Melancholic depression is a form of major depression which has added features of melancholia, a feeling of deep sadness and hopelessness. It is characterized by all the symptoms of depression, but of a heightened level. This sub-type of major depressive disorder can affect males as well as females. It is often seen more in elderly age group.
Patient suffering from melancholic depression has constant depressed mood with loss of interest in all activities. This impacts his daily life at workplace, home and social surrounding. Most importantly, patient has frequent thoughts of suicide.
This mental illness has deep association with genetics and imbalance in brain chemicals. The symptoms of melancholic depression can be managed with psychotherapy, medication and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Causes Of Melancholic Depression
The exact cause of melancholic depression is not known but two factors are commonly found to attribute this major depressive disorder. These basically are biological causes such as imbalance of chemicals in brain and genetics. Many people suffering from melancholic depression are known to have history of this illness in their parent. Melancholia has also been found to have an association with bipolar disorder I and II.People suffering from psychotic features have an increased vulnerability to suffer from melancholic depression.
The condition is more prevalent in elderly age group, although any adult person can suffer. It is equally present in males and females. On many occasions, the physicians miss to recognize melancholia because the symptoms are thought to be those associated with dementia in old people. However, the two psychiatric illnesses can be present at the same time.
Signs And Symptoms Of Melancholic Depression
Melancholic depression is a type of major depressive disorder. There are eight prominent symptoms of melancholic depression, out of which at least four should be present in a person for diagnostic criteria.
- Loss of pleasure: A person suffering from this illness starts to have disinterest in all the activities in his life which he once used to enjoy a lot. For example he may not enjoy or have any interest of going out on a trip which he once used to enjoy a lot. Feels worthless and hopeless all the time.
- Lack of reaction to a pleasant event: A person does not react to a pleasant situation. If at all there is improvement in her mood, it is temporary which reverses back to depression.
- Lack of energy: Patient has lack of energy and feels fatigued all the time. Even minor work may seem to be laborious as there is lack of interest together with fatigue.
- Obvious depressed mood: A person has depressed mood that is too obvious to be recognized than the mood when he is not depressed or when he is sad.
- Marked depression in early morning: People with melancholic depression are too extremely depressed in early morning as compared to rest of the day.
- Awakes early than before: Person awakes early at least two to three hours before his routine usual awakening time.
- Loss of weight: Person with melancholia experience too much weight loss because of loss of appetite.
- Suicidal thoughts: Person repeated thinks of suicide. Due to the thought he may attempt to do so in reality. There is marked guilty feeling.
How To Overcome Melancholic Depression?
Melancholic depression can be treated effectively with medication, psychotherapy (talk therapy) and in worst cases with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The treatment may vary from one person to another depending on the severity of symptoms; however, most in many cases psychotherapy alone is not effective. This is because melancholic depression is a form of major depression. Most of the time patient is prescribed anti depressant medicines. This medication has ability to balance the chemicals in brain. A combination of two therapies is found to be more effective than only relying on one.
In some cases where the treatment with medicines and psychotherapy is not effective, a psychiatrist may opt for ECT or the shock therapy as it is popularly known.
Homeopathic medicines such as Aurum met and Natrum sulf are important when patient has suicidal thoughts with severe loathing in life.