Depression


Depression is characterized by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. It is a brain disorder that affects your whole body -- your behavior, mood, the way you think and the way your body feels. This is not a personal weakness or something that can be willed or wished away. Depressive disorders affect more than 20 million Americans each year.
One in four women and one in 10 men have a serious episode of depression during their lifetime. Children can also develop depression, which increases the risk for substance abuse problems and for suicide. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Sometimes depression comes out of the blue with no obvious cause or other times depression can happen because of a bad event like the death of a loved one or from stress. No matter the cause, see a doctor if you are suicidal, you cannot do routine activities or if your symptoms do not go away. Keep in mind that it's normal to feel sad from time to time. Even grief over the loss of a loved one can look like depression, especially if it lingers for several months. If your grief lasts two months or longer, talk to your doctor. If you think you cannot keep from hurting yourself or someone else, call 911. Major depression is a moderate to severe episode lasting two or more weeks. People may have trouble sleeping, lose interest in activities, lose or gain weight, have difficulty concentrating, feel worthless and hopeless, or be preoccupied with death or suicide. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime. Dysthymic disorder is an ongoing, chronic depression that lasts two or more years or, in children, one or more years. The symptoms can change in intensity. Someone with the disorder may be all right for as long as two months at a time, but then the symptoms come back. Dysthymic disorder begins slowly and sometimes people with the disorder may not be able to pinpoint when the depression started. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.
Some types of depression are:
  • Major depression.
  • Dysthymic disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Post-partum depression (PPD)..
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Major depression
Major depression is a moderate to severe episode lasting two or more weeks. People may have trouble sleeping, lose interest in activities, lose or gain weight, have difficulty concentrating, feel worthless and hopeless, or be preoccupied with death or suicide. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime
Dysthymic disorder
Major depression is a moderate to severe episode lasting two or more weeks. People may have trouble sleeping, lose interest in activities, lose or gain weight, have difficulty concentrating, feel worthless and hopeless, or be preoccupied with death or suicide. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime
Bipolar disorder.
Depression occurs in bipolar disorder, a mental illness that can toss a person between terrible lows and manic highs. Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual. Bipolar disorder used to be called manic-depression. During the manic phase, the person is optimistic and has exaggerated feelings of well-being. Their minds are overactive and they need very little sleep, but, while they have plenty of energy, they lack concentration. During the depressive phase, the person feels despairing and may contemplate suicide.
Postpartum/postnatal depression.
About one in eight new mothers experience serious postpartum depression. Usually, the depression begins during the first year of parenthood, and ranges in severity from mild to severe. Contributing factors include:
  • The hormonal upheaval of pregnancy, birth and lactation
  • Physical exhaustion from broken sleep
  • Loss of independence
  • Financial pressures
  • Changed relationships with partner, family and friends.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Depression is more common in the winter months and in the Northern Hemisphere, which suggests to some researchers that brain chemistry is affected by sunlight exposure. Certain studies have shown that light hitting the back of the eye (retina) stimulates the brain to make mood-enhancing chemicals. Apart from depression, other characteristics of SAD include eating more and gaining weight, excessive sleeping, and withdrawing from people. Usually, a person with SAD comes out of 'hibernation' in the spring.
Signs of Depression
  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep.
  • Anger
  • Pessimism
  • Fatigue
  • Inability concentrate
  • No interest in hobbies
  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Suicidal thoughts

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