Depression is mental illness in which a person experiences deep, unshakable sadness and diminished interest in nearly all activities. The term depression is also used to describe the temporary sadness, loneliness, or blues that everyone feels from time to time. In contrast to normal sadness, severe depression, also called major depression, can dramatically impair a person’s ability to function in social situations and at work. People with major depression often have feelings of despair, hopelessness, and worthlessness, as well as thoughts of committing suicide.
Anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status, can suffer from depression. It is estimated that 19 million Americans suffer from depression every year. Depression is not a weakness or a character flaw, it is a true medical illness. The good news is that with proper treatment, 4 out of 5 patients will improve in time. Millions are being successfully treated. People who have depression are not just moody or having “the blues” for a few days. They have long periods of feeling very sad and lose interest in social and daily activities. Depression changes the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves.
If you have been diagnosed with depression you may be unsure of how to discuss it with your family, friends, and coworkers. It may make you uncomfortable at first, but learning how to better express your feelings will improve the success of your treatment.
The causes of depression are not always clear. It may be caused by an event or for no apparent reason at all. Genes may also play a role by not providing your brain with enough serotonin. The symptoms of depression may differ from person to person. Some symptoms may include a persistent sad mood, lack of pleasure in activities, change in sleep or eating habits, or a feeling of worthlessness.
· Atypical Depression: Depression in people who have an ability to cheer themselves up by doing certain things.
· Bipolar Depression: Depression with manic episode(s).
· Endogenous Depression: Acute Depression with no obvious cause(s).
· Involutional Depression: Depression that occurs in the elderly. (Generally the same as Major Depression.)
· Reactive Depression: Depression caused by an obvious traumatic life episode(s).
· Major Depression: Depression in people who have no ability to cheer themselves up.
· Postpartum Depression: Depression that occurs in women soon after giving birth. (Generally the same as Major Depression.)
· Primary Depression: Depression alone with no other medical illness / disorder.
· Psychotic Depression: Depression accompanied by delusions and/or hallucinations.
· Secondary Depression: Depression that occurs after the onset of another medical illness / disorder.
· Unipolar Depression: Depression with no manic episode.
Depression can take several other forms. In bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness) a person’s mood swings back and forth between depression and mania. People with seasonal affective disorder typically suffer from depression only during autumn and winter, when there are fewer hours of daylight. In dysthymia, people feel depressed, have low self-esteem, and concentrate poorly most of the time-often for a period of years-but their symptoms are milder than in major depression. Some people with dysthymia experience occasional episodes of major depression. Mental health professionals use the term clinical depression to refer to any of the above forms of depression.