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What is Depression? – Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, and More

What is Depression?

Depression is an emotional disorder that sources a constant feeling of sadness and a loss of interest in doing different activities. And also called “major depressive disorder” or “clinical depression.”

It affects a person’s feelings, thoughts, and behavior and can cause various physical and emotional problems. You may find it challenging to carry out everyday activities and sometimes feel that life is not worth living.

More than just a fleeting sadness, depression is not a weakness, and one cannot quickly recover from it overnight.

Depression may require long-term treatment. But don’t be discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medicine, psychotherapy, or both.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

depression

Although depression can occur only once in a lifetime, generally, people have several episodes of depression. During these episodes, symptoms occur for much of the day, almost every day, and may include:

  • Feelings of sadness, the urge to cry, emptiness, or hopelessness;
  • Outbursts of anger, irritability, or frustration, even over minor matters;
  • Loss of interest or pleasure from most or all usual activities, such as sex, hobbies, or sports;
  • Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or sleeping too much;
  • Tiredness and absence of energy, so even small tasks require more effort;
  • Lack of appetite and weight gain, or more food cravings and weight gain;
  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness;
  • Slowness to reason, speak and make body movements;
  • Feelings of uselessness or guilt, fixation on past abortion, or self-blame;
  • Strain thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things;
  • Frequent or recurring thoughts about death, suicidal thoughts, suicide try, or suicide;
  • Unexplained physical problems, like back pain or headache;
  • For many people with depression, the symptoms are often severe enough to cause noticeable problems in daily activities, such as work, school, social activities, or relationships with other people. Some people may feel unhappy or sad in general without really knowing why.

1. Children and Adolescents

  • The usual signs and depression symptoms in children and teens are similar to adults, but there may be some differences.
  • In younger children, symptoms of depression can include sadness, irritability, attachment, worry, pain, refusal to go to school, or low weight.
  • In teens, symptoms can include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or low school attendance, feeling misunderstood and overly sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, wasting interest in usual activities and avoiding social interaction.

2. Older Adults

Depression is not a standard part of older, and it should never take lightly. Unfortunately, depression often goes undiagnosed or untreated in older adults, who may be reluctant to seek help.

Symptoms of depression may be different or less evident in older adults, including:

  • Memory problems or personality changes;
  • Physical pain;
  • Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems, or loss of interest in sex that is not the result of illness or medication;
  • Wanting to stay home often, instead of going out to socialize or do new things;
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings, especially in older men.

What are the Causes of Depression?

depression

The exact cause of depression is unknown. As with many mental disorders, you can understand a variety of factors, such as:

1. Biological Differences

  • People with depression have physical changes in the brain.
  • The importance of these changes is still uncertain, but over time they can help identify the causes.

2. Chemistry of the Brain

  • Neurotransmitters are chemicals naturally found in the brain that probably play a role in depression.
  • Recent research indicates that changes in these neurotransmitters’ function and effect and how they interact with the neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play an important role in depression and its treatment.

3. Hormones

  • Changes in the body’s hormonal balance may play a role in causing or triggering depression.
  • Hormonal changes can occur in pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum), and from thyroid problems, menopause, or other disorders.

4. Hereditary Traits

  • Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this disorder.
  • Researchers are looking for genes that may be involved in the origin of depression.

Risk Factors for Depression

risk factor

Depression usually begins in your teens or early twenties, or thirties, but it can appear at any time in life. This disease is diagnosed more in women than men, but it may be, in part, because women are more likely to seek treatment.

Some of the factors that seem to increase your risk of developing or triggering depression are:

  • Specific personality feature, such as having low self-esteem and being overly dependent, overly self-critical, or pessimistic;
  • Traumatic or stressful situations, such as physical or sexual abuse, the death or loss of a loved one, a complicated relationship, or financial problems;
  • Blood relatives who have a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, or suicide;
  • Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or having variations in genital development that are not male or female (intersex) in a non-supportive setting;
  • History of other mental health mess, such as anxiety, eating, or post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Alcohol or recreational drug abuse;
  • A severe or chronic illness, such as cancer, stroke, chronic pain, or heart disease;
  • Take medications, such as high blood pressure or sleeping pills (talk to your doctor before stopping any drugs).

Complications of Depression

It is a serious disorder that can have devastating effects on both you and your family members. It tends to worsen if left untreated and can lead to emotional, behavioral, and health problems that can affect all aspects of your life.

Examples of complications related to depression include:

  • Being overweight or obese, which can guide to heart disease or diabetes;
  • Physical pain or illness;
  • Inappropriate use of alcohol or drugs;
  • Anxiety, panic disorder, and social phobias;
  • Family conflicts, difficulties in your relationships, and problems at school or work;
  • Social isolation;
  • Suicidal feelings, suicide attempts, or suicide;
  • Self-mutilation, such as cuts;
  • Premature death from the disease.

Prevention of Depression

  • There is no sure way to avoid it. However, the following strategies can be helpful.
  • Take steps to manage stress, improve your resilience, and boost your self-esteem.
  • Reach out to family and friends, mostly in times of crisis, to help you get through the bad times.
  • Get treatment at the first sign of a problem to help prevent depression from getting worse.
  • Consider having long-term supportive treatment to help prevent symptoms from returning.
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When to See the Doctor

If you feel depressed, make an appointment with a doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible.

If you don’t want to seek treatment, talk to a friend or loved one, any health care provider, a religious leader, or someone else you trust.

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Conclusion

It is a severe disorder that can have devastating effects on both you and your family members.

This disease is diagnosed more in women than in men. Most people with depression feel better with medicine, psychotherapy, or both.

Also Read: Soft Diet – Definition, Types, Foods, Recipes, and More

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