According to reports by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, depression is common in our area. They claim that 11.5%, or over 900,000, of LA County residents, are currently diagnosed with depression. The number is even higher when you think about the cases that go unreported.

Depression can affect people of all ages, races, socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. The symptoms may vary, however, depending on an individual’s circumstances.

Symptoms of Depression

When we use the term “depression,” we refer to symptoms that include sadness, loss of interest in people or activities, or an overall feeling of dread or gloom. There are times when depression occurs, and it is considered normal. Like, when a loved one dies, when expectations were not met, or when there is an unexpected, unwanted change in life.

Hopefully, an individual’s symptoms improve after he or she begins to adjust to the changes. If the symptoms persist for more than a few months, it may be a sign of a depressive disorder.

There are several common symptoms associated with depression, including the following:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Problems sleeping
  • Body aches and pains
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling like crying at any given moment and sometimes, for no reason.
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Feeling lonely, even when accompanied by others.
  • Feeling empty inside
  • Digestive problems
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness

While these are just some of the symptoms related to depression, they are the most common. For the most accurate diagnosis, it’s helpful to write down all symptoms.

We want to make sure there are no underlying causes of depression.

Causes of Depression

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain and gut that, when released, creates feelings of happiness. For some, the brain does not produce enough serotonin naturally. This leads to depression. There are many reasons why this happens.

Genetics can be one cause of depression. If there is a history of depression within a family, the traits may have been passed down. Furthermore, addictive substances could alter how serotonin is produced in the brain.

The environment can influence depressive symptoms. An unhealthy neighborhood or home, may affect mood. For example, if someone is physically or verbally abused at home, an individual may experience depression. Addiction, as either a user or a loved one of a user, may cause an individual to experience periods of depression.

Experiencing trauma at any time may also cause depression. Examples of trauma can include physical or verbal abuse, sexual abuse, injuries, war combat, and even natural disasters. Traumas alter the way an individual’s brain copes with stress, often leading to depressive symptoms.

Many people experience depression following medical conditions that change how the body functions. Thyroid disorders, Lyme disease, and adrenal function are medical conditions often connected to depression. Hormones, weight, diet, and physical activity all play a role in regulating moods. An individual’s specific symptoms will help our professionals determine the type of depression.

Common Types of Depression

The list below provides an overview of some of the more common types of depression.

Clinical depression is a common form defined by persistent low moods and that may interfere with daily functioning. Clinical depression can range from mild to severe.

Postpartum Depression is a form that appears in women after giving birth to a child. It can be due to a change in hormones during and after pregnancy.

Seasonal-Affective Disorder is a form that appears during a specific season each year and subsides when the season changes. Many people have this disorder during the winter months when the days are shorter, and they do not get as much sunlight or time outdoors.

Bipolar or Manic Depression will cause an individual to experience dramatic changes in mood, fluctuating between severe depression periods to extreme mania.

Depressive Psychosis is a form in which someone can lose touch with reality. They may even experience hallucinations or delusions or both. Depressive Psychosis can change physical functions such as slowing movements or making it hard to stay still.

Effective treatments are available for all types of depression.

Depression Treatment

At the Mental Health Center, we coordinate a treatment plan with individuals, based on symptoms and lifestyle. Treatments can include one or multiple aspects.

If depression makes it difficult to participate in complementary therapies, an individual may be struggling with a daily routine. Antidepressant medication may be a way to boost the serotonin in the brain enough to help an individual learn and benefit from other therapies, including cognitive behavior therapy.

Other treatments include brain stimulation, light therapy, exercise, dietary changes, and mindfulness approaches like Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Solution for Treatment-Resistant Depression

Sometimes, no matter what an individual ties, the depression seems to linger. This does not mean help is unavailable.

In such cases, we implement Ketamine treatment. Ketamine has been used as an anesthetic for decades and has shown great effectiveness in treating depression.

Ketamine works by blocking glutamate, which is associated with stress. So, instead of boosting the chemicals that fight stress, like most antidepressants, we block it altogether.

Ketamine treatments should only be administered by high trained psychiatrists, like the ones at our center. We provide multiple options for administration, including injection, infusion, or a nasal spray.

The effects of Ketamine Assisted Therapy can last for months. The typical protocol includes six treatments over a two or three week period, followed by booster shots throughout the year.

If an individual is experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment today. We can provide telehealth services for all needs.

The Mental Health Center can provide in-person meetings with our psychiatrists.

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