What is depression?

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Different types of depression

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Symptoms

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Do I need to see a doctor?

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Treatment options

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                                                         Depression

                                                                    A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood,

                                                                    and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the

                                                                    way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about

                                                                    things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue

                                                                    mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that

                                                                    can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness

                                                                   cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without

treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.​

The different faces of Depression


Depressive disorders come in different forms, just as is the case with other illnesses such as heart disease. This section briefly describes three of the most common types of depressive disorders. However, within these types there are variations in the number of symptoms, their severity and persistence.

Major depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms (see symptom list) that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime.

A less severe type of depression, dysthymia, involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.

Another type of depression is Bipolar Disorder, also called manic-depressive illness. Not nearly as prevalent as other forms of depressive disorders, bipolar disorder is characterised by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of a depressive disorder. When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, overtalkative and have a great deal of energy. Mania often affects thinking, judgement, and social behaviour in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated, full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state.

Symptoms of Depression and Mania


Not everyone who is depressed or manic experiences every symptom. Some people experience a few symptoms, some many. Severity of symptoms varies with individuals and also varies over time.


Depression


- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain


Mania


- Abnormal or excessive elation
- Unusual irritability
- Decreased need for sleep
- Grandiose notions
- Increased talking
- Racing thoughts
- Increased sexual desire
- Markedly increased energy
- Poor judgment
- Inappropriate social behaviour

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