Depression, also called major depression or major depressive disorder and clinical depression, is a medical illness that leads to persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest (Mayo Clinic, 2013). It affects how the person feels, thinks, and behaves. It also causes a variety of physical and emotional problems. It is therefore a common, but at the same time a serious disease. This paper delineates on depression in general, its forms, causes, diagnosis, consequences, and treatment among others, incorporating different findings from various studies.
Various forms of depressive disorders manifest in different indivdua. Different forms of depression have different symptoms, for instance major depressive disorder has a range of symptoms that affects a person’s ability to have a good sleep and carryout his/her activities (Craven & Bland, 2013). This form of depression hinders normal functioning. A person may experience these symptoms in lifetime or may have multiple episodes. Another form of depression is dysthymic or dysthymia, which occurs for two or more years (National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), 2013). This form of depression may be as severe as to alter the normal functioning of individuals. Furthermore, people suffering from dysthymia are likely to experience one or more symptoms of major depression. On the other hand, minor depression occurs when the symptoms are manifest in two weeks or longer, but does not meet full criteria to be classified under major depression. Therefore, people with a minor form of depression require treatment to prevent aggravation (Mayo Clinic, 2013). Other forms or categories of depression differ slightly from the ones mentioned above. These develop under unique characteristics. Psychotic depression is believed happen as a result of severe depression coupled with symptoms such as experiencing distressing false beliefs, delusions and hallucinations. Postpartum depression is experienced mostly by women after giving birth as a result of changes in their hormones and physique, worrying about the duties of raising the child that awaits them (Craven & Bland, 2013). Studies have indicated that an estimate of 10% to 15% of women become affected by this kind of depression when they give birth (NIH, 2013). Seasonal affective disorder is yet another form of depression, that is manifest when depression begins at the start of winter seasons, when sunlight is less. It ends during spring and summer periods. This kind of depression is treatable using light therapy, alongside other medication such as antidepressant medication and psychotherapy (NIH, 2013).
Research has indicated that differnt factors cause depression. According to NIH (2013), different combination of factors including biological, genetic, psychological and environmental factors cause depression. Various institutions have carried out research on imagining technologies such as Brain Imaging company, and indicated that the brains of those people suffering from this illness look different from those not suffering from it. It shows that those sections of the brain with the responsibility of helping in thinking, mood, sleep, behavior, and appetite appear different. The shortcoming with these findings is that they do not reveal why depression occurs and cannot be relied on when it comes to diagnosing depression. According to Craven & Bland (2013), depression can be inherited through family. Likewise, it is true that depression can also occur to people without family histories. Studies are underway to determine which kinds of genes have higher chances of making individuals suffer from depression. However, some genetic research findings have indicated a relationship between depression and genes (NIH, 2013). They postulate that some of the genes combine with environmental factors to trigger depression. Environmental factors and psychological factors are the most known causes of depression in most people. Trauma, conflicts in relationships, passing way of people form families and friends, exam failure, exam cancellation, and stressful situations trigger episodes of depression (Mayo Clinic, 2013). However, it is important to note that there are episodes of depression that may occur without any trigger or influence.
How will you know that you are depressed? Many people ask this question and cannot differentiate whether they are suffering from depression or other ailments. People suffering from depression may not experience similar symptoms. The frequency, severity and duration of these signs and symptoms differ among people. Various signs and symptoms indicate that an individual is suffering from depression. This includes having empty feelings, persistent sadness, feeling of pessimism and hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, irritability, and restlessness. Other symptoms are loss of interest in hobbies once pleasurable such as sex, decreased energy and fatigue, problems with concentration and remembering details, problems in decision making, insomnia, appetite loss, early morning wakefulness, suicide attempts, aches and pains among many others (NIH, 2013).
Research has indicated that the most common mental disorder in the United States is a major depressive disorder. Statistics indicate that every year, an approximate of 6.7% U.S. adults experience major depressive disorder (NIH, 2013). Further, statistics show that the rate of women suffering from this disorder is 70% more compared to that of men. Non-Hispanic blacks are 40% less likely to suffer from major depression compared to the non-Hispanic whites during their lifetime. It further indicates that the average age when this disorder is likely to start is at 32 years. Furthermore, 3.3% of the people aged between 13 and 18 years have in one occasion experienced serious debilitating depressive disorder (NIH, 2013).
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