Clinical Depression

I suffered from major depressive disorder for more than thirty years before seeking help. The symptoms were mild and sporadic in the early years. By the time I was treated, my mental function had deteriorated to the point that I wondered if I had Alzheimer's disease.

I had no idea my progressively worsening mental, physical and emotional symptoms were all part of the same illness. The emotional depression was crushingly painful and never abated, day or night. But the mental symptoms are what finally drove me to seek help. I lost the ability to control the speed or content of my racing, irrational thoughts. I couldn't focus. I would read paragraphs over and over, unable to process or retain the information. I lost much of my vocabulary. Despite being the recipient of national book awards, writing coherent sentences became increasingly difficult.
Read Judy's story

Clinical Depression and Brain Malfunction

Even today, many mental health professionals blame all depression on emotional, situational, psychological, relational, or spiritual problems or choices.

Advances in brain scanning technology tell a different story. Medical researchers can observe the physiological malfunction associated with clinical depression using nuclear medicine tomographic imaging (SPECT) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI).

If your brain were a computer, clinical depression would be like a damaged hard drive. If your hard drive is damaged, your software malfunctions. You may not realize your hard drive is damaged and go out and buy new software. But the software will continue to malfunction unto you replace your hard drive.

A similar concept applies to clinical depression. Your brain's hardwiring is damaged. Glitches appear in your brain’s "software" -- mental cognition, mood, memory, thought control, perception, concentration, sleep, energy, motivation, and physical health. Over time, the problems become more serious and frequent.

At this point, you may seek help to fix the software, employing traditional software fixes such as psychotherapy, stress reduction and positive thinking techniques.

But if your brain's hardwiring is damaged, these methods will do little good. When the brain is diseased, psyhotheraphy is a distraction and expensive waste of time. Even if you do have a software problem, you will not be able to address it until your brain is healed.

The human brain contains approximately 100 billion nerve cells. It should come as no surprise that this complex, intricate organ is vulnerable to illness just like any other part of the body.

Untreated, major clinical depression destroys brain cells. It actually shrinks your brain.

If that information is depressing (no pun intended), there’s good news. The right medication, if taken soon enough and long enough, can help brain cells regenerate. This process is called neurogenesis.

With depressive illness, one or more of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are depleted. Over time, brain cells and neural pathways are damaged. This disrupts emotional, mental and some physical functions that are regulated by that part of the brain.
Read how clinical depression affects your brain

Clinical Depression Symptoms & Treatment

There are several types of clinical depression, each with different symptoms and treatment strategies.

Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms & Treatment

Bi-polar Disorder Symptoms & Treatment

Post-partum depression Symptoms & Treatment

Anxiety disorders Symptoms and Treatment (includes OCD, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and GAD)

If you are experiencing the symptoms of depressive illness, see your doctor immediately. This website is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide medical advice or replace the advice or your doctor. If you are having suicidal thoughts, immediately call an ambulance or go to the nearest emergency ward.



 Mental Health News

Neuroplasticity reduced in brains of people with depression
The brains of people with depression show a reduced ability to adapt to their environment, learning and memory. a unique study shows. This is one of the first objective tests to show that depression is linked to decreased neuroplasticity. The magnetic stimulation tests also showed the lesssened neuroplasticity was not related to how much effort the person made. Read more

Doctors urge mental health screenings with physical exams
Most people don't address mental health issues until they drastically interfere with their lives, says a new study. This could be avoided with regular screenings.
Read more - USA Today

Calgary Flames Hockey Coach talks about his battle with OCD and depression
Facing a losing battle with depression, OCD and heavy drinking, Clint Malarchuk put a bullet to his bed. Miraculously, he survivived. Today he tells his story to corporations and high schools. "What makes me any different than a diabetic or someone with high cholesterol or a heart condition. You need medication, you take it."
Read more - Calgary Sun

Canada launches wokplace standards for mental health and safety
The Mental Health Commission of Canada released a standardized tool to help Canadian companies promote mental health, reduce stigma and support employees dealing with mental illness.
Read more

Magnetic helmet "rewires" the brain
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a helmet using magnets to treat depression in patients who have failed to respond to antidepressant medications.
Read more

Toronto's CAMH launches Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention
A $7.2 million donation from the Temerty Family Foundation will fund research into promising new treatments for persistent and severe mental illness, including Canada's first clinic using Magnetic Seizure Therapy (MST). Read more

Calgary researchers could help depression sufferers get well sooner
A new pilot project at Foothills Medical Centre and the University of Calgary could one day help people with major depression get well sooner. The study will use blood and urine tests and brain scans to determine if there is a biological marker that will help selecting the most effective medication. Read more


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