Major depression is a medical illness that is characterized by feeling of sadness, disappointment, and despair. It is a “whole body illness” that involves emotional, physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual problems. Also called major depressive disorder and clinical depression, it affects how a person feels, thinks and behaves. They may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make them feel as if life isn't worth living.
Signs and Symptoms
Depression can change or distort the way someone sees their self, their life, and those around them. People who have depression usually see everything with a more negative attitude, unable to imagine that any problem or situation can be solved in a positive way. Symptoms of depression can include agitation, restlessness, and irritability; dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss; fatigue and lack of energy; feelings of hopelessness and helplessness; feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt; becoming withdrawn or isolated; loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed; thoughts of death or suicide; trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping; reduced sex drive; slowed thinking, speaking or body movements; indecisiveness, distractibility and decreased concentration; crying spells for no apparent reason; and unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches. Depression can appear as anger and discouragement, rather than feelings of sadness. If depression is very severe, there may also be psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions.
Depression symptoms in children and teens can be a little different than they are in adults. In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, hopelessness and worry. Symptoms in adolescents and teens may include anxiety, anger and avoidance of social interaction. Changes in thinking and sleep are common signs of depression in adolescents and adults, but are not as common in younger children. In children and teens, depression often occurs along with behavior problems and other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Depression is not a normal part of growing older, and most seniors feel satisfied with their lives. However, depression can and does occur in older adults. Unfortunately it often goes undiagnosed and untreated. Many adults with depression feel reluctant to seek help when they're feeling down. In older adults, depression may go undiagnosed because symptoms — for example, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems or loss of interest in sex — may seem to be caused by other illnesses. Older adults with depression may say they feel dissatisfied with life in general, bored, helpless or worthless. They may always want to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things. Suicidal thinking or feelings in older adults is a sign of serious depression that should never be taken lightly, especially in men. Of all people with depression, older adult men are at the highest risk of suicide.
Numerous depression treatments are available. Medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy) are very effective for most people. In some cases, a primary care doctor can prescribe medications to relieve depression symptoms. However, many people need to see a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions (psychiatrist). Many people with depression also benefit from seeing a psychologist or other mental health counselor. Usually the most effective treatment for depression is a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Types of antidepressants include: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), Atypical antidepressants, Tricyclic...