Source: Yahoo Health
Depression is a mental health illness that affects one in 10 Americans.More than just feeling down, clinical depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that don’t go away on their own. It is essential to recognize that feeling down on occasion is a normal – and important – part of life. Sad and distressful events occur in everyone’s life, and responding to them emotionally is healthy. However, feeling miserable consistently and without any sense of hope is not normal, and should be treated as a serious medical condition.
People experience depression in different ways. It can often interfere with a person’s daily responsibilities and relationships. Left untreated, the condition may last for months or years and often becomes worse. However, depression is a treatable medical condition, and those who seek treatment often see improvements in their symptoms.
Causes of depression
Depression is considered a type of mood disorder in which the neurotransmitters — chemical messengers that help the brain and other parts of the body communicate — appear to be out of balance. These chemicals, including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, help regulate many physiological functions. Experts believe that lower levels of these neurotransmitters may play a role in why some people are more susceptible to depression.
Depression can occur in people with no family history of the disease. However, there does appear to be some genetic link to depression. Having an immediate family member with depression can increase your risk. Studies of identical twins who were raised in separate homes showed that when one twin was diagnosed with depression, the other twin developed the same disorder 67 percent of the time
The brain is highly malleable and constantly changing in response to its experiences. That’s in part why scientists believe depression is a product of both our genes and our environment. Traumatic life events, such as the loss of a loved one, distressing financial situations, or big changes like a move can all potentially trigger symptoms of depression.
Feelings of sadness, loneliness, or depression are common reactions to disappointment or loss. But feeling depressed more often than not and for weeks at a time is not normal. This is a sign that it’s time to seek professional help. Depression does not look the same in everyone because symptoms of depression can vary greatly from person to person. Some common symptoms of depression include:
Sadness-The most common symptom of major depression is a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness that lasts for more than two weeks. In the case of dysthymia, sadness lasts over two years.
Worthlessness-Continual feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or helplessness often accompany depression. People with depression tend to focus on personal shortcomings or past failures and blame themselves when things aren’t going the way they’d like.
Irritability-People with depression may get frustrated or easily angered—even over seemingly small or meaningless matters.
Fatigue-Having a lack of energy or feeling tired all the time is common in people with depression. Small tasks, such as showering or getting out of bed, may feel like they require more effort than one can manage.
Crying Spells-People suffering from depression may find themselves crying frequently for no apparent reason.
Apathy-People with depression commonly experience a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that they used to enjoy, including sex.
Restlessness-Agitation and restlessness, including pacing, an inability to sit still, or hand wringing, may occur with depression.
Lack of Concentration-When depressed, people may have a difficult time remembering things, focusing their attention, or making decisions.
Withdrawal-Many people shut themselves off from the world when they’re depressed. They may isolate themselves, not answer the phone, or refuse to go out with friends.
Sleep Problems-People’s sleep habits are likely to change when they’re depressed. They may not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep, or they may wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back asleep. Other people may find that they sleep all of the time and don’t want to get out of bed.
Overeating or Loss of Appetite-Depression can often cause a lack of interest in food and weight loss. But in some people, depression might make them eat more and gain weight.
Thoughts of Suicide-Thinking or fantasizing about death is a serious sign of depression that needs to be addressed right away.
Physical Pain-Depression can also cause physical symptoms such as body pain, headaches, cramps, and digestive problems.