Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days (NHS, 2016).
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week (Mind, 2017).
Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. They range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety (NHS, 2016).
The symptoms of depression range from mild to severe. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living (NHS, 2016).
The 10 most common symptoms are:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities. You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
- Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning or oversleeping.
- Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
- Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticise yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving or dangerous sports.
- Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions or remembering things.
- Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain. (Help Guide, 2019)
Psychological treatments (talking therapies) are used to treat all types of depression. For mild depression, they might be the only treatment needed. Treatment is provided by trained therapists (e.g. psychiatrists, psychologists, or GPs) (Your Health in Mind, 2017).
Several different psychological treatments work for depression. These include:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy
- Problem-Solving Therapy
- Short-term Psychodynamic Therapy
CBT and interpersonal therapy work just as well as medication for people with mild-to-moderate depression. Some psychological treatments, such as CBT and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, can also stop depression coming back after you have recovered (Your Health in Mind, 2017).
Antidepressant medications can reduce symptoms of depression, such as feelings of sadness, thoughts of suicide, tiredness, poor appetite and sleep problems.
However, sometimes the antidepressants can cause possible side effects, including:
- Weight gain
- Sexual problems (e.g. taking longer to reach orgasm)
- Sleepiness or tiredness
- Sleep problems
- Dry mouth
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Problems with the heart and blood pressure
- Sometimes young people have suicidal thoughts while they’re taking antidepressant medication. Children, teenagers and young adults need to be checked during the first few weeks of treatment to make sure they are safe (Your Health in Mind, 2017).
Transcranial Photobiomodulation (t-PBM) with near-infrared radiation (NIR) has emerged as a potential antidepressant treatment. PBM consists of delivering NIR—or red light—to the scalp of the patient, which penetrates the skull and modulates the function of the adjacent cortical areas of the brain. PBM with red light and/or NIR appears to increase brain metabolism (by activating the cytochrome C oxidase in the mitochondria), to increase neuroplasticity, and to modulate endogenous opioids, while decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress. PBM penetrates deeply into the cerebral cortex, modulates cortical excitability and improves cerebral perfusion and oxygenation. Studies have suggested that it can significantly improve cognition in healthy subjects and in subjects with traumatic brain injury (TBI) (Mary Ann Liebert, 2018).
t-PBM with NIR could be a novel intervention for patients suffering from MDD (Major Depressive Disorder), who have demonstrated intolerance or refractoriness to antidepressants or prefer nonpharmacological approaches. If t-PBM were to be confirmed as an effective and safe treatment for MDD, it would be well suited for adoption among the expanding range of therapeutic options for MDD (Mary Ann Liebert, 2018).
(TILS) is a novel form of brain Photobiomodulation. Controlled human studies show that TILS involves up-regulation of cytochrome c oxidase (CCO), the terminal enzyme in mitochondrial respiration, resulting in improved cerebral oxygenation and cognitive and emotional benefits (Biological Psychiatry Journal, 2017).
Compared with placebo, significant increases in cerebral concentrations of oxidised CCO, oxygenated hemoglobin, total hemoglobin and differential hemoglobin were all observed during and after TILS in the prefrontal cortex. Cognitive performance after TILS was significantly enhanced compared to placebo in all prefrontal-based measures, including improved reaction time during sustained attention, memory retrieval latency and the number of correct responses, executive improvement with fewer errors, better set-shifting ability and rule-based learning. TILS to the forehead also led to significantly greater symptom improvement among depressed participants whose attention was directed away from negative stimuli (Biological Psychiatry Journal, 2017).
Depression is a common mental disorder characterised by depressed mood, slow thought, diminished activity, cognitive decline and somatic symptoms. Recently, Xu et al. investigated that LLLT (Low Laser Light Therapy) effectively decreased depression-like behaviors; it also increased ATP biosynthesis and the level of mitochondrial complex IV expression and activity. Further, LLLT could enhance outcomes for treatment of depression in clinical studies. Collectively, this data suggests that transcranial LLLT has a beneficial role in depressive–related behaviors (Research Gate, 2018).
Therefore, the therapeutic mechanism of LLLT on depression may be associated with an increase of ATP-production caused by low-level laser irradiation (LLLI). As a noninvasive treatment, accumulating evidence has shown that transcranial LLLT is a beneficial treatment for depression. In addition, transcranial LLLT has been carried out on depression and chronic TBI patients in preclinical trials. LLLT might be related to factors such as mitochondrial oxidative respiratory chain and neurogenesis, neuroplasticity, and monoamine neurotransmitters. However, the main mechanism of LLLT is closely related to the function of mitochondria in pathophysiological conditions. Mitochondria might be the most important organelle within cells governing the LLLT responses (Research Gate, 2018).
In conclusion, transcranial LLLT will shed new light on the treatment of psychological and neurological disorders.
We are pleased to have PBM here at Omnia Lifestyle in Guildford. If it sounds like something you could benefit from please visit us at 54 Chertsey Street, GU1 4HD. We are situated next to Guildford Spice and near the top of the road,you should be able to see the pub, The Guildford Tup. Click the link here to find us on Google Maps. https://bit.ly/2YZhfoJ
NHS (2016) Clinical Depression. [Online] (Last updated 5 October 2016) Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/clinical-depression/ [Accessed 2 May 2019]
Mind (2017) Mental Health facts and statistics. [Online] (Last updated April 2017) Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.XMrDIehKiUk [Accessed 2 May 2019]
Help Guide (2019) Depression symptoms and warning signs. [Online] (Last updated 20 March 2019) Available at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-symptoms-and-warning-signs.htm/ [Accessed 2 May 2019]
Your Health in Mind (2017) Treatment of Depression. [Online] (Last updated April 2017) Available at: https://www.yourhealthinmind.org/mental-illnesses-disorders/depression/treatment [Accessed 2 May 2019]
Mary Ann Liebert (2018) Transcranial Photobiomodulation for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. The ELATED-2 Pilot Trial. [Online] (Last updated 10 December 2018) Available at: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/pho.2018.4490 [Accessed 2 May 2019]
Biological Psychiatry Journal (2017) Transcranial Photobiomodulation in Major Depressive Disorder. [Online] (Last updated 15 May 2017) Available at: https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(17)30520-6/abstract [Accessed 2 May 2019]
Research Gate (2018) Transcranial Low-Level Laser Therapy for Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease. [Online] (Last updated 18 August 2018) Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326584429_Transcranial_Low-Level_Laser_Therapy_for_Depression_and_Alzheimer’s_Disease [Accessed 2 May 2019]
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