While we can all feel sad, moody, low or irritable from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for extended periods of time and sometimes without any apparent reason. This is called a depressive episode if those symptoms, combined with others, last for at least 14 days in a row. Then it is more than just a low mood or feeling irritable and it can be a serious illness that has an impact on both physical and mental health. Depression affects how people feel about themselves. They may lose interest in work, school, hobbies and doing things they would normally enjoy. They may lack energy, have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual. Some people feel irritable and some find it hard to concentrate. Depression makes life more difficult to manage from day to day. And in some rare cases, it can result in the death of the sufferer due to suicide.
Depression in men
Depression is a loaded word in our culture. Many associate it, however wrongly, with a sign of weakness and excessive emotion. This is especially true with men. Depressed men are less likely than women to acknowledge feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness. Instead, they tend to complain about fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, and loss of interest in work and hobbies. Other signs and symptoms of depression in men include anger, aggression, violence, reckless behaviour, and substance abuse. Even though depression rates for women are twice as high as those in men, men are a higher suicide risk, especially older men.
Depression in women
Rates of depression in women are twice as high as they are in men. This is due in part to hormonal factors, particularly when it comes to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), postpartum depression, and premenopausal depression. As for signs and symptoms, women are more likely than men to experience pronounced feelings of guilt, sleep excessively, overeat, and gain weight. Women are also more likely to suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Depression in teens
While some depressed teens appear sad, others do not. In fact, irritability—rather than depression—is frequently the predominant symptom in depressed adolescents and teens. A depressed teenager may be hostile, grumpy, or easily lose his or her temper. Unexplained aches and pains are also common symptoms of depression in young people. Left untreated, teen depression can lead to problems at home and school, drug abuse, self-loathing—even irreversible tragedy such as homicidal violence or suicide. But with help, teenage depression is highly treatable.
Depression in older adults
The difficult changes that many older adults face—such as bereavement, loss of independence, and health problems—can lead to depression, especially in those without a strong support system. However, depression is not a normal part of aging. Older adults tend to complain more about the physical rather than the emotional signs and symptoms of depression, and so the problem often goes unrecognised. Depression in older adults is associated with poor health, a high mortality rate, and an increased risk of suicide, so diagnosis and treatment are extremely important. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to becoming over medicated and the consequent negative side effects.
The Kusnacht Practice has pioneered the treatment of depression without the use of prescription medications. Treatment is based on a treatment plan precisely tailored to the client’s needs and is created following: a review of their medical file, a comprehensive medical examination, three assessments, biochemical (including neurochemistry) and genetic testing and analysis that we complete during the first few days of their stay with us. We treat the entire person: body, mind and soul. Our priority is to identify and treat the underlying causes of the depression, not just the symptoms with prescription medication. In our experience, prescription pharmaceuticals often don’t work well enough for many people and their side effects create new psychological and physical health problems.
Our goal is for the client to leave The Kusnacht Practice with the knowledge and skills to live a happy and productive life, free from depression and prescription medications.
Read more about our treatment approach here.
Dr. med. Konrad Hitz, Medical Director, The Kusnacht Practice