Major depressive disorder, which is usually simply referred to as depression, is a condition that is characterized by chronic feelings of sadness and hopelessness. It is important to note that everyone experiences feelings of sadness from time to time, and that that usually not a cause for concern. However, it is not normal to feel that way all of the time. People who are chronically depressed are at an increased risk for developing physical health problems and committing suicide.

What are some of the symptoms of major depressive disorder?

Feeling sad and hopeless all of the time is the main symptom of this disorder. Fatigue, lack of energy, insomnia, impaired ability to concentrate, weight loss, agitation and worry are some of the other symptoms that may accompany major depressive disorder. Depressed people also have a tendency to isolate themselves from others.

What causes major depressive disorder?

Health experts have not been able to identify the exact cause of depression. However, they have found that genetics, chemical changes in the brain and stressful events may play a role in the development of this condition. Drug and alcohol abuse can also make a person more susceptible to developing major depressive disorder.

What are some treatment options for major depressive disorder?

It is very important for all depressed people to go to their doctor, so that they can get the appropriate treatment. A doctor will usually recommend a combination of therapy and medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy and group therapy are the three forms of therapy that are recommended for depressed patients.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps a patient fight off the negative thoughts that can contribute to major depressive disorder. The goal of psychotherapy is to help patients understand the issues that are causing their condition. Group therapy helps people communicate with others who are experiencing similar issues.

Antidepressants are the standard group of medications prescribed to treat major depressive disorder.

These medications work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Health experts believe that serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters that control happiness. Paxil, Prozac, Lexapro and Celexa are some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants.

Even though antidepressants are extremely effective, they do not come without side effects. Weight gain, appetite loss, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety and reduced sex drive are some of the most commonly reported side effects. Taking antidepressants during pregnancy can be very dangerous. Studies have shown that women who take these medications while they are pregnant are more likely to give birth to a baby with birth defects. Additionally, antidepressants may also increase suicidal behavior in some patients.

What are some things that can be done at home to treat major depressive disorder?

Exercise is one of the most effective home remedies for major depressive disorder. In fact, some studies suggest that exercise may be just as effective as antidepressants. When people exercise, their body releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the body that promote feelings of relaxation and well-being. People should try to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.

There has also been evidence to suggest that omega 3 fatty acids can help treat major depressive disorder. Omega 3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in cold water fish, walnuts and flaxseed oil. Researchers believe that omega 3 fatty acids help improve overall brain health.

Yoga and meditation can also help a person feel better. Even though some patients can treat their condition at home, everyone should consult with their physician before they try any type of natural remedy. Furthermore, no one should stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting with their doctor.

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