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Mental disorders
Depression and Manic Depression
Anxiety Disorders
Alzheimer’s-type Dementia

Help Lien : La depression Lien : DEPRESSION is not a moral weakness (interview with 2 researchers in the field) Lien : La depression
Lien : LA DÉPRESSION Lien : Major Depressive Disorder Lien : Vidéo : Maladies mentales et les depressions (Les) Link : Science - Atteindre la paix cérébrale des carmélites. Une nouvelle neuro-psychothérapie pour soigner la dépression

Especially painful events, such as the loss of a loved one through death or divorce, can naturally make someone feel disheartened and sad. The individual withdraws from the outside world until he or she can recover an inner sense of the missing loved one's presence, then re-emerge and begin interacting with other people again.

This normal depressive state is generally only transitory. It often helps the person to recover, as well as to discover better ways of approaching the future. Postpartum depression and the let-down feelings that some people experience at the end of a creative effort are examples of this kind of depression.

It is important to recognize that mood disorders such as depression fall on a continuum. There is also a consensus that normal depressive episodes, dysthymia (see next sidebar), and major depression are all examples of increasingly intense levels of the same disorder.

In addition to major depression, which consists of one or more major depressive episodes that contrast with a person's normal way of functioning, mental health professionals distinguish another, less severe form of depression known as dysthymia, or dysthymic disorder.

Dysthymia is characterized by depressive symptoms that are less incapacitating than those of major depression but are chronic (experienced almost every day) and do persist for several years (at least two). It is also common for dysthymia to evolve into major depression.

People who suffer from dysthymia are relatively functional, though their low self-esteem, low energy, loss of appetite, and lack of sleep interfere with some of their everyday responsibilities.

Lien : Dysthymic disorder


Depression is characterized by many symptoms, the most important of which is probably the generalized loss of meaning that people who have it experience. To them, life no longer seems like a coherent whole, but rather like a fragmented series of events. Their social relationships and daily activities no longer seem meaningful and gradually deteriorate. In a sense, these symptoms are the opposite of the manic phase of manic depression.

Being depressed is very different from experiencing passing sadness, as we all do. A depressive episode can last several weeks, months, or even years and seriously interfere with the work and social life of the person going through it.

There are now many options for the effective treatment of depression. They fall into two major categories: treatment with antidepressant drugs, and various forms of psychotherapy.


Depression can be treated with medications called antidepressants, which improve patients' moods by correcting certain imbalances in the neurotransmitters in their brains.

By correcting these imbalances, these various categories of antidepressants help patients to start sleeping and eating normally again, regaining their energy and pleasure in life, and thinking positively. These effects normally take two to three weeks to begin, but in order to minimize the risk of relapse, antidepressants must be prescribed for about four to six months.

Antidepressants are effective in about 75% of people with severe depression. Antidepressants do not result in dependency, but like all medications, they do have side effects that vary from person to person. These effects will influence the decision of which antidepressant to prescribe, and in what dosage.

Psychotherapy lets patients work on the psychological and social issues that may be associated with their depressive episodes. This form of therapy can help patients to achieve profound changes. But it is a long process, where a great deal clearly depends on the therapist's skill and the natural rapport between the particular therapist and the particular patient.

There are several different types of psychotherapy, but two have proven especially effective in treating depression: cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal therapy.

Cognitive behavioural therapy attempts to change the dysfunctional thoughts and behaviours that accompany depression. Depression often causes people to have distorted thoughts about themselves and their relations with other people and with the world in general. In this form of therapy, the therapist teaches the patient exercises that help him or her to develop new thought schemas. This kind of therapy can provide effective help to people who suffer from mild to moderate depression. It can also help to prevent relapses.

In interpersonal psychotherapy, the basic premise is that most people have problems in their interpersonal relationships, and that if these problems can be solved, then the symptoms of their depression can be stabilized as well. For example, the therapist may try to help the individual to deal more effectively with feelings of grief or mourning, or to adapt to a new role, or to reduce interpersonal conflicts at work, or to overcome interpersonal deficits such as a lack of communication skills, and so on.

For people who are dealing with mild forms of depression, psychotherapy may provide good results all on its own. People suffering from moderate or severe depression will often improve considerably when treated with antidepressants. But in general, it is combined therapies that are the most effective: the medication quickly relieves the patient's symptoms, while the psychotherapy helps him or her to discover new approaches to dealing with the stresses of daily life.

Even though there are some treatments that, alone or in combination, may prove effective in treating depression, an understanding of the multiple factors that can cause depression may eventually help us to prevent certain forms of it.

Electroshock treatment is also used to alleviate symptoms of depression. In this treatment, the patient is given either an anaesthetic or a muscle relaxant, and small electric shocks are then applied to his or her brain for one or two seconds. The exact mechanisms by which this treatment works are not fully understood, but it appears to promote the production of certain neurotransmitters whose levels are abnormally low in depressed individuals.

In general, electroshock treatment is tried when treatment with medication has proven ineffective. Electroshock treatment generally causes only temporary memory loss and is effective both for depressive persons and for people experiencing manic episodes. It often enables patients to go back to living a productive life faster than medication does.

Lien : Shock Therapy May Relieve Depression Lien : All about ECT


Lien : Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Bipolar Disorder (Revision) Lien : Psychosocial Treatments in Bipolar Disorder Lien : Is lithium still worth using? An update of selected recent research. Lien : The Antisuicidal Effects of Lithium
Lien : The illness of Vincent van Gogh. Lien : Bipolar Disorder Lien : La maniaco-depression Lien : Bipolar Disorder
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Histoire : Human behavior: Ways to treat the mind

Daryl, a 25-year-old dancer, had been hired by a dance company to perform in a major production. The first signs of his mania appeared suddenly one night after a rehearsal, when he started telling his wife some nasty things about the director of the company.

A week later, a colleague called Daryl's wife to complain that he had upset the rehearsals by constantly offering unsolicited advice to the company director and the other dancers.

From then on, Daryl's wife realized that his personality had changed. Normally very obliging, he had now become very difficult. He made some very hurtful complaints to her about their sex life. Shortly after that, he was fired from the dance company for having cursed out his colleagues. At home, he kept babbling a mile a minute and barely took the time to get dressed, eat a meal, or sleep. He kept going on spending sprees and making extravagant purchases.

At that point, two weeks after his first symptoms had appeared, Daryl agreed to be hospitalized. He began lithium treatment and responded fairly well to it.

Daryl's father had also had a long history of manic episodes and had lost several jobs after confrontations with his bosses. Subsequently, he too began being treated successfully with lithium.

Source: Robert L. Spitzer, reported by Elliot S. Gershon and Ronald O. Rieder


All of us experience fluctuations in mood. In response to various situations, our mood may change over the course of the month, the week, or even the day. In healthy people, these mood changes even out fairly quickly. But in people with bipolar disorder (formerly known as “manic depression), they are out of proportion to actual events.


In fact, these mood swings become so intense that the people who experience them no longer realize that their manic exuberance has crossed the line into excess, or that their depression has left them mentally paralyzed. These people become slaves to their moods as they shift from episodes of depression to normalcy to mania. The frequency and duration of these episodes can range from a few weeks to several months.

The symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder are the same as those of major depression. In contrast, when people are in a manic phase, their mood is exalted and euphoric.
Because the associated hyperactivity often impairs their judgment, these people can cause serious problems for their friends and family, as well as for themselves, of course (for instance, by going on spending sprees, or contracting huge debts, or breaking the law). In other words, manic episodes are accompanied by impulsive behaviour that can, if left untreated, eventually destroy a person's family, career, and finances.

Luckily, just as in the case of depression, drug treatment supported by psychotherapy can successfully stabilize the individual's mood and enable him or her to function again.

Drug Treatment

The basic drug treatment for bipolar disorder is lithium, a mineral salt that can stabilize mood and reduce the frequency of manic and depressive episodes in about 80% of the people who suffer from this disease.

Most people with bipolar disorder now manage to live normal lives, without manic or depressive episodes, thanks to long-term treatment with lithium.

If a patient does experience a depressive episode, it is treated primarily with antidepressants. Manic episodes are treated primarily with lithium or other medications, such as neuroleptics and anticonvulsants.

Some interesting trials are now under way with tryptophane, an amino acid, which may make it possible to reduce the total dose of lithium and thus alleviate the side effects associated with high doses of this substance.

Psychotherapy and Psychosocial Interventions

Psychotherapy can help people with manic depression to better understand their illness and thereby to develop better strategies for coping with it.

Likewise, various forms of psychosocial interventions, such as associations for people with bipolar disorder, can help to improve their mood substantially, by providing them with information and support.

Indeed, there are many different tools that can help people with bipolar disorder to manage their disease more effectively and live a normal life again. These tools include educating patients and their families, identifying and managing the side effects of their medication, and detecting early signs of recurrence of the disease or sources of stress that might contribute to such a recurrence.

Though the data suggest that the source of bipolar disorder is a strong hereditary predisposition to this disease, researchers agree that it does not have any one single cause but rather a whole set of contributing factors.

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