What is Depression?

Depression is more than just common feelings of sadness and can interfere with a person’s daily life and their ability to function normally. Depression involves feeling sad, worthless, and lonely over an extended period of time. Depression can cause pain for those dealing with it and their families. It is estimated that about 7% or 16 million American adults experienced at least one major depressive episode last year. Women are 70% more likely to experience depression than their male counterparts and young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are 60% more likely to suffer from depression than individuals 50 years and older. Depression is caused by a number of factors such as trauma, loss of a loved one, conflict, etc.

The disorder is caused by physical changes in the brain chemistry and can have genetic causes and derive from hormonal changes, stress, grief or be secondary to prescription medication or drugs. Certain medication such as Accutane, interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids can in fact increase a person’s risk for developing depression.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

People affected by this disorder may experience decreased energy and fatigue, problems concentrating, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, irritability, moodiness, restlessness, insomnia or excessive sleeping, difficulty remembering things and making decisions, anger outbursts, trouble remembering, thoughts of suicide, loss of appetite or overeating, feeling hopeless, and loss of interest in pleasurable activities including family, friends, food, favorite activities and sex.

The patient might lose weight and in severe cases experience hallucinations and delusions.

How is Depression Treated?

Treatment depends upon the type of depression and its severity.

Treatment includes

A combination of exercise, psychotherapy, and antidepressant medication.

If standard forms of treatment do not seem to be providing the desired results there is also electroconvulsive therapy which is also referred to as ECT or electroshock therapy.  It takes time and trial and error to find the right combination of medications and therapies that work best for each individual suffering with depression.

Last Reviewed:
September 13, 2016
Last Updated:
September 06, 2017