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Depression In Toronto: Awareness and Treatment

Monique Zizzo
Mental health is an issue that affects a large portion of Toronto's population. In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health problem, and 20% of Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. There are many misconceptions about mental illness and important facts and treatment options that most people are not aware of.

depression While depression is often lumped into one broad category, there are many different types that one can experience, and knowing which type of depression you have is significant when it comes to deciding on a treatment option. Major depression is the most common and harmful form because it is usually reoccurring and can cause issues from physical pain to thoughts of suicide. It is recommended that people with major depression get treated with both counselling and medication since it is severe, but in cases where one's depression is not as severe as major depression, medication may not be necessary. Here are 5 other common forms of depression and the best treatment options for each:
  • Dysthmyia causes a low mood over a long period of time, but is not as debilitating as major depression. Usually people with dysthmyia can function adequately, but not optimally, and it could turn into major depression if ignored. The usual recommended option is counselling and no medication.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression where people experience increased anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and weight gain only from winter until spring. Artificial light therapy, where patients are exposed to a low-dose artificial light for about half an hour each day, or going on a one-hour walk outside each day could alleviate symptoms, as this type of depression is due to people who are sensitive to the decrease in natural sunlight that occurs in the winter.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: While most women experience PMS during the second half of their menstrual cycles, PMDD is a different occurrence that is much more severe. PMS is relatively normal and does not have a substantial effect besides occasional moodiness, but PMDD inhibits a woman's ability to function normally when symptoms are active - essentially major depression that is only experienced once a month for a certain period of time. A combination of depression drugs is an option for treatment, and a more natural way to go includes changes in nutrition and eating habits, and counselling as needed.
  • Situational Depression is triggered by a stressful event like the death of someone close to you, being fired from a job, or a bad breakup. It is not to be confused with major depression; it usually does not require treatment and will most likely pass over time, but should be monitored in case it turns into something more severe.
  • Postpartum depression is experienced by a new mother shortly after their child is born. It is difficult for professionals to recommend a general treatment option because it could range from mild and temporary to severe and long-lasting. Whether or not medication should be used depends on the perceived level of sadness.
depressive man When it comes to major depression, heavy counselling and medication are the standard steps toward recovery. The most prescribed medications are SSRIs which are believed to increase serotonin levels in the brain. Most patients see improvement, but like any medication, it has its downsides: up to 40% of people with major depression do not respond to antidepressants, and in some cases antidepressants can cause or increase suicidal thoughts.

A unique and interesting treatment option that has proved to be effective in recent research is TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). In this process, a magnetic field passes through the skull and interacts with the brain. When the magnetic field is positioned correctly, it can cause an electrical flow to stimulate areas of the brain that are underactive for people with depression and help alleviate symptoms.

To receive TMS treatment, a physician must fill out a referral form to request an initial assessment. There is a TMS clinic in Toronto Western Hospital. To find out more about the TMS clinic and get a referral form, visit this link.

Depression Meet-Up is a more social approach where people with depression who have similar interests form different groups and meet at a designated time and place. You can search for a Meet Up group that suits your needs and interests and discover groups in Toronto here.

In conclusion, depression is a serious illness that comes in more forms than one, and has different options for treatment that work better for some than others. Being aware of this information could help you or a loved one improve symptoms and quality of life.
Monique Zizzo January 27, 2016

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