What is Depression?
Major depressive disorder, or major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person's ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities (www.nimh.nih.gov, 2014).
Episodes of depression often follow stressful events such as marital problems or the death of a loved one. The exact causes of depression still are not clear. What we do know is that both genetics and a stressful environment, or life situation, contribute to its cause or sudden onset.
Some of the signs and symptoms according to the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5, include the following:
- Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
- Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
- Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
- Pessimism, indifference
- Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
- Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Different Kinds of Depression
There are many names for the different types of depression. Depression often co-exists with other mental or physical illnesses. Substance abuse, anxiety disorders and eating disorders are particularly common conditions that may be worsened by depression, and it is important that the depression and each co-occurring illness be appropriately diagnosed and treated. Substance use disorders (abuse or dependence) also frequently co-occur with depression.
Children / Adolescents
Depression may have a slightly different set of symptoms when a child or teen has it. Children and adolescents may be more likely to have symptoms like unexplained aches and pains, irritability and social withdrawal. On the other hand, symptoms more likely to affect adults include slowed speech and activity, sleeping too much and believing things that aren’t true (delusions).
Depression is not a normal part of growing older. Older adults may be going through changes such as children moving away, illness, moving to assisted living facilities or the death of loved ones. All of these things can cause feelings of sadness or grief. But when feelings of sadness last for a significant length of time and keep older adults from enjoying life the way they used to, it may be a sign that they should seek treatment.
If you're interested in attending a support group to learn more about depression and to talk to other people with similar experiences, please