Depression is a mood disorder that affects your way of thinking, feeling, and acting on a daily basis. Unlike normal mood fluctuations, depression symptoms are more intense and typically last for an extended period (several weeks, months, or even years).
Depression is characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities, which result in an inability to carry out daily activities for at least two weeks.
Symptoms of Depression
The depressive disorder, or depression, can manifest through a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. Not all individuals with depression may experience the same symptoms, but here are some common signs and symptoms:
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness: This is often the most identifiable symptom. Individuals with depression may feel sad, empty, or hopeless for long periods.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usually enjoyed activities: This may include hobbies, sports, social activities, sexual relations, etc.
- Changes in appetite or weight: Some individuals may lose appetite and weight, while others may eat more than usual and gain weight.
- Sleep disturbances: Depressed individuals may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep (insomnia), or may sleep much more than usual (hypersomnia).
- Fatigue or lack of energy: Even small tasks may seem demanding and tiring.
- Neglectfulness: A lack of care and hygiene, related to fatigue, lack of energy, and loss of interest.
- Feelings of guilt or low self-esteem: Depressed individuals may harshly criticize themselves and feel guilty about things that are not their fault.
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions: They may struggle to focus, make decisions, or remember information.
- Thoughts of death or suicide: Some depressed individuals may think about death or suicide, or attempt suicide.
- Physical discomfort: Some individuals may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, or other bodily pains without apparent physical cause.
The possible causes of depression
There is no single cause for depression. Often, it’s a combination of genetic, chemical, environmental, and psychological factors. For example:
- Chemical imbalances in the brain
- Traumatic or stressful experiences
- Genetic factors or family history
- Chronic illnesses or medications
The treatment of depression
Depression is often treated with a combination of medications (such as antidepressants) and psychotherapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy). Treatments are typically tailored to the individual needs of the person.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, it’s important to seek help from mental health professionals. If suicidal thoughts are present, it’s crucial to immediately contact emergency services.