We tend to think of depression as something most people go through at some point in their lives after they become too overwhelmed or too many bad things happen to them. In fact, that is not how true depression--Major Depressive Disorder--plays out. MDD is an inherited, genetic disease. It is chronic, recurring many times throughout a person's life, and progressing if it is not treated. It is debilitating, preventing people from functioning in a normal life, and as a result it is one of the most expensive chronic conditions because of the cost of disability payments.
With closely managed care, MDD can be treated and a person can return to a normal life. Often this is done through a combination of medication and therapy, and sometimes even electroconvulsive therapy. The problem often occurs when a person is feeling better, and chooses to stop talking medication or stop seeking help. Patients almost always regress into a depressed state and have to restart the process. Like insulin for diabetes, proper medications are important for people with MDD.
Major Depressive Disorder is a true chronic disease, and like all chronic diseases, the sooner it is caught, treated, and managed, the better it can be controlled, allowing a person to live a long, happy, active life among family and friends.
For this episode, Dr. Scott Arbaugh, clinical psychiatrist, joins the Pulse to discuss MDD, how it is diagnosed, treated, what happens when people do not treat it properly, and how it affects seniors at a disproportionately high rate.