top-rated free essay

Depression

By JD0722 Apr 22, 2014 762 Words

Depression is a serious mental health concern that will touch most people's lives at some point in their lifetime (either directly or through someone close they know). The suffering endured by people with depression and the lives lost to suicide attest to the great burden of this disorder on individuals, families, and society. Improved recognition, treatment, and prevention of depression are critical public health priorities. Organizations such as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of the world's leading mental health biomedical organizations, conducts and supports research on the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of depression in the United States.

Evidence from neuroscience, genetics, and clinical investigation demonstrate that depression is a disorder of the brain. Modern brain imaging technologies are revealing that in depression, neural circuits responsible for the regulation of moods, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior fail to function properly, and that critical neurotransmitters -- chemicals used by nerve cells to communicate -- are perhaps out of balance. Genetics research indicates that vulnerability to depression results from the influence of multiple genes acting together with environmental factors. Studies of brain chemistry and of mechanisms of action of antidepressant medications continue to inform the development of new and better medical and psychotherapy treatments.

Want to keep up-to-date?
Subscribe to our RSS depression news and research feed
or our depression article RSS feed today.

In the past decade, there have been significant advances in our ability to investigate brain function at multiple levels. The NIMH is collaborating with various scientific disciplines to effectively utilize the tools of molecular and cellular biology, genetics, epidemiology, and cognitive and behavioral science to gain a more thorough and comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence brain function and behavior, including mental illness. This collaboration reflects the Institute's increasing focus on "translational research," whereby basic and clinical scientists are involved in joint efforts to translate discoveries and knowledge into clinically relevant questions and targets of research opportunity. Translational research holds great promise for disentangling the complex causes of depression and other mental disorders and for advancing the development of more effective treatments.

Symptoms and Types of Depression

Symptoms of depression include a persistent sad mood; loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed; significant change in appetite or body weight; difficulty sleeping or oversleeping; physical slowing or agitation; loss of energy; feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt; difficulty thinking or concentrating; and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. A diagnosis of major depressive disorder (or unipolar major depression) is made if an individual has five or more of these symptoms during the same two-week period. Unipolar major depression typically presents in discrete episodes that recur during a person's lifetime.

Bipolar disorder (or manic-depressive illness) is characterized by episodes of major depression as well as episodes of mania -- periods of abnormally and persistently elevated mood or irritability accompanied by at least three of the following symptoms: overly-inflated self-esteem; decreased need for sleep; increased talkativeness; racing thoughts; distractibility; increased goal-directed activity or physical agitation; and excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences. While sharing some of the features of major depression, bipolar disorder is a different illness that is discussed in detail in a separate NIMH publication.

Dysthymic disorder (or dysthymia), a less severe yet typically more chronic form of depression, is diagnosed when depressed mood persists for at least two years in adults (one year in children or adolescents) and is accompanied by at least two other depressive symptoms. Many people with dysthymic disorder also experience major depressive episodes. While unipolar major depression and dysthymia are the primary forms of depression, a variety of other subtypes exist.

In contrast to the normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or passing mood states, depression is extreme and persistent and can interfere significantly with an individual's ability to function. In fact, a recent study sponsored by the World Health Organization and the World Bank found unipolar major depression to be the leading cause of disability in the United States and worldwide.

There is a high degree of variation among people with depression in terms of symptoms, course of illness, and response to treatment, indicating that depression may have a number of complex and interacting causes. This variability poses a major challenge to researchers attempting to understand and treat the disorder. However, recent advances in research technology are bringing NIMH scientists closer than ever before to characterizing the biology and physiology of depression in its different forms and to the possibility of identifying effective treatments for individuals based on symptom presentation.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Adolescent Depression Essay 3

    ...Adolescent Depression Depression is something that I really have had no experience with in my life. Personally, I might have thought about killing myself figuratively at one specific point in my life. I thought about what the consequences would be and how it would effect the people who surround me in my life. As soon as these thoughts rac...

    Read More
  • Depression

    ... Professor Wilson ENG 101 11February 2013 Depression What is depression? Is it something you have experienced before? My assumption is that, people don’t understand this illness if they have never experienced it. If they can’t see it (like the flu or cancer) then they don’t believe it. Most people believe depression is some kind...

    Read More
  • Depression and Hyperhidrosis

    ...Mercado Comparison and Contrast – Depression and Hyperhidrosis Teenage depression is a common problem in today’s society and is often a major factor for numerous teenager problems. Depression is caused by many things, for example, Hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis affects many teenagers which may be a contributing factor to one’s depres...

    Read More
  • Stigma and Depression

    ...problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia and eating disorders • Mental health problems can affect people of all ages, genders and cultures • 1 in 5 Canadians will have a mental health problem during their lifetime • 40-60% of people with a mental health problem also suffer from a substance use...

    Read More
  • Causes of Depression

    ...Causes of Depression Depression is a psychological disorder when the human being has negative thoughts and behaviors due to low mood caused by stress, overwork, or any other events. Among doctors depression is seen as an illness or disorder. When depression occurs, one might also have headache, slow speech, feel pain through entire body, diges...

    Read More
  • Depression Paper

    ...Depression Unipolar depression and bipolar depression both run in the same family of mental disorders. They are however, both very different with unique individualized characteristics. They both do cause a person to experience severe and very debilitating bouts of depression, clinical or major. As stated in the prompt, “many people become dep...

    Read More
  • Causes of Depression

    ... CAUSES OF DEPRESSION Causes of Depression HSP3M Feeling sad, or what we may call "depressed", happens to all of us, but for most of us the sensation usually leaves after a while. However, people with a depressive disorder, such as clinical depression, find that their state interferes with t...

    Read More
  • Progression of Depression

    ...or behavioral functioning, and caused by social, psychological, biochemical, genetic, or other factors, such as infection or head trauma”. Many mental disorders can progress into other disorders. The progression of depression, into bipolar disorder, into schizophrenia is what this paper is going to deal with. There is no known cure for any of ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.