Depression, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration. There are several forms of depression with Major Depressive Disorder being the most common. Major Depression Disorder is marked by severe symptoms that interfere with daily living. The DSM-V defines this form of depression as the following:
What is Depression?
Major Depression is marked by severe symptoms (as stated above) that interfere with daily living. It is defined by the DSM-V (one of my favorite reference books), as requiring two or more major depressive episodes as well as depressed moods and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least two weeks and at least five of the following symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, work, or other critical areas of functioning almost every day.
- Five or more of the following symptoms being present almost every day
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain
- Insomnia nearly every day
- Persistent sadness, anxiety, or feeling empty
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Less energy and increase tiredness
- Feeling restless
- Increased issues with concentration, remembering, making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Causes of Depression & Those At Risk
The cause of depression is a combination of different things such as genetics, biological factors, environmental factors, and psychological factors. Depression could be a familial trait (such as parents or siblings with depression), situational (being homeless, unable to pay the bills, etc.), some major trauma (such as a significant illness, or death in the family), and stress. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) have shown that brains with depression look different from those without depression (areas of the brain that involve mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior appear different). Woman seem to be 70% more likely than men to develop depression, and black women are 40% less like than whites to develop it. The average age of depression onset is 32, but 3.3% of teenagers’ aged 13-18 have debilitating depression.
Depression is a debilitating mental illness that causes life changing symptoms that goes by many forms and names. Early identification is essential to treatment and recovery. In the next entry, we will talk about the various forms of treatment and recovery.
If you think you might be suffering from depression and need additional resources, please check the following links: