Depression is a common illness that causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or loss. When depression is severe and lasts longer than 2 weeks, it is referred to as major depression. While everyone feels sad or low from time to time, a person suffering from major depression experiences symptoms that linger for weeks and months and interferes with their daily life. It's estimated that about 16 percent of the population will experience clinically significant bouts of depression at some point in their lifetime. Many cases of depression can be traced to specific life events and are successfully treated through a combination of medication and counseling.
What Causes Depression?
Although it's the subject of much research, the medical cause of depression remains uncertain. Researchers believe a number of factors contribute to a person suffering from depression. These include:
- Life stressors (loss of a loved one, unemployment and job stress, difficulty with school)
- Biological differences in the brain
- Neurotransmitters and hormonal effects
- Inheritance (genetics)
- Early childhood trauma or loss
There isn't a single lab or imaging test that identifies someone as suffering from depression. Brain scans have shown changes that occur in a depressed person's brain, but they are not used as a diagnostic tool. The diagnosis is based primarily on patients' descriptions of their symptoms. Sometimes depression is so readily apparent that the diagnosis is relatively straightforward and unambiguous. However, in many cases people complain about general feelings of sadness or fatigue for no specific reason, yet may have clinically-significant depression and need treatment. Diagnosing depression in adolescents or children can also be difficult. The diagnosis can best be made by a trained professional, whether a physician or a counselor.
Treating moderate or more severe levels of depression traditionally has focused on medications combined with psychological counseling. Patients often do not respond to the first antidepressant, and may require a different type of medication or combination of antidepressant medications to improve their symptoms. If standard treatments fail to effectively manage depression, patients may turn to less common treatments. Those treatments include:
Used for decades, ECT is a treatment that's usually reserved for cases of major depression in which depression threatens the patient's life (e.g. suicidal impulses) or when all other treatments have been exhausted.
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)
VNS is an invasive surgical procedure that requires implanting a stop watch-sized device in the chest wall. Lead wires connected to the device are threaded under the skin and attached with electrodes to the vagal nerve in the neck.
This can be in a traditional hospital, a residential care facility, or a "day hospital" program.
The Monarch eTNS System for Depression
The Monarch external Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (eTNS) system is safe and convenient, offering users a non-invasive treatment that improves depressive symptoms. The stimulator is small enough for a pocket, to wear on the waist, or set on a nightstand.
The Monarch external Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (eTNS) is now approved for use in the European Union and Canada. It is a non-invasive alternative to ECT, VNS, and other treatments for depression. If you would like more information for yourself or a loved one, please contact us online and a Monarch representative will be in touch with you. You can also to get answers now.