical activity and side effects, sometimes quite unpleasant. In order not to make a mistake with the choice, the doctor must correctly assess your state of mind and find out a lot of details about your health, lifestyle, and chronic diseases. Choosing the right medicine is an art.
However, in the case of shallow autumn depressions in the medicinal arsenal there is one drug that is suitable for many patients. This Lexapro is one of the newest and most promising antidepressants. Initially, it was aimed at correcting disturbed biorhythms in depression. That is, it helps to sleep better at night, and not to feel sleepy during the day. But then it turned out that his spectrum of action was much wider. It not only improves mood, but also has a mild anti-anxiety effect. It does not excite the nervous system. In addition, agomelatine improves memory and attention, faster than others removes joylessness.
Of all the drugs available in pharmacies today, this is perhaps the safest antidepressant. After all, he has almost no side effects. It does not affect pressure, the work of the heart, kidneys. And goes well with many other medicines. He is prescribed one or two tablets at night.
However, this tool has its own minus. Since the drug is quite mild, it “does not take” severe forms of depression. However, it is also useful in especially difficult cases, as it can be combined with other, more powerful drugs. For example, in the morning and in the afternoon a person receives “heavy artillery”. He enhances the effect of other drugs and reduces their dosage. And, accordingly, reduce the number of side effects that are characteristic of old antidepressants.
And one of the most important and unpleasant effects of this is uncontrolled weight gain?
Alas, it is. Increased appetite and weight gain are observed when taking many drugs for depression. But especially often this effect is caused by the means of the past generation – the so-called tricyclics.
This group of drugs copes well with neglected depression, when, for example, you need to eliminate longing and suicidal intentions. Then we give the patient a dropper with this medicine. But for shallow seasonal depressions, these remedies, of course, are not suitable. In addition to affecting weight, they can disrupt the functioning of the heart, cause urinary retention, and blunt attraction to the opposite sex.
But are there newer drugs?
Yes, science is constantly moving forward. Another group of antidepressants appeared – serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Compatible with many drugs. But at the same time they have their drawbacks. Often against the background of their intake, nausea and diarrhea occur. True, some patients even like these side effects at first – they help to avoid weight gain. However, beware of using them as a means to lose weight!
In addition, in the first one and a half weeks of admission, anxiety may increase and insomnia may appear. Therefore, sometimes they are prescribed only in the morning or under the guise of other drugs – tranquilizers or small antipsychotics.
Even newer drugs are the so-called double-acting antidepressants. They regulate the production of two neurohormones that affect mood.
By force of action, they sometimes come in large doses to the old “heavy artillery”, but are devoid of many of their shortcomings. At the same time, they can cause their specific undesirable effects – sweating, increased heart rate, increased pressure. So they are also not suitable for everyone.
Nevertheless, a competent specialist will be able to choose an effective and safe antidepressant even to the most difficult patient.
Many people are sure that all anti-depression drugs are addictive. You start taking and then you can’t quit. It’s true?
Nothing like this. This is an established myth. There is a single class of drugs that can only cause a certain dependence with long and uncontrolled intake. These are the so-called benzodiazepine tranquilizers. Therefore, most of them are now included in the strict reporting list. In other words, you will not be able to purchase this drug without a special numbered recipe.
But the body cannot get used to antidepressants. Another thing, there are some nuances of canceling any drug. So, for example, treatment usually does not need to be abruptly thrown. It is necessary to reduce the dosage gradually, under the supervision of a doctor, and then there will be no problems. Although some modern drugs, it is quite possible to cancel immediately without unpleasant consequences.
And how long do I need to take antidepressants to completely get rid of the problems?
The timing of treatment depends on the structure and severity of depression. The course can last from several weeks to several years. Mild to moderate seasonal depressive disorder usually “gives up” faster.
But in any case, the treatment consists of three stages. First of all, we eliminate the current symptoms of depression – bad mood, apathy, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, appetite, and libido. It takes from one and a half to three months. Followed by maintenance therapy. The drug is given in a low dosage for about another six months. For many people, such a course is enough.
But if a person suffers from severe depression with reluctance to live, a third stage of treatment is necessary – preventive. The patient receives an antidepressant for several more years, despite the fact that he feels completely healthy.
Fortunately, new drugs, and with such a long intake, can maintain a high quality of life. Even those who once tried in a painful state to take their own lives, regularly taking modern antidepressants, became successful in their careers, prosperous family people.