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Depression - What is depression, cause, signs and symptoms.


What is Depression
Cause of Depression
Signs and Symptom of Depression

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What is Depression

Depression is a mood disorder in which there is an intense feeling of sadness, anger or frustration; it may follow a recent loss or other sad events but it is out of proportion to that event and persists beyond an appropriate length of time and it interferes with everyday life.

According to National Institute of Mental Health, depression affects more than 15 million Americans each year. An episode of depression typically lasts about 6 months, it can be mild, moderate, or severe and occur as a single episode or as recurring episodes. If untreated, it can lasts for 2 years or more.

The primary types of depression include:

  • Major depression. This a mood disorder where there are about 5 or more symptoms of depression present. Depression episode last at least 2 weeks, but tends to continue for 20 weeks.
  • Dysthymia. This type of depression is chronic but generally a milder form of depression; symptoms are similar to major depression but more mild in degree
  • Atypical depression. This type of depression is accompanied by unusual symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations and physical rigidity

Other common forms of depression include:

  • Postpartum depression. This type of depression is experienced by 10% to 20% of women following delivery
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PDD). A type of depression that is experienced by 3% to 8% of women; depressive symptoms occur 1 week prior to menstruation and disappear after menstruation
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This type of depression is experienced by 5% of adults, the majority of whom are women; occurs during the fall-winter season and disappears during the spring-summer season
  • Manic depression or bipolar disorder. This depression appear with mania. Moods cycle between mania and depression.


What is the Cause of Depression

A number of factors may make a person more likely to experience depression, such as a family tendency (heredity), side effects of certain drugs, and emotionally distressing events, particularly those involving loss.

The causes of depression are complex and involve a combination of biologic, genetic, and environmental factors. People with depression may have abnormal levels of certain brain chemicals, including serotonin, acetylcholine, and catecholamines (such as dopamine).


  • Heredity. a gene called SERT that regulates the brain chemical serotonin, has been linked to depression
  • Chronic stress (such as from loss, abuse, or deprivation)
  • Hormonal changes in women. which can create mood changes shortly before menstruation and after childbirth. That is why depression is more common to women than men.
  • Sleep disturbances or loss of sleep
  • Social isolation and deprivation
  • Nutritional deficiencies (especially folate and omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Serious medical conditions, such as heart attack or cancer
  • Other mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders, alcoholism and other substance abuse and schizophrenia
  • Certain medications, including those for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or irregular heartbeat

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

While it is normal for everyone to get the blues from time to time, a person with major depression feels significantly depressed for a prolonged period of time. The person may experience at least five of the following symptoms for 2 weeks or more:

  • Feeling of sadness, lethargy, pessism, hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness or helpnessness.
  • Sleep disturbances—at least 90% of people with depression have either insomnia (sleeplessness) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
  • Significant change in appetite (often resulting in either weigh gain or weight loss)
  • Fatigue, weakening or loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions and have memory problems.
  • agitated, restless, irritable or inactivity and withdrawal
  • Having delusions or hallucinations.
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

To some people other defining characteristics of depression, maybe lack of sex drive and sudden bursts of anger.


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