Over the last few months, I have been able to meet many different people and learn more about each one and how depression symptoms affect their lives. Some of you may know the symptoms all too well, while others may be learning what Major Depressive Disorder is…so what exactly is it?
Depression is the “common cold” of mental disorders — most people will be affected by depression at some point in their lives either directly or indirectly through a friend or family member. Confusion about depression is common in trying to understand what differentiates it from “just feeling down”.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) incorporates a tenacious miserable, restless, or empty inclination, and sentiments of misery or negativity that persist for a considerable length of time. Some report discouragement, a sense of blame, uselessness, and weakness as they no longer find enjoyment, intrigue or pleasure in activities that were once appreciated. Craving/purging and weight reduction or gorging and weight gain may be side effects. Others report diminished vitality, weariness, and a consistent sense of being “slowed down.” Thoughts of death or suicide are normal in those tormented from serious depression. They may also have difficulty thinking or recollecting clearly. Also, tireless physical manifestations that don’t respond to conventional medications — migraines, stomach related disorders, and endless pain.
All of these issues are scary, especially for the loved ones watching from the outside. The patients I have seen, have had amazing results in lifting these symptoms. One patient, we will call Patient X, started out hopeless, thinking that the TMS treatment was a “ last resort.” Patient X spent days at a time in bed, finding no enjoyment with family. At the start of treatment Patient X would barely speak with me, just coming in for treatment and leaving. Over the course of the 6-week treatment, they started opening up. At first, it was little things such as a slight smile when walking in the door, head held a little higher, and a small “twinkle” in their eye. By the 9th treatment, I was told by the patient, they had noticed not having to “convince” themselves to get things done. About halfway through treatment, Patient X was talking more and more, and about things other than treatment. I was getting to know the person behind they symptoms. And the best part was that their family was noticing a difference as they were able to spend time together doing simple things like sitting in the yard and watching the kids play. Towards the end of treatment Patient X started coming alone and even spending time alone doing simple things like going out to lunch. Every year, the family would take a small trip to Disneyland. Upon returning from this trip Patient X stated, “I was able to go to Disneyland with my family this week and for the first time I was able to enjoy it and not cry.” At the two month follow up, a family member came in as well. They stated “X is normal now, and we have seen a big change in having a more normal life and their joking attitude is coming back.”
Seeing the smiles on the faces or patients like X and their family members is what gives me joy. I truly believe this treatment could help the majority of those seeking relief from relentless epression.