Treating Depression with a Multipronged Approach
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines depression as follows:
‘Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed…’
Depression is markedly different than a feeling of sadness or grief. This mental health condition is overwhelming and crippling. When grief is coupled with depression, a protracted period of grieving ensues. Contrary to popular opinion, depression is rooted in multiple risk factors including environmental elements, personality, genetic predisposition, and the body’s own biochemistry. The good news for people who suffer from depression is that treatment regimens are available. As a mental health disorder, the APA estimates that 80% – 90% of people suffering from depression typically respond to treatments.
Treatment for depression is multifold. Various mental health treatment regimens have been suggested over the years, notable among them Deep TMS. This treatment regimen – Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – is an upgraded form of the standard figure 8 r TMS treatment. This non-invasive treatment protocol uses magnetic fields to regulate neural activity in the patient’s brain. It specifically targets those areas of the brain where depression manifests. There is no need for anesthesia or a recovery period thereafter.
TMS treatment was FDA-cleared in 2013 and is also highly effective as a treatment for another condition, obsessive-compulsive disorder. It has broad-spectrum usage across Europe for the treatment of depression and other mental health disorders, including OCD.
Is the Pandemic Exacerbating Depression in People Around the World?
To better answer this question, we reference a study posted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) on August 14, 2020, a weekly op-ed titled: ‘Mental Health, Substance Use, And Suicidal Ideation During The COVID-19 Pandemic – United States, June 24-30, 2020.’ During the period in question, some 40% of adults in the US ‘reported struggling with mental health or substance use’. This directly correlates to increased levels of anxiety, trauma, and stressor-related disorders. Mental health problems were certainly exacerbated by the coronavirus, particularly among minorities, unpaid adult caregivers, and essential workers.
The most difficult elements of the pandemic to contend with include those related to stay-at-home orders, physical distancing, and mitigating activities related to dealing with the coronavirus. From 2019 and 2020, levels of anxiety rose sharply. Of the young adults aged 18+ in the survey sample, a total of 40.9% reported at least 1 adverse behavioral health condition/mental health condition, including depressive disorder (30.9%). This is a shocking indictment of the severity of isolation and stress on people struggling with depressive disorders. During the survey period in question (June 24-June 30, 2020), 54.7% of eligible adults – or 5412 respondents – completed online surveys administered by the survey company Qualtrics.
Effectively Dealing with Depressive Disorders
The severity of the depressive disorder symptoms varied among respondents, with a greater prevalence of suicidal thoughts among males, compared to females. Increased substance abuse was noted as a way of dealing with the added stressors. Suicidal thoughts were entertained by the younger demographic (18-24 years old), decreasing with respondents in older age groups. Compared to the same period in June 2019, the novel coronavirus was directly responsible for an increase of anxiety disorder symptoms from 8.1% in Q2 2019, to 25.5% in Q2 2020. However, there are shortcomings in the research sample, notably the lack of diagnostic evaluations, substance abuse was notably higher, the prevalence of trauma/stressor-related symptoms which were prolific in many different types of TSRDs, and limited generalization may be inferred as a result of the online nature of the reviews.
Broadly speaking, the novel coronavirus and attendant lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, social distancing requirements, and limited gathering sizes have impacted the mental health of people across the board. This has disproportionately impacted the younger demographic (18 to 24-year-olds) and decreases with older age groups. Naturally, there are additional stress factors impacting major depressive disorder, notably loss of economic opportunity, physical, mental, and emotional abuse, and discrimination. In summary, there is little doubt that the current lockdown has contributed towards increased rates of global depression. With the passage of time, therapeutics and vaccines will be readily available, and help to alleviate the tremendous stress and anxiety being brought to bear by the pandemic. As economies open up and work opportunities become available, stress levels will decline to pre-pandemic levels.