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Getting to Know Depression

Laurika Nxumalo is a freelance academic research writer. She writes on a wide range of topics.

What is Depression?

Depression is a severe condition that is often misunderstood. It is known as a mental condition that makes individuals feel empty or sad for a long duration. The condition also negatively affects a person`s physical health and thinking patterns. In other situations, depression can cause an individual to contemplate on committing suicide.

What Causes Depression?

A situation or a person`s body can be the cause of depression, in certain cases a combination of the two can cause the condition. The majority of mental health specialists concur that a chemical imbalance in the brain has a major role to play in the cause of depression. Serotonin and dopamine are chemicals in the brain; the chemicals impact a person`s ability to feel happy and healthy. Depression can be triggered if the human brain is unable to produce adequate amounts of serotonin and dopamine, or if the brain cannot process the chemicals properly.

Just as brain interactions can have an impact on an individual`s life, life can alter the brain`s functionality. Any traumatic or stressful event can trigger depression. The usual triggers include domestic violence, bullying, social isolation, chronic illness, grief, financial instability, and divorce. Depression should not be confused with grief. It is normal to go through grief after losing a loved one, and it typically goes away after some time. Grief is limited to thoughts of guilt or sadness over the death of a loved one but the symptoms of depression are abrupt.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of depression differ from one individual to the other. A person`s age, culture, or gender may have an impact on how he or she experiences depression. The following symptoms are the common indicators of depression:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in weight or eating habits
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty enjoying activities one used to like
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Frequent crying and bouts of sadness
  • Getting too much or too little sleep
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Unexplained physical ailments such as headaches or muscle pain

A person who suffers from or is living with depression often has difficulties dealing with day-to-day activities. Sometimes simple things such as waking up, taking a shower, and getting dressed can become unbearable for those suffering from depression. Such daily struggles make a person feel alone or helpless. Even when a person is supposed to feel happy, when they live with or suffer from depression, they are always under a cloud of negative thoughts.

People who suffer from depression often experience feelings of shame or anger, and sometimes they feel irritated. Sometimes such emotions present themselves as body aches or as nausea, and other times it leads to weepiness. In some instances, depression numbs a person emotionally, and in severe cases, the individual may care less about living or dying. Low energy levels are also common in people who suffer from depression.

Subtypes of Depression

The following are main eight subtypes of depression:

Depression linked to another medical disorder: The physiological effects of certain medical disorders can cause depression

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD): Children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 18 are the ones who are generally diagnosed with DMDD. A child with DMDD will regularly throw anger tantrums that are inappropriate for his or her situation or age

Major depression: This is type is most common. Its symptoms are often serious and disturb a person`s day-to-day life

Other specified depressive disorders: Such a diagnosis is applicable when a person presents with depressive signs, but them not qualifying any other kind of depression. The person`s might have experienced a depressive episode for short period or he or she might not have sufficient symptoms. Clinicians are the ones who can give reasons why the disorder is uncategorized.

Dysthymia or persistent depression: A state of depression that continues for more than two years.

Premenstrual dysphoria: The symptoms make an appearance a week before the individual goes on her periods they become less aggressive after the menstruation cycle.

Medication or substance induced depression: A state of depression that arises during or immediately after an individual is exposed to certain drugs or medication. The depression can also arise in the course of withdrawal.

Unspecified depression: A clinician will come up with such a diagnosis if the depressive signs are not enough to make a full diagnosis of a certain type of depression; however, the clinician will not stipulate why. Usually a clinician will be unable to make a clear diagnosis if, for instance the patient needs to be attended to immediately.

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The following are the prognosis and clinical features of different types of depression:

Anxious distress: including restlessness and worry

Atypical features: such as hypersomnia, weight gain, and mood reactivity

Catatonia: lack of movement or strange movements

Melancholic features: such as excessive guilt, weight loss, and loss of pleasure

Mixed features: such as inflated self-esteem and increased energy

Peripartum onset: when signs and symptoms appear throughout or instantly after birth

Psychotic features: such as hallucinations and delusions

Seasonal pattern: episodes happen at a particular time of year

Curing Depression

Depression is not curable but it is treatable with a combination of prescribed medication and talk therapy. A person must take their medication as prescribed and staying away from alcohol is advisable.

One other thing, a person who suffers from depression should indulge in self-care to manage the depression and to prevent the recurrence symptoms. Adequate rest and sleep can affect the health of both your body and mind. A balanced diet that has the necessary minerals and vitamins is also vital for good health. Frequent exercise is also good since it helps the brain to secrete serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone.

Final Words...

The more people know about depression the better they will able to take care of those who suffer from the disorder. It is also important to know what signs and symptoms to look out for if a person suspects that they or someone they know might be suffering from depression

© 2021 Laurika Nxumalo


Laurika Nxumalo (author) from Pretoria, South Africa on February 06, 2021:

It's a pleasure Kathy

Kathy Henderson from Pa on January 30, 2021:


Depression quite a widespread issue, especially in our current pandemic climate. I just heard of another young person succumbing to the battle. Your article is a wonderful overview worth sharing with those who need a better understanding. More conversations will save lives!

Thank you for starting the conversations.

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