Most likely, you have come across the term DEPRESSION. Amongst medical students, it is a term so commonly discussed with a view to helping victims get out of it before the inevitable act. But oftentimes, research studies have shown many people feel/think they cannot be depressed nor do they exhibit any symptoms of depression while in actual reality, they are constantly suffering from only a mild form of depression that often not doesn’t present any noticeable clinical symptoms or strange behavioural deviations. In fact, its’ victims often go on to live a normal life –going about their daily business, studying, hanging out with friends and all. How possible is that? Neurotic Depression might just be the culpable culprit.
What is neurotic depression?
Also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) or Dysthymia, Neurotic Depression is a mild but continuous long-term form of depression that causes one to lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem or perception of one’s self-worth and an overall feeling of acute inadequacy. Surprisingly, these feelings often last for years –on the average two, and may significantly interfere with anyone’s relationships, school, work and daily activities. Like other forms of depression, dysthymia also affects young people with chronic and long-lasting feelings of sadness or worthlessness, and an inability to take pleasure and perform well in the activities of daily life. With PDD in particular, the symptoms of depression may go unnoticed for some time, as they are less acute but longer lasting than in other forms of depression. Someone suffering from PDD may find it hard to be upbeat even on happy occasions — often described as having a gloomy personality, constantly complaining or incapable of having fun. Though the persistent depressive disorder is not as severe as major depression, the current depressed mood or disposition may be mild, moderate or severe.
The exact pathological cause of PDD is not known however it has been proposed that certain factors might predispose an individual to the development of the condition. These factors include:
- A chemical imbalance in the brain
- A family history of the condition
- A history of other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder
- Stressful or traumatic life events, such as the loss of a loved one or financial problems
- Chronic physical illness, such as heart disease or diabetes
- Physical brain trauma, such as a concussion.
As such, diagnosing PDD can only be confirmed by a professional mental health worker after some laboratory tests to rule out other likely conditions such as an underperforming thyroid gland etc. PDD is however likely to be confirmed in individuals who have experienced constant low moods and emotional imbalance for at least two years with other two symptoms of depression.
What next after now?
Because of the chronic nature of persistent depressive disorder, coping with its symptoms can be challenging, but a combination of talk therapy (psychotherapy) and a relatively safe regiment of medications go a long way in mitigating its effects on daily activities. However, some factors demand consideration before starting any course of treatments such as;
- The severity of your symptoms
- Your desire to address emotional or situational issues affecting your life
- Your personal preferences
- Previous treatment methods
- Your ability to tolerate medications
- Other emotional problems you may have
Psychotherapy may be the first recommendation for children and adolescents with persistent depressive disorder, although that depends on the individual. In some severe cases, antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs), Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) may be used.
Managing PDD and Medical school
A confirmed diagnosis of PDD calls for a deliberate and effective management routine to cope with the workload and pressure in medical school. Due to the ever-piling materials, huge textbooks to read, practical sessions to attend and the required volume of detailed information to recall, these may further aggravate the symptoms in victims and may as well lead to major depression. Talk therapy – psychotherapy, is a very effective management routine that can be adopted by a medical student who is a victim. Having a supportive friend or friends and connecting with fellow colleagues can help reduce the constant feelings of inadequacy as they interact and share personal experiences of their failures and shortcomings.