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Research papers on depression are written for students who take psychology courses that require comprehensive examination of this major disorder. Paper Masters custom writes each and every research paper we do on depression to fit the guidelines of your specific course or requirements.

Major depression, sometimes called unipolar or clinical depression, affects almost 7 million women and more than 3 million men each year. The illness can occur in children, teenagers, and adults and crosses all ethnic, racial and socioeconomic lines. Major depression is not the same as normal emotional experiences like sadness or loss. The illness can drastically hinder a person's behavior, mood, physical health, and activity level. Left untreated, major depression can lead to suicide.

According to Psychology Information Online, an Internet resource for information about the practice of psychology, major depression can be a one-time event in a person's life, brought on by a major psychological or traumatic event, such as death of a loved one, divorce, or other significant life loss. An illness that engages both the body and the mind, depression affects all areas of a person's life. Anyone suffering from major depression knows that "snapping out of it" is not an option. The person with major depression loses his or her ability to work, sleep, eat, study, and take pleasure in the things they once enjoyed. This type of depression responds to treatment and may never reoccur. Some people, however, suffer from recurring episodes of depression, with unaffected years in between.

The term "depression" refers to a state of low mood, a situation that can affect a person's thoughts and behaviors, and occasionally leads towards suicidal thoughts. People suffering from depression experience states of sadness, anxiety, emptiness, hopelessness, and frequently lose interest in activities that were once deemed pleasurable.

A state of depression is often the result of a normal reaction to certain life events, such as the death of a loved one or loss of a job. It is also a psychiatric syndrome, known as clinical depression. Clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is characterized by a period of at least two weeks during which a person has a depressed mood and a loss of interest in nearly all activities. Bipolar disorder consists of alternating periods of depression and abnormally elevated moods, called manic states.

Depression Treatments

Some states of depression are normal and do not require treatment. Others, such as clinical depression, are treated with medications, known as anti-depressants, therapy, or both. Different types of depression receive varying types of treatment approaches. Some depressive states can be effectively treated with lifestyle changes, such as increasing exercise, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet. A fortunate few people experiencing depression can be treated and back to living healthy, productive lives just through lifestyle changes.

There are many studies that point out that the occurrence of stressors in a person's life sets the stage for an ensuing onset of a major depressive episode. The degree to which those traumatic events cause depression and whether or not genetic factors were also involved was the topic of a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Drs. Kenneth S. Kendler, Laura M. Karkowski, and Carol A. Prescott assessed 15 different classes of stressful events, which ranged from personal events like assault, job loss, and financial problems, to problems like not getting along with another person, death or serious illness, or a serious personal crisis. They set out to clarify whether or not those serious stresses contributed directly to an episode of major depression. Their conclusions suggested that the risk of a major depressive episode following a stressful life event increased substantially than if no stressful event occurred. However, they also found that people with genetically influenced traits like "neurotic" or "difficult" may predispose them both to exposure to stressful events, as well as episodes of depression.

The diagnosis and treatment of a mental illness should begin with a physical examination. This should rule out any medications or medical conditions whose effects or symptoms may mirror that of major depression. After that, an evaluation should be conducted that includes a complete history, severity of symptoms, the date they began, whether or not the person had them before and whether or not treatment was administered. Information about drug and alcohol use, suicide thoughts, and family history of mental illness should also be gathered. Finally, a diagnostic evaluation should be conducted to get a snapshot of the person's current mental status and the effects it is having on his or her speech, thoughts, or memory. Once all pertinent information has been collected, an appropriate treatment plan can be established. Major depression can be an overwhelming illness, but is very treatable. Statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health state that between 80 and 90 percent of people suffering from serious depression can be treated and go on to live normal lives. Currently, there are three ways to treat major depression: medication, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy.

Antidepressant medications are used to treat imbalances of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain and were first introduced about 50 years ago. There are five categories of antidepressants most commonly prescribed for major depression. Tricyclic antidepressants elevate mood and help return sleep patterns, appetite and energy back to their normal levels. These medications usually take about three to four weeks before their effects are realized. Some examples of tricyclic antidepressants include doxeprine, imipramine, nortiptyline, and protriptyline. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, are prescribed for people who do not respond to other medications. These people, who exhibit atypical depressive symptoms, which include marked anxiety, hyponchondria, or phobia, are given Nardil or Parnate. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, target the neurotransmitter serotonin and people taking these experience fewer side effects. Common examples of SSRIs include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Lexapro.Elements of Depression to Overview in Your Research Paper

A diagnosis of major depression signifies a considerable change in behavior. When several of the following symptoms of the depressive disorder occur at the same time and last for more than two weeks, professional treatment is recommended:

  • Persistently sad, depressed, anxious, empty, or irritable mood
  • Insomnia, oversleeping, and other changes in sleep
  • Marked changes in appetite - overeating, weight loss, weight gain
  • Loss of energy; agitation
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, thinking, remembering
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities and hobbies that were once enjoyed
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • Persistent physical symptoms, like headaches, digestive disorders, or chronic pain, that does not respond to medical treatment

Through scientific research, major depression has been recognized as a biological brain disorder. According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, this country's largest grass roots mental health organization, major depression is a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. There is no one cause. Clinical states of depression can result from chemical imbalances in the brain, genetics, stressful life events, and certain illnesses and medications.

The brain produces three chemicals that transmit electrical signals between brain cells: norepinephrine, serotonin - which is associated with appetite, energy, mood, and sleep, and dopamine - which controls body movements. Under stressful conditions, the brain burns serotonin at a higher rate. In fact, it burns more than it can replace, resulting in an imbalance. That's what causes depression. In addition to the above mentioned signs of depression, when serotonin levels drop, the depressed person may experience early morning wake-ups, racing negative thoughts, and other cognitive signs such as believing he or she is a burden to loved ones, or the sensation of going crazy.

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