Depression; a word we throw around so easily nowadays. The word we use to describe anything from a bad day to an overwhelming inability to live life easily. But as anyone with depression knows, it is much more than using it flimsily.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.
Depression is the main cause of disability trusted Source worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Major life events, such as bereavement or the loss of a job, can lead to trusted Source depression. However, doctors only consider feelings of grief to be part of depression if they persist.
Depression is an ongoing problem, not a passing one. It consists episodes, during which the symptoms last for at least 2 weeks. Depression can last for several weeks, months, or years.
Types of depression
A person with major depression experiences a constant state of sadness. They may lose interest in activities that they are used to. Treatment usually involves medication and psychotherapy.
Persistent depressive disorder
Persistent depressive disorder causes symptoms that last for at least 2 years. A person with this disorder may have episodes of major depression as well as milder symptoms. It’s also known as dysthymia.
Depression is a common symptom of bipolar disorder, and research shows that people with this disorder may have symptoms around half of the time. This can make bipolar disorder hard to distinguish from depression.
Psychosis can involve delusions, such as false beliefs and a detachment from reality. It can also involve hallucinations — sensing things that do not exist.
After giving birth, many women experience what some people call the “baby blues.” When hormone levels readjust after childbirth, changes in mood can result. Postpartum depression or postnatal depression, is more severe. There is no single cause for this type of depression, and it can persist for months or years. Anyone who experiences ongoing depression after delivery should seek medical attention
Signs and symptoms
· Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness.
· Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters.
· Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports.
· Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much.
· Tiredness and lack of energy.
· Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain.
· Anxiety, agitation or restlessness.
· Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements.
· Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things.
· Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide.
· Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.
Depression symptoms in children and teens
· In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusing to go to school, or being underweight.
· In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction.
Depression symptoms in older adults
· Partial loss of Memory or personality changes
· Physical aches or pain
· Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems or loss of interest in sex — not caused by a medical condition or medication
· Often wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things
· Suicidal thinking or feelings, especially in older men
· Biological differences: People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain, but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
· Brain chemistry: Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
· Hormones: Changes in the body’s balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result with pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum) and from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.
· Inherited traits: Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.