What is Depression?

Many people tend to ignore depression, thinking it’s the same as the ordinary blues. They think that, like the blues, their depression will lift on its own. But clinical depression isn’t the same as just feeling a bit down, and it seldom improves without treatment. Patrick A. Oliver, M.D. and the staff of physicians at MindPeace Clinics work with our patients to help them overcome their symptoms of depression.

What symptoms will I experience if I am depressed?

When you have depression, you often feel sad and lose interest in the daily activities you usually enjoy, which is referred to as anhedonia. You may also experience other symptoms, including:

  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Excessive sleepiness or insomnia
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

For those who have clinical depression, the symptoms last for at least two weeks or more.

What are the different types of depression?

There are several different types of depression that we commonly see at MindPeace Clinics. They are:

Major Depressive Disorder: Individuals who suffer from Major Depressive Disorder lose interest in the activities they once enjoyed. The DSM 5 criteria for diagnosis is experiences of 5 or more of the following symptoms over a 2+ week period: depressed mood, diminished interest in activities, significant weight loss or gain, slowing down of thought and reduction of physical movement, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, diminished ability to concentrate, and recurrent suicidal ideation. The symptoms of depression may also be more severe than what a person with mild symptoms experiences. It is also common for this type to exist along with other forms of the condition.

Persistent Depressive Disorder: An individual with persistent depressive disorder will have symptoms most days for two years or more. People with this type of depression tend to need to explore every treatment possible to find one that works.

Postpartum Depression: Women who have recently had a baby can develop this type of depression. It usually develops within the first few weeks after giving birth, but it can arise at any point during the first year. Symptoms might include insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability, and difficulty bonding with the baby. Untreated, the condition may last months or longer.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Individuals can develop prolonged periods of low energy and a sad mood during certain times of the year. An individual must demonstrate at least two depressive episodes in the previous two years, and seasonal episodes, typically during the fall and winter months, should substantially outnumber nonseasonal episodes. Individuals will sometimes exhibit atypical symptoms, like excessive sleeping or eating or cravings.

Bipolar Disorder: There are two types of bipolar disorders, Type I and Type II. With both types of Bipolar disorder, individuals swing from having depressive symptoms to experiencing periods of mania. These cycles of mood swings can happen every few weeks, or multiple times a day; the latter is referred to as “rapid cycling.”

How is depression treated?

There are several types of treatment that are available for depressive disorders, but most take a long period of time to work. Not all treatments are effective for all patients, and it is not uncommon for a person to try several strategies before they find one that helps. The first and most common treatment type is medication. Unfortunately, 10-30% of patients don’t improve even after two courses of antidepressants, a condition known as treatment-resistant depression. Other treatment types include psychotherapy, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Ketamine Therapy. Ketamine Infusion Therapy for depression has been researched for more than 20 years, and it has been shown to work faster than other types while also reducing the most severe symptoms such as suicidal thinking.

What if depression goes untreated?

It is important to seek help at the first signs of depression, as early treatment makes it easier to find relief from the symptoms. Paying attention to changes in behavior is important, and ignoring the early signs of depression can make the depression more difficult to treat as the symptoms worsen. Ignoring the signs typically results in negative impacts upon a person’s life. As individuals push people away, some people do not understand. It is common for someone with untreated depression to end up with a divorce or other damaged relationships that can only be mended after they seek help.

Untreated depressive disorders can also be accompanied by addiction. Individuals may begin to self-medicate, or attempt to ease their symptoms with drugs or alcohol. This can become a vicious cycle since the side effects of drugs and alcohol can make the symptoms of depression worse. The good news is that seeking help for a depressive disorder can help people begin to end the damage that their condition is causing to their life.

What happens during ketamine therapy for depression?

If you struggle with depression and you’re interested in ketamine therapy, the first step is scheduling an initial consultation with Dr. Oliver or one of our attending physicians. They will review your medical history, perform an exam, and begin to monitor your mood using a program called Mood Monitor. Once the physicians have reviewed your lab work, our team will schedule you for your initial series of infusions.

The physicians administer ketamine using an intravenous (IV) infusion. During your infusion, which takes 40 minutes, the medical team monitors your heart rate and blood pressure, while you simply relax in a comfortable reclining chair.

You’ll receive a series of six infusions, getting an infusion every other day over the course of two to three weeks. Though ketamine may produce fast symptom relief, a series of treatments leads to long-lasting results.

Once depression takes hold, your energy often takes a dive, and simply getting out of bed can seem impossible. If your depression doesn’t improve with counseling and antidepressants, you still have hope with ketamine infusion therapy. 

For more information on how ketamine may help you, contact MindPeace Clinics in Richmond, VAArlington, VA and Northern VirginiaWashington, D.C.Norfolk, VA and Virginia Beach, VA, and San Francisco, CA