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Depression at Work: Healthy Life

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DEPRESSION BACKGROUND: Some describe it as a black curtain blocking out all the light in your life. Others describe it as a physical weight that rests on your shoulders, draining your mental and physical energy. The symptoms are vast, but the truth is 16 percent of Americans will experience depression at some point in their lives. For many, it's a constant battle -- recurrence is very common for patients who have experienced at least one episode of depression. Depression is more than just a negative state of mind. There are physical changes that occur in the brain that disrupt that natural balance of chemicals called neurotransmitters.

There is no single factor that causes depression. In fact, many experts believe most cases of depression are a result of several sources. The most common are:
•Family history
•Trauma and stress
•Pessimistic personality
•Physical medical conditions
•Other psychological disorders

Depression can affect anyone, but certain factors like age and gender may play a role.

•Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with depression. This may be because of hormonal changes like menstruation, menopause and pregnancy.
•Men are more likely than women to have undiagnosed depression. It's common for males to mask depression with things like drug and alcohol abuse. Anger and hostility are also more common among depressed men. Suicide is a serious risk for men with depression -- they are four-times more likely than women to kill themselves.
•Elderly people are a little known at-risk group for depression.

VNS THERAPY: Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) is one of the newest potential treatment options for depression. It was originally designed and approved by the FDA to treat epilepsy. However, researchers are exploring the possibility that VNS may also effectively regulate mood. Similar to a pacemaker, a vagus nerve stimulator is implanted under a patient's skin near his/her collarbone. A wire connects the device to the vagus nerve in the neck. It then sends electric impulses through the wire. These signals help regulate mood. Some patients experience an alteration of voice quality and loudness during the time the pulse is being delivered to the vagus nerve. Other common side effects include hoarseness, throat pain, cough and shortness of breath.

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