Heart Disease

Depression

Definition

What is Depression?

Depression is a medical condition characterised by feelings of extreme sadness and dejection. It is not just feeling sad. There are different types and symptoms of depression. Early detection is important, as untreated depression can lead to suicide.

Types of Depression

Different types of depression often have slightly different symptoms. The main types of depression include:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder (used to be called ‘manic depression’)
  • Cyclothymic disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Who does this affect?

One in five women and one in eight men will experience depression at some time in their life. The good news is that just like a physical illness, depression is treatable and effective treatments are available.

Causes

Generally, depression does not result from a single event, but from a mix of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors, which cause chemical imbalances in the brain. These factors might include life events, family history, personality, serious medical illness, and drug and alcohol use.

You can’t always identify the cause of depression or change difficult circumstances. The most important thing is to recognize the symptoms and seek help.

Feelings caused by depression

A person with depression may feel:

  • Overwhelmed
  • Guilty
  • Irritable
  • Frustrated
  • Lacking in confidence
  • Unhappy
  • Indecisive
  • Disappointed

Physical symptoms of depression

A person with depression may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling sick and ‘run down’
  • Headaches and muscle pains
  • Churning gut
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss or change of appetite

Life events and depression

Continuing difficulties – such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, long-term isolation or loneliness, or prolonged stress at work – are more likely to cause depression than recent life stresses. However, recent events (such as losing a job) or a combination of events can trigger depression in people who are already at risk because of past bad experiences or personal factors.

Family history and depression

Depression can run in families, but this doesn’t mean a person will automatically experience depression if a close relative has had the illness. Other factors are still important.

STRATEGIES FOR PREVENTION

Although depression is a highly treatable condition, some forms of depression may not be preventable. That’s because depression may be triggered by a malfunctioning of nerve cell connections in certain brain circuits. However, the latest medical studies confirm that depression may often be alleviated and sometimes prevented with good health habits. Eating a healthydiet, getting regular exercise, and taking time out for fun and relaxation, may work together to prevent a depressed mood.

AWARENESS

Things to remember

  • Depression is a constant feeling of dejection and loss, which stops you doing your normal activities.
  • Different types of depression exist; with symptoms ranging from relatively minor (but disabling) to very severe.
  • Generally, depression does not result from a single event, but from a mix of events and factors, which cause chemical imbalances in the brain.

If you feel depressed, see your doctor for an assessment. Don’t delay. Tackle depression early to address problems quickly and stop symptoms becoming worse.

SUMMARY

Everyone feels sad sometimes, particularly when faced with loss or grief, but depression is more than low mood and sadness at a loss. It is a serious medical condition. It is the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. A person with depression feels extremely sad, dejected and unmotivated.