Sadness, feeling down, having a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities – these are symptoms familiar to all of us. But, if they persist and affect our life substantially, it may be depression.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of depression can include:
Reduced interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, loss of sexual desire
Unintentional weight loss (without dieting) or low appetite
Insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
Psychomotor agitation, for example, restlessness, pacing up and down
Delayed psychomotor skills, for example, slowed movement and speech
Fatigue or loss of energy
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Impaired ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or attempt at suicide
The causes of depression are not fully understood and may not be down to a single source. Depression is likely to be due to a complex combination of factors that include:
biological – changes in neurotransmitter levels
psychological and social (psychosocial)
Some people are at higher risk of depression than others; risk factors include:
Life events: These include bereavement, divorce, work issues, relationships with friends and family, financial problems, medical concerns, or acute stress.
Personality: Those with less successful coping strategies or previous life trauma are more susceptible.
Genetic factors: Having first-degree relatives with depression increases the risk.
Some prescription drugs: These include corticosteroids, some beta-blockers, interferon, and other prescription drugs.
Abuse of recreational drugs: Abuse of alcohol, amphetamines, and other drugs are strongly linked to depression.
A past head injury.
Chronic pain syndromes: These and other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease make depression more likely.
Depression is a treatable mental illness. There are three components to the management of depression:
Support, ranging from discussing practical solutions and contributing stresses, to educating family members.
Psychotherapy, also known as talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).