Depression? What Causes Depression?
Depression, also known as major depression, clinical depression or major
depressive disorder is a medical illness that causes a constant feeling
of sadness and lack of interest. Depression affects how the person
feels, behaves and thinks.
Depression can lead to emotional and physical problems. 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.
Feeling sad, or what we may call "depressed", happens to all of us. The
sensation usually passes after a while. However, people with a
depressive disorder - clinical depression - find that their state
interferes with daily life. Their normal functioning is undermined to
such an extent that both they and those who care about them are affected
What are the different forms of depression? There are
several forms of depression (depressive disorders). Major depressive
disorder and dysthymia disorder are the most common.
Major depressive disorder (major depression)
Major depressive disorder is also known as major depression. The patient
suffers from a combination of symptoms that undermine his ability to
sleep, study, work, eat, and enjoy activities he used to find
pleasurable. Experts say that major depressive disorder can be very
disabling, preventing the patient from functioning normally. Some people
experience only one episode, while others have recurrences.
Dysthymic disorder (dysthymia)
Dysthymic disorder is also known as dysthymia, or mild chronic
depression. The patient will suffer symptoms for a long time, perhaps as
long as a couple of years, and often longer. However, the symptoms are
not as severe as in major depression, and the patient is not disabled by
it. However, he may find it hard to function normally and feel well.
Some people experience only one episode during their lifetime, while
others may have recurrences.
A person with dysthymia might also experience major depression, once,
twice, or more often during his lifetime. Dysthymia can sometimes come
with other symptoms. When they do, it is possible that other forms of
depression are diagnosed.
When severe depressive illness includes hallucinations, delusions,
and/or withdrawing from reality, the patient may be diagnosed with
Postpartum depression (postnatal
Postpartum depression is also known as postnatal depression or PND. This
is not to be confused with 'baby blues' which a mother may feel for a
very short period after giving birth. If a mother develops a major
depressive episode within a few weeks of giving birth it is most likely
she has developed PND. Experts believe that about 10% to 15% of all
women experience PND after giving birth. Sadly, many of them go
undiagnosed and suffer for long periods without treatment and support.
SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
SAD is much more common the further from the equator you go. In
countries far from the equator the end of summer means the beginning of
less sunlight and more dark hours. A person who develops a depressive
illness during the winter months might have SAD. The symptoms go away
during spring and/or summer. In Scandinavia, where winter can be very
dark for many months, patients commonly undergo light therapy - they sit
in front of a special light. Light therapy works for about half of all
SAD patients. In addition to light therapy, some people may need
antidepressants, psychotherapy, or both. Light therapy is becoming more
popular in other northern countries, such as Canada and the United
Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive
Bipolar disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness. It used to
be known as manic depression. It is not as common as major depression or
dysthymia. A patient with bipolar disorder experiences moments of
extreme highs and extreme lows. These extremes are known as manias.