What is Depression?
Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
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You think you may have depression, but what can you do about it? CogniFit's Neurocognitive stimulation program may be a useful complementary tool to help you overcome depression. This scientifically validated program is becoming more prevalent within the scientific community.
The brain stimulation program from CogniFit for combating depression is a non-pharmacological treatment that helps minimize the symptoms of depression. For someone with depression, constantly being sad can eventually cause some cognitive deficits in the brain. The most common cognitive deficits that cause the most problems are related to memory, concentration, and attention.
One of the most recent studies has proven that there are neurocognitive alterations between depressive and control patients. The main differences are in working memory, inhibition, divided attention, and executive functions. The CogniFit program was applied to both the depressive and control groups for eight weeks. After this period, the efficacy of the personalized CogniFit training program was verified. Depressive symptoms in the corresponding group had decreased, showing that this training not only improved cognitive functions, but also improved executive control, allowing for the patient to create better strategies to be able to face their depressive symptoms (reflection and perseverance).
More and more professionals are recommending training with our brain stimulation program because by improving different cognitive abilities, you may help reverse the symptoms of depression.
The clinical exercises that CogniFit uses were designed by a team of neurologists and psychologists who have investigated the symptoms that accompany depression. They applied new discoveries about brain structure and created many simple tasks aimed to improve and boost brain plasticity, and reduce the symptoms of depression. Training only takes about 20 minutes a day, 2 -3 times a week.
Depression may turn into more serious or chronic physical illnesses if it is not properly treated. The brain stimulation program from CogniFit acts as a perfect complement to a psychological treatment, helping improve the most deficient brain areas.
What is Depression?
Depression is a fairly common mood disorder.In some situations, depression and its symptoms may become chronic or recurring, impeding the successful development of a person's life, whether it be at work, at home, or in social environments.
The development and continuity of depression is produced by a combination of stress and persistent negative thoughts and feelings. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the most highly recommended treatment is psychotherapy.
The best depression prevention is maintaining a balance in your daily routine. Sleeping poorly, using technology, work and familial responsibilities, sitting in traffic, and many other stimuli make expressing oneself and dealing with this stress essential. If they are not able to properly manage this everyday stress, it may turn into depression.
CogniFit works directly with the problems that depression may cause, specifically the cognitive aspects that may be deteriorated by depression like memory, concentration, and attention. CogniFit helps reinforce the neuronal connection networks used in cognitive abilities, and acts as a perfect complement to cognitive behavioral therapy.
Causes of Depression
What are some causes of depression? There isn't just one cause of depression, but various factors. The predisposition to suffer from a mood disorder is different in everyone, which means that the same traumatic event may affect two people differently.
One of the biggest risk factors of depression is genetic or hereditary, in which case the predisposition would be biological. This doesn't mean, however, that someone with depressive family members will have depression, as additional factors play a large role in this mood disorder (environmental, psychosocial…).
Stress and depression almost always go hand-in-hand. A stressful situation, from moving to the death of a loved one, causes physical reactions and changes in our body, like shortness of breath, increased heart rate, etc. Over a prolonged period of time, these changes may lead to a depressive state.
Biochemical and personality factors are two very important causes in the development of depression. A breakdown in the chemical substances in the brain, called neurotransmitters, cause an instability in a person's emotional state. Personality is a determining factor in the development of this disorder. Low self-esteem, negative thoughts, and tendencies to worry will interfere with one's ability to face situations in their life. From a very young age, we make thought patterns which can be either negative or positive. The key is based on upbringing and how someone has learned to handle frustration throughout their life.
Symptoms of Depression
Have you ever asked yourself if you have depression? If you have, how can you tell if you have it? These questions are related to mood. You probably never asked yourself if you had depression when you were doing well and excelling personally, because you were in a good mood and it reflects both psychically and mentally. However, the first reactions we have when we start to think about depression are physical reactions. These sensations are: less energy to do daily tasks, loss of sex drive, feeling restless and nervous, waking up at night or sleeping too much, sore throat, increased heart rate, and many, many more.
We all feel sad, unhappy, dejected, or even miserable sometimes. Major depressive disorder is an intensification of these symptoms that can last weeks or more. It is accompanied by a profound sense of loss, frustration, and anger.
According to Pubmed Health , symptoms of major depression can include some or all of the following: "agitation, restlessness, and irritability; dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss; significant concentration problems; fatigue and lack of energy; feelings of hopelessness and helplessness; feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt; the tendency to become withdrawn or isolated; loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed; thoughts of death or suicide and trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping".
Depression and the Brain
The brain is an organ that can be affected by emotions. When we are sad, dejected, or upset, our brain acts differently, and makes it very susceptible to the emotional changes that we are feeling. When we suffer from depressive states, our brain activates about seventy different cerebral regions (prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, temporal lobes, hippocampus…).
During a stable emotional state, our brain can use up to 20% of energy, but when we are sad, it uses much more. Depression is caused by a neurotransmission error, where neurotransmitters, like dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin decrease their dosage in the brain. Tryptophan an amino acid that regulates serotonin, becomes incapacitated. Beacuse of this, we occasionally need foods that are rich in glucose to increase serotonin levels and improve our mood.
Changes in brain structure have always been associated with depression. During a longitudinal study over the span of three years, we saw that, in comparison with the control subjects, the patients with depression showed a reduction in the gray material in the hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex, left amygdala, and the right dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. Patients who remitted during the 3-year period had less volume decline than non-remitted patients in the left hippocampus, left anterior cingulum, left dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and bilaterally in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
The deterioration of the brain structure is accompanied by a decrease in cognitive function. In these cases, there is usually a cognitive slowing like the reduced abilities of flexibility, vigilance, and maintained and divided attention. It also appears that the types of depression and cognitive impairment are closely related to psychosocial functioning. Individual neurocognitive profiles differ in character and degree of cognitive deficit. Executive functions, such as verbal learning and memory, are better preserved than attention.
Types of Depression
There are many types and classifications of depression, but according to the Diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, DSM-5, there are a few more common types: major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder.
- Major depression is a severe type of depression that presents itself with many symptoms that impede the daily activities of the person who suffers. Depressive episodes last at least two weeks. In some cases, a person may only have one episode in their life, while others may have multiple.
- Dysthymia or chronic depression has all of the symptoms of major depression, but is less intense. This type of depression does not limit the daily activities of the person, and it may last for a longer period of time.
- Bipolar depression (Bipolar disorder) is a disorder characterized by manic and depressive states, or extreme emotional ups and downs. These extremes cause mood swings and a change in our mood mechanism.
The most severe symptoms of depression make it necessary for the person to seek psychotherapy. In addition, looking at the neurocognitive and neurophysiological deterioration that comes with depression, and the changes in daily and psychosocial functions, both of which are related to cognitive functions, it is advisable to seek methods to preserve said cognitive function.
The results from a recent study of cognitive training done in the Psychiatric Center of Prague in the Czech Republic, suggests for the first time that cognitive training may reduce depression and improve cognitive abilities in people with various types of depression.
In this study, the results of a group of patients with unipolar or bipolar depression, who trained three times a week for 8 weeks with CogniFit, a scientifically validated cognitive training program, were compared to the group of control patients who received standard care, but no cognitive training. The results indicate a clear reduction in the depression and anxiety levels in the group that trained with CogniFit, but not in the control group. The CogniFit group showed fewer mistakes in executive control (reasoning and planning), and less memory lapses in daily activities.
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