Depression, otherwise known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a common and serious mood disorder. Depression is not the same as being sad and is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is an illness and can have a serious effect on a person’s life and the lives of those around them. People who suffer from depression experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed.Aside from the emotional problems caused by depression, individuals can also present with a physical symptom such as chronic pain, digestive issues, weight loss or gain, etc.In severe cases it can make everyday life extremely difficult, and even lead to suicide.

Depression is an ongoing problem. It consists of episodes during which the symptoms last for at least 2 weeks. Depression can last for several weeks, months, or years.Major life events, such as bereavement or the loss of a job, can lead to depression. However, doctors only consider feelings of grief to be part of depression if they persist.

What causes Depression?

There are several possible causes of depression. They can range from biological to circumstantial. Common causes include:

Family history – You’re at a higher risk for developing depression if you have a family history of depression or another mood disorder.

Early childhood trauma– Some events affect the way your body reacts to fear and stressful situations.

Brain structure– There’s a greater risk for depression if the frontal lobe of your brain is less active. However, scientists don’t know if this happens before or after the onset of depressive symptoms.

Medical conditions– Certain conditions may put you at higher risk, such as chronic illness, insomnia, chronic pain, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Drug use- A history of drug or alcohol misuse can affect your risk.

What are the symptoms of Depression?

Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. At its mildest, you can simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living. Some common symptoms of depression are:

  1. Feeling sad or low for long periods of time
  2. Feeling hopeless or helpless
  3. Feelings of guilt
  4. Being anxious or worried a lot
  5. Feeling irritable
  6. Feeling tired all the time and having no energy
  7. Having no motivation or being unable to concentrate
  8. Losing interest in things that you normally enjoy
  9. Losing interest in sex
  10. Changes in your appetite – eating too much or too little
  11. Having trouble sleeping, or needing to sleep more than usual
  12. Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  13. Thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself
  14. In severe cases, a person with depression might experience symptoms of psychosis (e.g., hallucinations, such as hearing voices).

Symptoms in Females

Symptoms in Males

Symptom in College students

Symptoms in Teens

Symptoms in children

  1.  Irritability
  2. Anxiety
  3. Mood swings
  4.  Fatigue
  5.  Dwelling on negative thoughts
  1. Avoiding families and social situations
  2. Working without break
  3.  Displaying abusive or controlling behavior in relationships
  4. Having difficulty keeping up with work and family responsibilities.
  1. Difficulty concentrating on school work.
  2.   Insomnia
  3. Hypersomnia
  4. A decrease or increase in appetite
  5.  Avoiding social situations and activities that they used to enjoy
  1. Withdrawing from friends and families
  2. Difficulty concentrating on school work
  3.  Feeling guilty, helpless or worthless
  4.  Restlessness such as an inability to sit still
  1.  Crying
  2.   Low energy
  3. Clingy behavior
  4. Defiant behavior
  5. Vocal outburst

It’s important to note that a person with depression might not experience all of these symptoms – for example, someone can be suffering from depression without feeling particularly sad.

How common is Depression?


Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. More than 264 million people suffer from it worldwide. It can affect people of any age, including children. It is 1 of the most common mental illnesses. It effects about 1 in 6 of us. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to have depression.

How is Depression diagnosed?


If you are concerned about your mental health, or the mental health of someone you care about, it’s important you speak with a health professional, such as a GP. A mental health assessment usually involves a discussion or answering a questionnaire, as well as a physical examination. This will help your doctor differentiate between mental and physical health problems.

Your doctor will want to understand how you feel and think, and check for any symptoms of depression, such as in your energy levels, appetite, sleep and whether you are feeling restless, hopeless or sad. If you have a family history of mental illness — either depression or some other condition — tell your GP since this can help with your diagnosis. Your answers will help your GP determine whether a specialist such as a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist might be helpful.


What is the treatment for Depression?


People with mild depression sometimes get better without any treatment, but in more severe cases they may need lots of help. Lifestyle changes are usually the first method of treatment to try. Getting more exercise, eating healthily and sleeping well can all have a powerful effect our moods. Self-help websites can also be useful. These sites are recommended by medical professionals as a good source of information and practical advice on coping with depression. Other treatment procedures are:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT is a treatment that helps change the way a person thinks and behaves. It identifies unhelpful ways of thinking and can help to break the cycle of negative thoughts. A therapist will work with you to identify any recurring negative or irrational thoughts you may have, as well as how they affect your behaviours, and will gradually work towards replacing these beliefs with healthier and more practical thoughts.

Medication – In moderate to severe cases, antidepressant medication may be required. These medicines work by balancing the chemicals in the brain that control our moods. Many people find them effective, but they can have drawbacks. Some people experience unpleasant side effects, and they can take several weeks to work.

A combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medication is often the most effective way to treat depression.

Tips for people with Depression


Talking to people you trust about how you feel can be helpful, and may make it easier for you to talk to your GP.

Depression might feel like it will never go away, but in most cases it does get better with the right help.

Make an effort to stay connected to the people you care about. Keeping in touch with friends and family can help you to get perspective and avoid feelings of isolation.

Depression can become a cycle – you become depressed, then feel more depressed about being depressed. Remember that it is a real illness, and not your fault.

Keep occupied and do things that you like. Whether you enjoy gardening, writing, making music or sports, doing something helps take your mind off depressive thoughts.

Avoid using alcohol or drugs to get you through hard times Alcohol is a depressant, and can stop medication from doing it’s job, and while it may seem to make you feel better temporarily, it will eventually make things worse.

Get plenty of exercise – even a 20-30 minute walk every day can make a difference. It releases chemicals called endorphins into your body, which are a natural antidepressant. Eating well and getting enough sleep can also help.

If something in particular has triggered your depression, try to tackle the cause if you can.

Remember that treatment can take a few weeks to work – try to be patient and allow enough time for it to take effect.


Tips for partners, families and carers


One of the best ways to help a person with depression is to listen to their problems. This can help with tackling the root of their depression or just remind them that people do care about them.

If someone you care about is depressed, encourage them to get help rather than dealing with it by themselves. Don’t make them feel bad about taking medication or seeing a therapist.

Telling someone with depression to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘pull themselves together’ is likely to make things worse. Remember that depression is not just being unhappy, it’s an illness.

Remember that people don’t need to be depressed ‘about’ anything in particular. It can affect anyone, regardless of their situation.

If someone you care about is depressed, it can help just to talk to them or spend time with them. It will make them feel cared about and help take their mind off their depression.

People who are depressed can sometimes be irritable or difficult to deal with. Try to be patient with them.

Look after yourself – if someone close to you is depressed it can be very hard on you too. It’s easy to fall into the same trap and become depressed yourself.

If someone with depression talks about hurting themselves or not wanting to live anymore take it seriously. Encourage them to tell their doctor how they feel.


Myths v/s Facts about Depression




Depression and sadness are the same.

There are important distinctions between depression and sadness. Feelings of sadness do not last as long as a depressive episode, which can potentially persist for weeks, months or even years.

Depression only affects women.

Depression impacts both sexes.

Talking about depression makes it worse.

Talking about depression can help lessen symptoms.

Depression will go away on its own.

Symptoms of depression rarely improve without professional treatment.

Depression is only brought on by a traumatic event.

While depression can be brought on by a traumatic event, it usually results from other causes.

Depression is not a real illness.

Depression is an actual illness with real symptoms and impact. Depression is a mood disorder that impacts a person’s thoughts, emotions and actions.



Reference Links


This website has a dedicated depression section, including details on research, suggested reading and links to medication information.


Information and support along with downloadable leaflets and real people’s stories. Search ‘depression’ from the homepage.


This Wales-based organisation offers information and self help resources for depression, and runs support groups for people suffering with the illness.


Available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.

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