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07.03.2014

Definition of major depressive disorder in psychology, clinical depression solutions - Review

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ABSTRACT: Depression is a common complication of cancer, occurring in about 25% of all patients. Because many clinicians believe that they themselves would be depressed if they had cancer, depression is sometimes viewed as being “appropriate” in cancer patients.
Given the seriousness of depression, it is important for caregivers to recognize and treat it.
The two major diagnoses for significant depressive symptoms are adjustment disorder (reactive depression) and major depression. Because these criteria may not be specific for depression in medical illnesses, a set of psychological criteria is often used in their place. Since depression is both prevalent and treatable in cancer patients, caregivers should routinely screen patients for its presence. Assessment for depression with a rapid mental status examination is feasible and should be done in the context of a regular medical visit. Some screening tools used in oncology settings include the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders (PRIME-MD), and the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale.[20-22]. Once depressive symptoms have been identified, the clinician should eliminate other possible diagnoses besides major depression. Within a few weeks, however, most patients have adapted to the new reality, and symptoms resolve, usually as treatment is undertaken and optimism about the future begins to return.[25] This is not a major depressive episode. Physical Illness—As noted above, it is important to try to distinguish between symptoms resulting from the medical illness and neurovegetative symptoms of depression. Adjustment Disorder—When a patient has significant depressive symptoms that develop after an identifiable stressor, such as a cancer diagnosis or recurrence, but does not fully meet the criteria for a major depressive episode, a diagnosis of adjustment disorder is made.
Medical Causes of Depressive Symptoms—Many aspects of medical illnesses, including the disease itself, metabolic abnormalities, treatments, and medications for the illness, can lead to depressive symptoms. Pain—Several common medical conditions and medications can produce mild to severe depressive symptoms (Table 4).[19] The most common cause of depressed mood in cancer patients is uncontrolled pain.
Drugs Used in Cancer Treatment—Medications commonly used in cancer treatment can also cause depressive symptoms.
Although a significant number of chemotherapeutic agents are known to have potentially severe side effects, relatively few of these drugs cause depression. Often, a reduction in the dose or discontinuation of the causative medication will reduce the depressive symptoms. Dementia—When patients have difficulty with memory and concentration, it may be difficult to tell whether the symptoms are due to dementia or major depression. Neuropsychological testing may be helpful in distinguishing between dementia and the pseudodementia of depression. Bipolar Disorder—It is important to ask the patient about any personal history of manic episodes or a family history of bipolar disorder (ie, symptoms of episodic euphoria, grandiosity, increased energy and physical activity despite sleeplessness, spending sprees, or hypersexuality), as the treatments for depression and bipolar disorder differ.


Personality Disorders—The experience of cancer can often exacerbate preexisting coping abilities in patients with personality disorders. Patients with personality disorders are frequently the most difficult to manage, and nonmedical interventions are often most useful. Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Depression can change or distort the way you see yourself, your life, and those around you.
Women being treated for depression who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should not stop taking antidepressants without first talking to their provider. Chronic depression may make it harder for you to manage other illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease. Despite poor mental health not defined as an illness, having poor mental health is associated with emotional distress and psychosocial impairment comparable to that of a major depressive episode.[5] The effects of poor mental health are both severe and prevalent, with poor mental health being more common than depression. If left untreated, depression can contribute to poor treatment compliance, increased hospital stays, and mortality. However, it is never appropriate for cancer patients to suffer with significant depression.
Past studies have shown that oncologists and primary care providers have difficulty recognizing depressive symptoms in cancer patients.[14,15] Major depression is a clinical entity with specific signs, symptoms, and treatments. Major depression is usually distinguished from an adjustment disorder by the degree, duration, or amount of symptoms. Many of the neurovegetative symptoms of depression— especially loss of energy, loss of appetite, and sleep disturbance—overlap with common symptoms of cancer or other medical illnesses, and with side effects of medical treatments used in cancer patients.
Endicott suggested substituting the psychological symptoms of self-pity, brooding, crying spells, and pessimism for the neurovegetative symptoms.[17] Some clinicians highlight the importance of the cognitive symptoms of depression, such as depressed thoughts, hopelessness about appreciating any degree of quality in their lives, guilt or worthlessness, or persistent suicidal ideation.
Several predisposing factors have been correlated with the development of depression in cancer patients.
Patients who report some depressive symptoms or distress on those screening instruments could be evaluated further in an interview.
Symptoms typically associated with depression can be seen with other situations related to cancer.
Because the depression is the direct result of medical illness, psychiatrists technically call it a mood disorder secondary to a medical condition. Endocrinologic abnormalities that should be looked for include hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, hyperparathyroidism, and adrenal insufficiency.[26] Depression occurs with greater frequency and severity in patients with pancreatic cancer, although the mechanism is not fully understood.
Depressive symptoms can be seen with primary central nervous system lesions or brain metastases, particularly right-sided or frontal lesions. The glucocorticosteroids, prednisone and dexamethasone frequently cause alterations in mood, which range from euphoria to irritability to severe depression, as well as delirium and psychosis.


Patients with personality disorders, particularly borderline personality disorder, describe lifelong histories of depression and long-standing patterns of intense, conflictual relationships, self-destructive behaviors, and chronic feelings of emptiness.
This is especially true during the first few months after starting medicines for depression.
You will learn how to become more aware of your symptoms and how to spot things that make your depression worse. Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder, third edition. Recovery is not an end state; it does not mean that the individual no longer has depression, schizophrenia or another mental illness. Medical issues, as well as psychosocial stressors, can complicate the diagnosis of depression in people with cancer.
Referred to as the “neurovegetative symptoms” of depression, some of these symptoms are related to bodily functions. This section reviews common medical problems and psychiatric disorders that must be considered and ruled out before diagnosing major depressive disorder in a cancer patient.
Relief of the pain, or even acknowledgment of its existence and an attempt to relieve it, often leads to an improvement in depressive symptoms.
Neurologic problems unrelated to cancer, such as cerebral vascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease, have also been known to produce depression. Interferon-alfa (Intron A, Roferon-A) and interleukin-2 (aldesleukin [Proleukin]), which are also frequently given to cancer patients, may cause depressive symptoms, as well as cognitive deficits. Depression can sometimes have psychotic features, but hallucinations are not typically visual. The history, including the onset, time course of depressive and cognitive symptoms, course of illness, and responses to treatment, is often helpful in making this determination.[16] In patients with dementia, there is usually a history of slowly declining cognitive function, whereas in those with major depressive episode, there is usually an abrupt onset of cognitive difficulties associated with the depression. They may, however, also experience a comorbid episode of depression and require psychotropic medication. This article describes the clinical presentation of depression in cancer patients, reviews the differential diagnosis, and discusses various treatment options, including antidepressants. Just as one would not immediately diagnose pneumonia in a patient who has a cough, a patient who is crying may not necessarily have a major depressive episode.
Positive psychology and the life well-lived (Washington: American Psychological Association, 2003).



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