What Causes Depression?
While not fully understood many current theories suggests that depression may result from complex interactions between brain chemicals and hormones that influence a person's energy level, feelings, sleeping and eating habits. These interactions may be linked to many complex causes; family history of illness, biochemical and psychologicalpredisposition, prolonged periods of stress, and traumatic life event such as moving, graduation, job change, retirement. Many times it is impossible to pick out a single event that triggers the episode although research has found that people who suffer from clinical depression have changes in brain chemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine.
Symptoms of Clinical Depression:
There are nine symptoms that doctors look for when they examine their patients for clinical depression. A diagnosis is made if a person has five or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks or there is considerable impairment in normal functioning:
- Feelings of sadness or irritability
- Less interest or pleasure in almost all activities one enjoyed
- Changes of weight or appetite
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
- Inability to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Restlessness or severe lack of energy
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Different Types of Depression:
Depression may differ greatly from person to person, both in its severity and duration. Some people suffer only one episode of clinical depression during their lifetime, while others experience recurring episodes.
Major Depression or sometimes referred to as unipolar 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. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Some people may experience only a single episode within their lifetime, but more often a person may have multiple episodes.
Dysthymic disorder or dysthymia, is a less severe form of major depression persiting for over 2 years
Minor depression is characterized by having symptoms for 2 weeks or longer that do not meet full criteria for major depression.
Psychotic depression which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as delusions or hallucinations.
Postpartum depression whichmany women experience after giving birth as hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibilities may be overwhelming.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight.
Manic Depression--also called "bipolar" depression is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. This illness causes alternate cycles of mania to extreme lows. During a manic phase some or all of the following symptoms often appear:
- Increased energy and decreased need for sleep
- Inappropriate excitement or irritability
- Increased talking or moving
- Promiscuous sexual behavior
- Disconnection and racing thoughts
- Impulsive behavior and poor judgement, such as spending sprees
General Depression Related Web Sites
Articles, a weekly newsletter, support chats and forums, a depression screening quiz, links to resources, and drug information.
A comprehensive source of information, help, and support for people who have depression or are depressed.
Depression Related Treatment Sites
NIMH - Depression
Offers booklets and fact sheets for consumers and researchers. Listing of clinical trials and funding opportunities.
APA Help Center
Provides information on coping with problems, the mind-body connection, mental health conditions, therapy and how to find a psychologist.
University of Michigan Depression Center
The University of Michigan Depression Center working to develop, disseminate, and advance science, education, treatment and prevention strategies for clinical depression.
Support Groups for Depression
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Free information on depression and bipolar disorder as well as listings to over 1000 patient support groups acrosst the country.
Organization for Bipolar Affective Disorders Society
Bipolar disorder and depression support group.
Families for Depression Awareness
Helps families and caregivers understand and cope with depression.
The Mood Disorders Support Group of New York City
A non profit, self-help organization serving both individuals with depression and manic-depression (bipolar disorder), as well as their families and friends.
Major Depression Talk
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