Dr. Mayberg explains the causes of depression symptoms.
Once a diagnosis is made, as with any, when any signs and symptoms lead a doctor to make a diagnosis, one wants to also then consider the differential diagnosis, meaning what might be leading to these signs and symptoms.
So for many people who are diagnosed with depression, there is nothing other than depression leading to the signs and symptoms, and we call that primary depression. That’s what we refer to in psychiatry as a primary depressive, major depressive episode.
Some major depressions can be in the setting of a past history of having elevated mood. So we need to be making the distinction between major depression, which is just depression, and depressions that alternate with elevated moods or manias, which we call bipolar depression. But this gets into nuances of the subtypes of primary psychiatric depression.
The thing we also need to do, particularly in women, is to evaluate other potential medical problems that may lead to symptoms of depression, but where their cause can be found and important causes of depressive symptoms sort of mimicking the primary depression, can be problems with the thyroid gland, problems in and around menopause, certain vitamin deficiencies, and so it’s very critical to actually have a full medical evaluation even if one’s presenting symptoms are depression.
About Dr. Mayberg, M.D., FRCPC:
Helen Mayberg, M.D., FRCPC, if a Professor of Psychiatry Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychobiology from the University of California and her medical degree from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. Her research concerns the characterization of neural systems mediating mood and emotions in health and disease using functional neuroimaging. Defining brain mechanisms underlying major depression is the primary goal, with an emphasis on development of algorithms that will discriminate patient subgroups, optimize treatment selection, and provide markers of disease vulnerability.