Page 161 - Faculty Handbook2

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Mental Health Concerns
161
What are the causes of MDD?
There is no single known cause. Psychological, biological, and
environmental factors all contribute to its development.
Norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine are three
neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that transmit
electrical signals between brain cells) that are thought to be
involved. Antidepressant medications work by increasing the
availability of neurotransmitters or by changing the
sensitivity of the receptors for these chemical messengers.
Thought processes, behaviors and interpersonal relationships
also play a role in MDD. Various psychotherapies have been
found to effectively treat MDD including cognitive therapy,
interpersonal therapy and behavioral activation. Genetics
may also play a role. There is an increased risk for developing
depression when there is a family history of the illness. Some
people may have a biological make-up that leaves them
particularly vulnerable to developing depression. Life events
such as the death of a loved one, a major loss or change,
chronic stress and alcohol or drug abuse may trigger
episodes of depression. Some illnesses such as heart disease
and cancer and some medications may also trigger
depressive episodes.
How is MDD treated?
Although MDD can be devastating, it is highly treatable.
Between 80 and 90 percent of those diagnosed with MDD
can be effectively treated and function normally. Many types
of treatment are available and the type chosen depends on
the individual and the severity and patterns of the illness.