Depression

Depression is a mental illness marked by feelings of profound sadness and lack of interest in activities. It is a persistent low mood that interferes with the ability to function and appreciate things in life. It may cause a wide range of symptoms, both physical and emotional. It can last for weeks, months, or years. People with depression rarely recover without treatment.

  • Causes

    The exact cause of depression is not known. It may be due to a certain type of brain chemistry. While the exact cause is not clearly established, factors that may play a role in depression include:

    Brain
    Brain Man Face
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Definition

    Depression is a mental illness marked by feelings of profound sadness and lack of interest in activities. It is a persistent low mood that interferes with the ability to function and appreciate things in life. It may cause a wide range of symptoms, both physical and emotional. It can last for weeks, months, or years. People with depression rarely recover without treatment.

  • Diagnosis

    There is no blood test or diagnostic test for depression. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, giving special attention to:

    • Alcohol
      and drug use
    • Thoughts of death or suicide
    • Family members who have or have had depression
    • Sleep patterns
    • Previous episodes of depression

    Specific mental health exams may be done. This will help the doctor get detailed information about your speech, thoughts, memory, and mood. A physical exam and other tests can help rule out other causes.

  • Prevention

    Strategies to reduce your chance of becoming depressed include:

    • Being aware of your personal risk factors
    • Having a psychiatric evaluation and psychotherapy if needed
    • Developing social supports
    • Learning stress management techniques
    • Exercising regularly
    • Not abusing alcohol or drugs
    • Getting adequate sleep, rest, and recreation

    • Eating healthy food, including
      fruits, vegetables
      , and
      whole grains

  • Risk Factors

    Depression is more common in females. There are a range of factors that may increase your risk of depression. Examples include:

    • Having a family history of depression
    • Spouse with depression
    • Previous episode of depression
    • Hormonal changes
    • Chronic illness

    • Other conditions related to mental health such as
      anxiety
      ,
      drug abuse
      ,
      insomnia
      , and personality disorder
    • History of traumatic brain injury
    • History of concussion in teenagers
    • History of drug or alcohol abuse
    • Domestic violence
    • History of child abuse and neglect or sexual abuse
    • Obesity
    • History of bullying

    • Emotional or social factors, such as:

      • Little or no social support
      • Negative thought patterns and beliefs
      • Low self-esteem
      • Lack of personal control over circumstances
      • Feelings of helplessness

  • Symptoms

    Depression can differ from person to person. Some people have only a few symptoms, while others have many.

    Symptoms can change over time and may include:

    • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
    • Hopelessness
    • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
    • Feeling tired
    • Restlessness or irritability
    • Trouble sleeping, waking up too early, or oversleeping
    • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
    • Trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
    • Loss of interest in sex
    • Eating more or less than usual
    • Weight gain or weight loss
    • Thoughts of death or
      suicide
      with or without suicide attempts
    • Physical symptoms that defy standard diagnosis and do not respond well to medical treatments

  • Treatment

    Treatment may involve the use of medication and/or psychotherapy.

    Severe depression can require hospital care, especially if you are at risk of hurting yourself or others.