June 16th, 2013
Throughout my life my father had always been what I thought growing up a perfect role model, strong and healthy, intelligent, a good provider, and a good teacher to all of his children. Age began to show with time as it does with us all but I never thought that I would see him succumb to unipolar depression as he did with removal of his larynx and half of his esophagus due to cancer and then the death his wife of 52 years.
Four years ago I started to notice some behavioral changes in a co-worker of mine, subtle at first, but with time his mood swings were too great to ignore. Going from what I thought overly happy and jovial to indignant and showing signs of depression I asked if maybe there was a problem. After a couple of visits to the doctors he told me he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
In this paper I discuss the symptoms of both unipolar and bipolar disorders as well as the underlying causes and treatments for available for both, I will start with unipolar depression.
Unipolar depression: is another name for major depressive disorder. It is a mood disorder characterized by a depressed mood, a lack of interest in activities normally enjoyed, changes in weight and sleep, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, difficulty concentrating and thoughts of death and suicide. If a person experiences the majority of these symptoms for longer than a two-week period they may be diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
The term unipolar depression is used to distinguish it from depression which occurs within the context of bipolar disorder, a disorder in which a person experiences alternating periods of depression and mania. (Schimelpfening)
There are several different underlying causes of unipolar depression the most notable being, stressful events like death can trigger bouts of unipolar depression. Other factors have been known to play a part; genetics, studies suggest that some people inherit a predisposition to unipolar depression (Taube-Schiff & Lau, 2008; Berrettini, 2006). Biochemical likes low serotonin have been linked to depression as well, a brain circuit responsible for unipolar depression has also begun to emerge (Insel, 2007).
Major depression significantly affects a person's family and personal relationships, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. Its impact on functioning and well-being has been compared to that of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes. (Wikipedia) Others symptoms include feelings of worthlessness, guilt, regret, helplessness, self-hatred, fatigue, headaches, digestive problems and a decreased appetite.
Along with anti-depression drugs like MAO inhibitors, and several different types of therapy, like group therapy, One of the most controversial forms of treatment for depression is electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT. In this procedure, two electrodes are attached to the patient’s head, and 65 to 140 volts of electricity are passed through the brain for a half second or less. This results in a brain seizure that lasts from 25 seconds to a few minutes. After 6 to 12 such treatments, spaced over two to four weeks, most patients feel less depressed (Medda et al., 2009; Fink, 2007, 2001).