About 21 million people suffer from depression. Depression affects the way one feels about themselves. It involves the body, mood and thoughts. If a person is depressed it can affect the way they sleep and eat. Having depression is not the same as feeling blue temporarily. Despite of what some people think it is not a sign of weakness either. If a person with depression doesn't get any treatment then it can last for weeks, months or even years. Treatment can help most people overcome depression.
There are different types of depression. The three most common types are major depression, dysthymia and bipolar disorder. Major depression is a combination of symptoms. Having major depression will affect your everyday life such as working, sleeping and eating. Dysthymia is a less severe form of depression. It involve long-term chromic symptoms, however they are not disabling like major depression. It will keep them from feeling good. People with dysthymia can suffer from an episode of major depression.
Bipolar disorder is sometimes called manic-depressive disorder. Bipolar is characterized by cycling mood changes. Severe highs are called mania or manic. And lows are depression. Sometimes the cycle changes are dramatic and rapid. Most of the time the cycle is gradual. When in the depression cycle, a person can get most symptoms of major depression. When they cycle to mania, they will often have lots of energy, be very talkative and overactive. Mania can affect judgment and social behavior. This may cause serious problems and lead to embarrassment. If the mania is untreated it can worsen to a psychotic state.
Depression can be inherited. It often runs in families. The question is, is it inherited genetically or learned behavior. Depression can occur in somebody who has no family. Bipolar studies have shown that families, whose members of each generation develop bipolar, that those with illness have a different genetic makeup than those who do not become ill with the disorder. Whether the depression disorder is inherited or not, depression is associated with the changes in the brain structure and or brain function.
Women have been known to experience depression more often that men. For women many hormonal factors contribute to the higher rate of depression. Especially during menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, post partum and menopause. Also environmental stress factors such as single parenthood, caring for children and aging parents.
Men are less likely to develop depression, however men are more likely to deny that they are depressed and unfortunately doctors are less likely to suspect it. The rate of suicide is higher in men, but more women attempt suicide. The rate of suicide increases in men around the age of 70 and peaks after the age of 85. Depression in men may often be masked by the use of alcohol or drugs. They may work extremely long hours. If a man realizes he is in depression he is more unlikely to seek help for treatment.
Some symptoms of depression are sad, anxious, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, pessimism, loss of interest in pleasurable hobbies, fatigue, hard time concentrating, insomnia or oversleeping, weight gain or loss, thoughts of suicide and persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, like headaches, chronic pain, and digestive disorders.
Here are some examples of mania; excessive happiness, unusual irritability, lack of need for sleep, increased talking, racing thoughts, increased sexual desire, a big increase in energy, poor judgment and inappropriate behavior.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Depression
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