Depression Information

Health condition

Although depression is not necessarily suffered, it is a serious condition that needs guidance from a doctor whether it is a minor depression, or mild or clinical depression.

· Minor depression
Although there is broad knowledge about the scope of suffering and disability due to major depressive disorder, less is known about the day-to-day struggles faced by people with minor depression. Its symptoms are the same as those of major depression, though fewer in number and causing less impairment. They include:

· Either a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
· Or a markedly diminished interest or pleasure in daily activities
· Plus two to four of the following symptoms:
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Decrease or increase in appetite
- Disturbance in sleep pattern
- Noticeable agitation or slowness
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Inappropriate feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Diminished ability to concentrate
- Indecisiveness
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

The symptoms must last at least 6 months but less than 2 years continuously.

· Mild or clinical depression
Clinical depression is extreme and persistent and can interfere significantly with a person's ability to function. The symptoms of someone suffering from clinical depression are:
· Loss of interest in friends
· Loss of interest in usual activities
· Sleep disturbances like insomnia, oversleep and waking up early in the morning
· Restlessness
· Anxiety
· Fatigue and low energy
· Poor appetite or over eating
· Weight loss or weight gain
· Lack of concentration
· Difficulties in making decisions
· Frequent crying spells
· Suicidal thoughts
· Feelings of worthlessness
· Feelings of inappropriate guilt
· Feelings of hopelessness
· Feelings of helplessness

A person is clinically depressed if he or she has five or more of these symptoms and has not been functioning normally for most days during the same two-week period. There are three main types of clinical depression: major depressive disorder; dysthymic disorder; and bipolar depression, the depressed phase of bipolar disorder. Within these types are variations in the number of associated mental symptoms, and their severity and persistence.

A person experiencing major depressive disorder suffers from, among other symptoms, a depressed mood or loss of interest in normal activities that lasts most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks. Such episodes may occur only once, but more commonly occur several times in a lifetime.

Dysthymic disorder is chronic but less severe than major depressive disorder. It doesn't strike in episodes, but is instead characterized by milder, persistent symptoms. Dysthymic disorder is diagnosed when depressed mood persists for at least two years (one year in children) and is accompanied by at least two other symptoms of depression. Although it usually doesn't interfere with everyday tasks, people with this milder form of depression rarely feel like they are functioning at their full capacities.

Bipolar disorder cycles between episodes of major depression, similar to those seen in major depressive disorder, and highs known as mania, which is characterized by abnormally and persistently elevated mood or irritability. In a manic phase, a person might act on delusional grand schemes that could range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. Mania left untreated may deteriorate into a psychotic state. Symptoms of mania include overly inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, increased talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, physical agitation, and excessive risk-taking. Because bipolar disorder requires different treatment than major depression or dysthymia, obtaining an accurate diagnosis is extremely important.

Depression cannot be willed or wished away, and may have ongoing symptoms. Because the symptoms, course of illness, and response to treatment vary so much among people with depression, doctors believe that depression may have a number of complex and interacting causes. Some factors include another medical illness, losing a loved one, stressful life events, and drug or alcohol abuse. Any of these factors also may contribute to recurrent major depressive episodes.

Modern brain imaging technologies are revealing that neural circuits responsible for the regulation of moods, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior fail to function properly in people with depression. Imaging studies also indicate that critical neurotransmitters--chemicals used by nerve cells to communicate--are out of balance.

Genetics research suggests that vulnerability to depression results from the influence of multiple genes acting together with environmental factors. The hormonal system that regulates the body's response to stress also is overactive in many depressed people. Research conducted in the fields of psychiatry, behavioral science, neuroscience, biology, and genetics, including studies of twins, lead scientists to believe that the risk of developing mental illness increases if another family member is similarly affected, suggesting a hereditary component.

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