Depression is major public health in the United States. Both genetic and environmental factors predispose people to depression. It is a potentially lethal and painful illness that requires more attention from various stakeholders in the healthcare sector to reduce its adverse effects on the population. However, the disease can be treated through medication and other therapeutic interventions, especially in the case of early detection.
Depression is a psychological disorder where patients experience sad feelings or minimal interest in the activities of their daily lives. It can be grouped into different categories based on the level of its severity. These categories may include peripartum onset, anxious distress, melancholic catatonia, and seasonal pattern. Some of the risk factors for this condition include genetics, biochemistry, personality, and the environment (Trivedi, 2013). Substance abuse is also a major risk factor for depression, especially among young people.
It is estimated that more than 10% of the people in the country show major depressive episodes every year. About 20% of the population also experiences such episodes in their lives (NIMH, 2019). It is also among the leading cause of death among young and middle adults. Depression is the fourth and second leading cause of death among those aged between 35 to 54 and 10 to 34 years, respectively (NIMH, 2019). Its prevalence rate has also increased by about 33% in the last decade.
Symptoms of depression can vary depending on whether it is severe or mild. Some of its clinical symptoms include feeling sad, sleeping too much, feeling guilty, and loss of pleasure or interest in activities that the patient enjoyed initially. Depressed individuals also demonstrate changes in appetite, increased fatigue, and slow speech and movements (Campbell, Norcross, Vasquez, & Kaslow, 2013). Moreover, they may find it difficult to concentrate, think, or making decisions. Thoughts of suicide or death are also reported among many patients with depression.
Depression is associated with numerous complications. These include weight loss, physical illness, or pain. Excess weight can lead to other problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It is also associated with other mental disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. Most of the patients with chronic illnesses have difficulties in dealing with the symptoms of depression (Bleakley, 2016). Their bodies are already going through other medications, and it may not be possible to concentrate on therapy that physicians use to treat depression.
Physicians can diagnose the causes of depression using four methods, namely physical exam, lab tests, psychiatric evaluation, and the DSM-5. The physical exam involves asking the patients questions concerning their feelings and observing their behaviors even in a clinical setting. In contrast, a laboratory test entails conducting a blood test known as a complete blood count to understand more about the physiology of the patient (Stahl, 2013). The test enables the physician to assess whether the thyroid of the patient is functioning properly or not. In the psychiatric evaluation, a psychiatrist uses his or her mental health professional skills to assess the patient. The professional may ask questions related to the thoughts, symptoms, behaviors, and feelings of a patient. Finally, the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5) is a tool developed by the American psychiatric association. It provides the criteria that physicians can use to diagnose cases of depression in patients. Although depression is a treatable condition, many patients do not receive adequate treatment. The failure in treatment can be attributed to an inability to recognize symptoms, stigma attached to the disease, lack of knowledge, and challenges associated with accessing mental health services, among other factors.
Conclusion with PICOT Question
Although depression is a vital health condition, there are interventions to address it to reduce its health impacts. It has a high prevalence rate among youths and middle-aged populations. It is also associated with various complications, especially among patients with chronic illnesses. The following PICO question can help to address the problem:
Antidepressant drugs can reduce the effects of depression among the youths more effectively than therapy in two months.
Bleakley S. (2016). Antidepressant drug interactions: Evidence and clinical significance. Progression Neurology Psychiatry, 20, 21–7.
Campbell, L., Norcross, J., Vasquez, M., & Kaslow, N. (2013). Recognition of psychotherapy effectiveness: The APA resolution. Psychotherapy, 50, 98–101.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (2019). Major Depression. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml
Stahl, S. (2013). Stahl’s Essential Psychopharmacology: Neuroscientific Basis and Practical Applications, (4th ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Trivedi, M. (2013). Evaluating and monitoring treatment response in depression using measurement-based assessment and rating scales. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 74, e14.