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What is Depression?
Transcript of What is Depression?
Depression (Clinical depression or major depressive disorder) is a medical illness that causes a constant feeling of sadness and lack of interest.
It affects how the person feels, behaves and thinks.
For people with clinical depression, their normal functioning is undermined to such an extent that both they and those who care about them are affected by it.
Symptoms of depression?
There is a set of symptoms that are associated with depression and help to clarify the diagnosis. These are:
Typically, people with depression find it hard to go about their day-to-day activities, and may also feel that life is not worth living.
What is Depression?
About 5 in 100 adults have depression every year.
Who gets depression?
Core (key) symptoms. Persistent sadness or low mood. This may be with or without weepiness. Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities, even for activities that you normally enjoy.
Other common symptoms
Disturbed sleep compared with your usual pattern. This may be difficulty in getting off to sleep, or waking early and being unable to get back to sleep. Sometimes it is sleeping too much.
Change in appetite. This is often a poor appetite and weight loss. Sometimes the reverse happens with comfort eating and weight gain.
Tiredness (fatigue) or loss of energy.
Agitation or slowing of movements.
Poor concentration or indecisiveness. For example, you may find it difficult to read, work, etc. Even simple tasks can seem difficult.
Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
Recurrent thoughts of death. This is not usually a fear of death, more a preoccupation with death and dying. For some people despairing thoughts such as "life's not worth living" or "I don't care if I don't wake up" are common. Sometimes these thoughts progress into thoughts and even plans for suicide.
An episode of depression is usually diagnosed if:
You have at least five out of the nine symptoms, with at least one of these a core symptom; and:
Symptoms cause you distress or impair your normal functioning, such as affecting your work performance.
Symptoms occur most of the time on most days and have lasted at least two weeks.
The symptoms are not due to a medication side-effect, or to drug or alcohol misuse, or to a physical condition such as an underactive thyroid or pituitary gland. (However, see section later on depression and physical conditions.)
The severity of depression can vary from person to person. Severity is generally divided as follows:
Severe depression - you would normally have most or all of the nine symptoms listed above. Also, symptoms markedly interfere with your normal functioning.
Moderate depression - you would normally have more than the five symptoms that are needed to make the diagnosis of depression. Your functioning is between mild and severe.
Mild depression - you would normally have five of the symptoms that are required to make the diagnosis of depression. However, you are not likely to have more than five or six of the symptoms. Also, your normal functioning is only mildly impaired.
Subthreshold depression - you have fewer than the five symptoms needed to make a diagnosis of depression. So, it is not classed as depression. But, the symptoms you do have are troublesome and cause distress. If this situation persists for more than two years it is sometimes called dysthymia.
Severity of depression
Depression - Signs and Symptoms
The exact cause is not known. Anyone can develop depression.
Some people are more prone to it and it can develop for no apparent reason.
Genetic factor involved that makes some people more prone than others to depression.
Life event such as a relationship problem, bereavement, redundancy, illness, etc. In many people it is a mixture of the two. For example, the combination of a mild low mood with some life problem, such as work stress, may lead to a spiral down into depression.
Women tend to develop depression more often than men. Particularly common times for women to become depressed are after childbirth (postnatal depression) and the menopause.
What causes depression?