What is Depression?

Clinical depression is a physical disorder that goes beyond sadness or “the blues,” and actually alters the body’s brain chemicals.  It is an extreme, long-term disruption of the normal emotional state.  Depression affects a person physically as well as emotionally.

 

Depression is a real disease.  The person who is depressed will not just snap out of it, and the condition will not go away on its own.  People who show five or more symptoms nearly every day over a two-week period are diagnosed with major depression.  Symptoms include sad mood, changes in weight or appetite, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, change in sleeping patterns, difficulty in thinking or focusing, thoughts of suicide, lack of energy, feeling that the future is grim, and guilt.

 

Adjustment disorder happens after a stressful event such as a death, loss of job, major illness, or breakup of a marriage and usually lasts for only several months.  If the symptoms do not go away after several months, it may be major depression.

 

Bipolar disorder is a form of depression that involves periods of intense highs, or mania, followed by intense lows or depression.  During a low, the person shows symptoms of depression.  During a manic phase, the person will feel agitated, extremely happy, irritable or energized.  A person may talk constantly or sleep little during this phase.  Some people spend months at a time in one phase or the other, while other people may swing back and forth between highs and lows.

 

Research indicates depression is linked to an imbalance of neurotransmitters, which are chemical parts that enable brain cells to communicate with each other.  There may be a specific event that triggers the depression, or it may develop at a time when everything seems to be going well.  In some cases, there is no apparent cause.

 

To learn more about Depression, please contact the National Mental Health Association at 800-969-6642.  You can also visit them online at www.nmha.org.

 

Phone code: 1746

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