Depression: how to escape from black thoughts?

It is worthwhile for someone in our environment to say that he has depression, we begin to look at him with an involuntary rebuke. "Get yourself together, pull yourself together," is most often pronounced in response. After all, we are sure that our friend just does not (does not want to) control his mood and makes a molehill of an elephant. "This is because we are often confused with depression with sadness, sadness, melancholy," explains psychiatrist Elena Vrono. - It seems to us a temporary condition like a runny nose or a bruise from a bruise - that which goes by itself. However, depression is a real disease. " Studies of neurophysiologists show that its effect on human health can be extremely dangerous. But depression is treated. Antidepressants and psychotherapy come to the rescue. What are the causes of this disease? How does it manifest itself? And what if we ourselves or a person close to us fell ill?

How to determine what is at stake

Not every negative experience speaks to the state of depression. Sadness, sadness, melancholy are separate emotions, and depression involves a complex combination of feelings, ideas, memories and thoughts."So throughout life we ​​repeatedly experience sadness, which is an adequate reaction to the situation of separation, disappointment, failure, loss," says American psychologist Carroll Izard. "When depressed, sadness is supplemented by other emotions - most often shame, loss of self-esteem and aggression, which a person experiences in relation to himself." If your relatives or you yourself began to look at life too gloomily, it is worthwhile to understand what you are dealing with-a strong emotional experience of some events in life or with a mental disorder. "A depressed mood, loss of interest in life, loss of strength, apathy, when nothing brings pleasure. Significant decrease in appetite and weight. Insomnia or drowsiness. Anxiety or lethargy. Decreased performance, memory impairment and concentration of attention. Loss of the meaning of life. If most of these signs manifest themselves constantly and not less than two weeks, we can say that this is depression, "Elena Vrono believes. It is also known that the tendency to take everything at its own expense, especially the unpleasant ("this is my fault," "I'm always unlucky"), is also a sign of depressive states."It is important to know," Elena Vrono continues, "that the signs of depression can manifest themselves in a rather mild form, and have a pronounced (morbid) character."

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Depression is studied by various specialists: neurophysiologists, biochemists, genetics, endocrinologists, psychologists. And they all agree that this disease is caused by two main factors: hereditary predisposition and the environment in which a person grows and lives.

One of the latest genetic studies was conducted by a group of scientists from the University of Granada (Spain) under the guidance of professors Jorge Ballesteros (Jorge Ballesteros) and Blanca Martinez **. They proved the relationship between the onset of depression and the particular structure of one of the genes associated with the mechanism of the transfer of serotonin (a neurotransmitter responsible for our mood). It turned out that those of us who are carriers of such a genotype, the trigger of depression can be the most insignificant stress. Those who have a different structure of this gene, are not depressed at all.

Meanwhile, there is another view on the occurrence of this disease. "It's obvious that depression is of family origin," says American psychoanalyst Nancy McWilliams, "but for now we can not assess to what extent this disease is transmitted genetically, and in what depressive behavior of parents becomes the reason for similar behavior of their children" ***. "Postpartum depression of the mother, which is accompanied by depression, detachment, anxiety, inability to feel the needs of the baby, is very strong on it and contributes to a certain degree of predisposition to this disease," agrees psychoanalyst Vitaly Zimin. - The fact that the boundaries of the "I" in infancy are very blurred, the child does not yet share himself and the people around him and the maternal depression is experiencing as his own. "

In other words, the presence of an "unfavorable" genotype is not a prerequisite for the formation of depressive disorders. Moreover, a warm, trusting relationship in the family reduces the risk of the disease, even if they have a genetic predisposition.

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In an incredible variety of modern studies of depression, most of the work is based on measuring the neural activity of the brain. What happens in it, when we read, think, feel any emotions? Identifying the features of the functioning of the brain of those who suffer from depression (in comparison with healthy people), allows you to better understand what treatment may be most effective.

Psychologists and psychiatrists at the University of Wisconsin (USA) first used the electromagnetic resonance method to see the connection between brain activity and the ability to control their emotions ****. The participants of the experiment considered images that caused strong negative experiences (road accidents, grin of angry animals, etc.), and in their mental efforts tried to reduce their emotional reaction. To do this, they imagined a positive outcome of the situation or imagined it only a shot from a film that has nothing to do with real life. It turned out that all healthy people are able to consciously manage their emotions, but in depressed mental efforts do not affect their intensity.In addition, the more they make efforts to understand and control their emotions, the more they are kindled, getting into a vicious circle of gloomy thoughts. Dr. John Johnstone, one of the authors of the study, believes that in the course of depression, systems of nerve connections between different centers of the brain are broken: the control center is not able to send a "calming" signal to the center of emotions.

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Another study - French neurophysiologists - confirmed the existence in our brain of a zone that is responsible for the tendency to "personalize", to refer information to oneself personally. It turned out that in healthy people this zone is activated only when they think about themselves. In depressed people, this zone tends to intensify in response to any questions, especially with negative overtones. In other words, when they are asked: "What do you think about stinginess, greed? .." - Depressed people perceive the question as if they are asked: "Do you have such a defect?" And they tend to respond positively. So, when people with depression say,that "it is stronger than them" and they can not react differently, they can be trusted: the perception of the world does not depend on their desire. But you can try to correct it.

Treatment of depression helps to cope with chronic diseases

Depression can disable many more people than angina, arthritis, asthma and diabetes can do, a group of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), led by Dr. Somnath Chatterji, concluded. They conducted a survey among 245,000 people from 60 WHO member countries. The survey participants answered the questions: how do they sleep, do their pains worry, are they intense, do they have problems with memory and concentration of attention, how do they cope with everyday tasks. The results of the survey showed that depression is the most destructive for health; If a person suffers from depression on the background of a chronic disease, it aggravates the course of the disease. 3.2% of the respondents experienced depression at least once in the last year; among those suffering from angina, 4.5% were; among patients with arthritis - 4.1%; among asthmatics - 3.3%; among diabetics - 2%.Moreover, up to 23% of people suffer from depression on the background of one or more of the diseases listed above, which is much higher than the probability of depression in a person who does not have a chronic illness. "Depression combined with a chronic illness affects the body destructively, as it worsens the patient's condition despite treatment of the underlying disease," says Dr. Chatterjee. "These results point to the need to make depression treatment a priority."

* The Lancet, September 8, 2007.

There is an exit

So, everyone who experiences depression, perceives life in black, evaluates what is happening from a negative point of view, because that is how the disruption of the functioning of their brain manifests. "However, fortunately, these processes are reversible," says Elena Vrono. "A steady tendency to notice and scroll in your head negative information can be eliminated."

It is interesting to compare how the two main directions in the treatment of depression - treatment with the help of special medications, antidepressants and cognitive psychotherapy - work. It turns out that both change the biology of the brain.Moreover, psychotherapy, forcing patients to work on the connection of "negative thoughts - negative emotions," has a direct effect on those areas of the brain that are responsible for a personalized perception of negative information.

Often happens that, going through the hardest emotional disorder, depression, we are drawing a visit to a specialist, we hope to cope with them with our own efforts. However, this hope is false. "At the heart of the concomitant depression of disorders of emotions, memory, thinking, there are violations of biochemical processes that can really be corrected with the help of modern medicines, as well as psychotherapy," says Elena Vrono. - And the correct treatment - purely individual, general advice can not be. The rule here is only one thing: if it's pragmatic to feel heartache and get help on time, you can be sure: it's being treated. "

* K. Izard "Psychology of emotions." Peter, 2003. ** Details of the research on the site devoted to the latest scientific developments: www.innovations-report.com *** N. Mc-Williams "Psychoanalytic Diagnosis". Class, 1998. **** www.sciencedaily.com

Dual feelings

The first psychoanalytic hypothesis about what constitutes depression was put forward by Sigmund Freud. In 1917 he wrote the work "Woe and melancholy," in which he contrasted depressive (melancholic) states with the natural experience of grief. "In Freud's opinion, both grief and depression are a complex of feelings (sadness, depression, guilt, aggression against oneself) that results from the loss of either a significant person or some psychological state: love, security, well-being, ideals, hopes, self-image, "explains the psychoanalyst Vitaly Zimin. "However, unlike depression, grief over time passes: we accept loss, finding ourselves a new object for attachment, love or restoring self-image, ideals, hopes. With depression, this does not happen. Freud explained this by saying that a person experiences not only positive feelings, but also a strong hatred for what he has lost, and directs it to his own "I". That's why people who are depressed are very aggressive, directed towards themselves (as a rule, they manifest themselves in cruel self-incriminations that lead to a state of deep depression). "

Have a question?
  • Society of family counselors and psychotherapists, tel .: (495) 517-7524.
  • Society for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, tel .: (495) 314-1877.
  • Institute of Cognitive Counseling, tel .: (495) 684-1787.
Text: Elena Ratner, Svetlana Soustina Photo source: Panthermedia.com
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