Depression is both a cause and result of chronic illness Most chronically ill people are depressed but it is not always possible to determine whether they become ill because they were depressed or became depressed because of their illness There are basically two types of depression -- exogenous and endogenous. Exogenous depression results from factors in the external environment, such as loss of a loved one. Endogenous depression is from factors within the person's body and may be independent of his life situation.
Some researchers have found deficiencies of the biochemicals serotonin and dopamine in depressed patients and therefore concluded that endogenous depression was a symptom of biochemical deficiency which could be corrected by drugs.
Many anti-depressant drugs, however, have serious side effects. Whether the biochemical deficiencies in depression result from the patient's attitude toward life or whether the biochemical deficiencies occur for other reasons has not yet been determined. Taking lithium regularly may be effective in many cases of depression which are a part of the manic-depressive syndrome, but this drug has caused kidney damage and blood dyscrasias. Many psychiatrists consider electro-convulsive treatments (sometimes called electric shock treatments) the most effective treatment for depression and a life-saving procedure for suicidal patients. Pathologists, however, have reported microscopic hemorrhages in the brain tissue of people who have had electro-convulsive therapy. Bone fractures from the convulsions, burns at the site of electrode applications, and permanent memory impairment, as well as deaths from apnea or cardiac arrest have cause use to decline.
Gynecologists and general practitioners have considered depression as part of the "menopausal syndrome" and until recently prescribed female hormones for women past 35 for this reason. Many women, however, have become depressed from taking female hormones for contraceptive purposes, and there is considerable evidence that taking hormones greatly increases a woman's chances of developing cancer, strokes and heart attacks.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for depression. Often a person feels much better after the first treatment, but usually 6 - 10 treatments are required for relief.