UNDERSTANDING MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER (MDD)
Image credit: Dr Serena-lynn Brown from psychiatric associates
Quick check: Major depressive disorder symptoms/signs
WHAT IS A MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER?
A major depressive disorder also known as clinical disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities causing significant impairment in daily life.
Causalities of major depressive disorder:
- 60% cases are caused by specific environmental factors such as life events and childhood trauma(Injuries in general)
- 37% cases Affected by Heritability
Altered Neuronal and structural plasticity:
- Excessive Cortisol Release(stress hormones)
- Non-responsive to Antidepressants Medication
- Brain Atrophy and Decreased Volume
Brain atrophy: a reduction in functionality of brain caused by disease, injury or lack of use
For major depressive disorder, brain atrophy is a reduction in functionality of the brain caused by “depressive disorder” which is attributed to or caused by either INJURIES (stressful life events) or DISEASE (DNA makeup) or even both in some cases.
INJURY: they include stressful life events such as loss of loved ones, divorce, illness, redundancy and job or money worries etc. Different injuries can combine to trigger depression
DISEASE: family trait( transfer of gene) as seen in the DNA makeup
A British research team isolated a gene that appears to be prevalent in multiple family members with depression. The chromosome 3p25-26 was found in more than 800 families with recurrent depression.
Scientists believe that as many as 40 percent of those with depression can trace it to a genetic link. Environmental and other factors may make up the other 60 percent.
This is the core work of antidepressants when prescribed for treatment. reducing the full effect of the diseased or abnormal DNA whenever it’s triggered. Antidepressants do carry out this function by inhibiting the reuptake of neurotransmitters (neurotransmitters: hormones that carry chemical signals (messages) from one neuron (nerve cell) to the next target cell).
A recorded success or failure in the transfer of these chemical signals within the cells in turn results in either good or bad feelings and emotions.
For major depressive depression, Antidepressants inhibit the reuptake of serotonin(feel good hormones) into the nerve cells which is often in lack or shortage in people with family traits of depression.
Usually, after carrying a message, serotonin reabsorbs into the nerve cell and is readily produced again in the endocrine glands once the need arises.
Unlike people without disorder, People with major depressive disorder experience inadequate serotonin production which then causes a series of abnormal body functionality. because it’s a DNA related disorder, it’s quite transferable to offspring.
MAJOR CAUSES OF SHORTAGE OR INADEQUATE SEROTONIN PRODUCTION THAT RESULTS TO MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
- Damaged or abnormal 5-HT receptors
- Hormonal shift/imbalance
Damaged or abnormal 5-HT receptors: Receptors are biological transducers that convert energy from both external and internal environments into electrical impulses. 5-HT (5-hydroxytryptamine receptors, or simply serotonin receptors) when damaged due to physical injuries or otherwise will result in unresponsiveness to the serotonin stimuli thereby resulting in dysfunctionality of the body system.
While this case is a bit rare, people that suffer from major depressive disorder due to damaged 5-HT receptors may not be able to respond properly to Antidepressants Medication. Hence, the best remedy in this scenario is therapy (allowing the brain the time and opportunity to begin the healing process, adequate nutrition etc).
Hormonal shift/imbalance(no production, excessive or reduced production of Hormones by the endocrine glands): Hormones are chemicals produced by glands in the endocrine system and released into the bloodstream/cells for different functions.
Serotonin is among the hormones classified as neurotransmitters since they are hormones that aid neurotransmission. An imbalance or shift in the production of these hormones is one of the reasons for its shortage or excessiveness in the nerve cells.
As seen in the DNA of people with major depressive disorder, Serotonin hormonal shift (no or reduced production) causes depressive disorder and how often it occurs in an individual determines how often one experiences disorder. However, the “state/condition” of the endocrine glands determine the level of serotonin hormonal secretion and thus, a major cause of inadequate secretion of serotonin seen in people with serotonin hormonal shift/imbalance DNA makeup as inherited from the gene of parents.
And as such, People with a DNA makeup of Serotonin hormonal shift/imbalance can transfer disease/disorder to offsprings thereby causing a long family trait of major depressive disorder.
What brings about hormonal shift/imbalance?
While hormonal shift/imbalance results from a faulty DNA makeup, environmental factors such as food, drugs, or exposure to toxins and serious stressful life events can cause epigenetic changes by altering the way molecules bind to DNA or changing the structure of proteins that DNA wraps around.
However, one can say that DNA response to prolonged experience of environmental factors such as INJURY: loss of loved ones, divorce, illness, redundancy and job or money worries brought about alteration in DNA makeup which in turn results in hormonal shift/imbalance. For depression this time, serotonin hormonal shift/imbalance
Hence, by inhibiting the usual and supposed reuptake(reabsorption) of serotonin hormones, antidepressants makes much available serotonin for transferring of messages to body cells for proper functioning as opposed by “no or decreased” serotonin hormonal production in people whose DNA is been diseased with disorder.
While antidepressants tend to produce temporary relief from disorder by hindering or inhibiting the reuptake of neurotransmitters, it is accompanied by many side effects even though they fail to tackle root causes of disorder nor attempt to cure them.
Which Antidepressants have worked for you perfectly? What are the side effects you experience?