What is depression?

Depression is a common mood disorder that can affect every aspect of our lives. Depression can have a profound effect on our thinking, feeling and behavior. This can impact our ability and ability to function in a relationship. Depression is not just sadness. Life events can make it difficult to feel happy. trigger depressionHowever, there is a clinical distinction made between diagnosable depression and temporary negative feelings. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health an estimated 14.8 million US adults experienced at least one Major depressive disorder with severe impairment for 2020. As it turns out, the true number of people suffering from clinical depression could be higher than this. 60% of people don’t seek medical treatment for depression.

How do you distinguish between grief and depression? This topic can quickly become complicated, with many nuances that can make obtaining help difficult. This all-in-one guide will discuss the causes, subsets, and treatment options of depression. 

What are the risk factors and causes of depression?

There is no one cause of depression. There are many risk factors that can lead to clinical depression. If there are many risk factors, the chances of developing depression increase. 

  • Genetics: According to the study, people with a history of depression in their family are more likely to develop it. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5. 
  • Environmental factors: Past trauma or abuse These triggers can lead to depression. Stressors and major life events can also trigger depression. These events could include the death of a loved person, financial difficulties, caregiver burden, or interpersonal difficulties. 
  • Brain neurotransmitter disruptionThe biochemical factors that cause depression are not fully understood. Experts believe that another possible cause of depression could be a disruption in the brain. neurotransmitters The brain contains neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are what brain nerve cells use to communicate with one another. Each neurotransmitter has a different message. Dopamine and serotonin play a part in mood regulation. Norepinephrine plays a role in the fight-or flight response.
  • Abuse of alcohol and other drugs: One study found that anywhere between 12% to 80% A lot of people with substance problems also suffer from depression. 
  • Medical conditionsDepression is often associated with other conditions medication conditions. Depression can also be caused by medications or other limitations.

Additionally, women are more likely According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women are more likely than men to develop depression. However, this disparity in depression rates may partly be due to differences in reporting. A 2021 study concluded: females are more likely to report symptoms Males are more likely to experience depression than females. A National Health and Nutrition Study found that 5.5% of men report symptoms10.4% of women do. This study was based solely on self-reported data. To fully understand the differences, more research is required. 

There are also racial differences among depression rates. Black Americans are more likely to experience acute depression at the beginning than white Americans. 56% of Black Americans experience chronic depression 38.6% of white people are more than that. Treatment rates are also lower BIPOC people may be affected by stigma and lack access to treatment. 

There are many triggers that can lead to depression in addition to the risk factors. Common triggers for depression These include, but are not limited:

  • Stressful life events, such as the loss or resignation of a family member, a job loss, or significant changes in a relationship, can cause anxiety.
  • A diagnosis of a medical condition
  • Previous treatments for depression were ineffective 

Continue reading: 5 Online Therapy Services to Fight Depression and Anxiety

Depression signs and symptoms

Risk factors can be anything. Depression is not something you can be born with or caused by a medical condition. It can be difficult to tell the difference between sadness and something more serious. These are the signs and symptoms that can help you recognize depression. Noting that symptoms can vary, they can range from mildly severe to severe. Each person’s experience of depression will be different. There is no universal definition. But there are some common themes.

Here are some common signs and symptoms of depression:

  • Unusual levels of irritability and anger
  • Concentration difficulties 
  • Loss interest in activities that you once enjoyed 
  • Feelings of sadness and low moods that last for a long time
  • Sleep troubles — both insomnia Sleeping too much 
  • Feelings of fatigue and lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm

For clinical depression to be diagnosed, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks. least two weeks They can interfere with your ability to function in your daily activities. According to DSM-5, major depression disorder is defined as: five of the nine main clinical symptoms of depression They are often experienced. The duration of symptoms can vary from a few days to several months to years. 

It is important to note that depression symptoms can overlap with other conditions like vitamin deficiencies and thyroid issues. Therefore, it is essential to seek medical attention to confirm a diagnosis. Depression symptoms can include: also overlap with other conditions Like anemia, infection or sleep disorders, neurological disorders, and side effects from medications.

Woman looking out to window into her reflection.

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What are the various types of depression?

There are many types of depression. The specific circumstances and experiences you have will determine which type of depression you develop.

  • Major depressive disorderMDD is characterized by a persistent depressive mood, loss of interest and pleasure in pleasurable activities as well as difficulty concentrating, lack energy, appetite disturbances, sleep disturbances, feelings guilt or worthlessness, psychomotor anxiety or suicidal thoughts. To be considered major depressive disorder, they must last at least two weeks and interfere with your ability to function.
  • Persistent depressive disorder Dysthymia: This type of depression is less severe and lasts for longer periods. Persistent depressive disorder is generally defined as a two-year minimum. An estimated 3% of people Dysthymia. 
  • Perinatal and postpartum depressionThese types are common during pregnancy and hormone changes. Perinatal depression This is both during pregnancy and after giving birth. Perinatal depression can lead to mood changes and anxiety in mothers. They may withdraw from their baby and family. Between 6.5% and 20% of women develop postpartum depression. 
  • Seasonal affective disorder: As the title suggests, seasonal affective disorder The seasons can affect how you feel. It’s more common to feel depression in the fall and winter because the days are shorter. But it can also vary.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorderPMDD is a cyclical pattern that occurs a week before menstruation. It usually disappears once menstruation begins. Most women don’t experience symptoms that interfere with their daily lives. However, 5% to 8% of women They may experience moderate to severe symptoms that interfere with their ability to function.
  • Psychotic depressionPsychiatric depression is a type of major depressive disorder that can cause paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. 

How can depression be treated? 

There is no cure for depression. It is a chronic disorder that can be treated, but it can also be a permanent condition. 90% of people eventually Responding to treatment. Remission is possible with ongoing treatment. Relapses do happen. 

It is important to feel comfortable with your treatment plan, and to feel empowered to advocate for yourself if things aren’t working. Depression treatment is a marathon and not a sprint. Your life will change, so you should expect that treatment will evolve and change. Even severe depression is treatable. It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. 


Psychotherapy, also known by the name talk therapy, is one of many treatment options for mild depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy This is a great way to deal with depression. CBT is built on the concept You are responsible for what you think, feel, and do. CBT can help you recognize negative thinking, and change how you see and interpret situations. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be offered individually or in conjunction with family members and/or partners. 

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In severe cases of depression, medication may be used along with therapy. Antidepressants are a very effective way to manage depression symptoms. They redirect how the brain uses neurotransmitters essential to the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These are the brain’s main sources of dopamine and norepinephrine. chemical messengers to pass signals between nerve cells. Signals can’t be transmitted correctly if there is an imbalance. Antidepressants increase brain’s availability. This is how it works done varies by medication

The most commonly used antidepressants are:

  • Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors
  • Selective serotonin noradrenaline receptor reuptake inhibitors
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (the least likely to be prescribed).

Between six and eight weeks 40% and 60% of people Antidepressants can make depression less severe for those who are suffering from moderate to severe depression. 

There are many different medications available for depression. It is normal for it to take time before you find the right medication for you. It takes time. takes four to eight weeks The effects of the antidepressant may not be felt fully until your symptoms start to diminish. It is important to continue taking your medication until you talk with your doctor. Withdrawal and recurrence of symptoms can be caused by stopping medications without a doctor’s recommendation.

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy This is a form electrical brain stimulation therapy. It isn’t the first treatment option for people with depression. it’s effective at treating severe major depression if the patient is not responding to treatment or medication, or in situations where immediate action is required. It is painless and safe thanks to the advancements in ECT techniques and practices. 

ECT is a medical procedure which is performed while the patient is asleep. It is often done as an outpatient procedure. Sessions are usually done in one session. two to three times each weekIt should last for approximately two to four week. Side effects of ECT include memory impairment, confusion, and disorientation. In most cases, side effects are not long-lasting. However, memory problems can last for months. 

Repetitive transcranial magnet stimulation

rTMS If the patient is unable to respond to medication, this procedure can be used. It is a popular outpatient brain stimulation treatment. rTMS uses magnets to stimulate specific areas of the brain. This allows it to have only mild side effects. It’s a noninvasive procedure, which doesn’t require any anesthesia like ECT. 

Tips to manage depression symptoms 

There is no cure or way to prevent depression. There are things you can do to manage depression symptoms in your everyday life. 

  • Self-care is important.Whether you want to take a bubble bath, or meditate, self-care is crucial To manage depression Find time for things Accept and enjoy when you are in stressful situations. 
  • Set realistic goalsYou can live with depression. must set realistic goals. This will prevent things from getting too overwhelming. Break down the tasks into manageable pieces to achieve your goals. 
  • Exercise regularlyDepression can sometimes make it difficult to get motivated to do anything, especially exercise. However, exercise can help you to be more motivated. energy levels and improve your moods. For those suffering from depression, rhythmic exercises such as walking, swimming, and weight training can be great options. 
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep problems Depression and mood symptoms are often exacerbated by sleeping disorders. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will suffer from depression if you have a sleeping disorder. You can still have good sleep habits and get the rest and recovery your body needs. 
  • Take care of your healthHow you feel about alcohol, caffeine, and fatty foods is directly related to how you feel. You can reduce the impact of foods on your mood and brain by being mindful of what you are eating. 
  • Ask for and accept assistanceRecognizing depression symptoms early is an integral part of managing it. Asking for help is a crucial part of this process. It doesn’t matter whether you’re asking your family for help, or setting boundaries with friends, it is important to establish communication about your experiences. 

Continue reading: Best Mental Health Apps 

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When is it appropriate to seek help for depression?

Depression is a common and easily treatable mood disorder. Therapy is an option. It is important to make lifestyle changes and manage daily symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapies can help you to identify and target negative thinking, so you can make sure it doesn’t affect your perception and response to situations. Many times, medication like antidepressants is necessary to stabilize moods and relieve symptoms. They target neurotransmitters in your brain.

It can be daunting to seek help at first. It doesn’t have it to be. Your primary care doctor is a great place to start, as they can recommend psychologists to you through your insurance network.

Continue reading: Tips to Find the Right Therapist For You

Online therapy is often more effective than in-person therapy. flexible and affordable If you prefer traditional in-office therapy It may not be the best option for your needs. But, make sure you choose an option like Cerebral Or Talkspace, which allows doctors and pharmacists to prescribe medication. Other options include BetterHelp It is not possible to prescribe medications.

Resources for Depression

Continue reading: Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Which Online Therapy Is Better?

The information in this article is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. Any questions you might have regarding a medical condition or your health objectives should be directed to a qualified physician.

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