By: Babatunde Oladipupo
Causes, Symptoms, and possible treatments.
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the most common illness worldwide and the leading cause of disability. They estimate that 350 million people are affected by depression, globally.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
The causes of depression are not fully understood and may not be down to a single source. Depression is likely to be due to a complex combination of factors that include:
- biological – changes in neurotransmitter levels
- psychological and social (psychosocial)
Some people are at higher risk of depression than others; risk factors include:
- Life events: These include bereavement, divorce, work issues, relationships with friends and family, financial problems, medical concerns, or acute stress.
- Personality: Those with less successful coping strategies, or previous life trauma are more susceptible.
- Genetic factors: Having a first-degree relatives with depression increases the risk.
- Childhood trauma.
- Abuse of recreational drugs: Abuse of alcohol, amphetamines, and other drugs are strongly linked to depression.
- A past head injury.
- Having had one episode of major depression: This increases the risk of a subsequent one.
- Chronic pain syndromes: These and other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease make depression more likely.
Facts About Depression
- Depression seems to be more common among women than men.
- Symptoms include lack of joy and reduced interest in things that used to bring a person happiness.
- Life events, such as bereavement, produce mood changes that can usually be distinguished from the features of depression.
The causes of depression are not fully understood but are likely to be a complex combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychosocial factors.
Conditions that can get worse due to depression include:
It’s important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone. But, if you’re feeling miserable or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression. Depression is considered a serious medical condition, and it can get worse without proper treatment. Yet, those who seek treatment often see improvements in symptoms in just a few weeks.
Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants, antianxiety, or antipsychotic medications. Each type of medication that’s used to treat depression has benefits and potential risks.
Speaking with a therapist can help you learn skills to cope with negative feelings. You may also benefit from family or group therapy sessions.
- Exercise and other therapies
Aerobic exercise may help against mild depression since it raises endorphin levels and stimulates the neither neurotransmitter nor epinephrine, which is related to mood.