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What Is Depression Disorder?

by Yvette Sajem
  • Overview

    What Is Depression Disorder?
    What Is Depression Disorder?
    Depression disorder, far more than just "feeling blue," is a disruptive and overwhelming mental disorder that affects approximately 19 million Americans, according to Help Guide. The term "depression disorder" is actually an umbrella term for several subtypes: major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, dysthymic disorder, cyclothymic disorder, mood disorder, seasonal affective disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. A true depression disorder cannot be lifted by a nice dinner or a funny movie; it is an uncontrollable illness that requires serious attention and professional treatment.
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of depression will vary from person to person, and the intensity of these symptoms can increase and decrease over time. Symptoms include a continuous depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, loss of energy, feelings of hopelessness, loss of concentration and focus, self-hatred, weight fluctuation, sleep disturbance, psycho-motor disturbance, and thoughts of death and suicide. According to Psych Central, for a diagnosis of depression to be confirmed, these symptoms must be present continuously for at least two months and cannot be the result of bereavement, a medical condition or substance abuse.
    What Is Depression Disorder?
    What Is Depression Disorder?
 
  • Causes

    According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers agree that depression is probably caused by a combination of biological (genetics, physical illness or disability, substance abuse, chemical imbalance), environmental (childhood trauma or abuse, traumatic life experience, poverty, having recently given birth) and psychological (isolation, lack of social support, negative thinking patterns, low self-esteem) elements.
  • Diagnosis

    In determining your diagnosis, your mental health practitioner will make a careful and considered assessment of your condition. According to the Merck Online Medical Library, she may first order a physical exam and lab work to rule out any medical cause for your depression. She will then conduct a clinical interview and should be able to make a diagnosis based on your symptoms. Often, standard diagnostic questionnaires such as the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale or the Beck Depression Inventory are used to aid diagnosis.
    What Is Depression Disorder?
    What Is Depression Disorder?
  • Treatment

    There are many treatments available for depression, and with the guidance of your mental health practitioner, you can develop a course of treatment that best suits your condition and situation. The typical first line of treatment for depression is psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medication. If family trauma or issues are at the core of your depression, family therapy may be in order. Severe or suicidal cases may require hospitalization. The Help Guide also suggests that you engage in positive lifestyle changes that include a healthy, mood-boosting diet, exercise, enough sleep, support groups, cultivating supportive relationships, and challenging your own negative thought patterns.
  • Prognosis

    Today the prognosis for people with depression is good, as long as you "stick to the program." The Mayo Clinic warns that it is essential that you don't skip therapy sessions, even if you're not in the mood--that's when you may need it the most. Never stop medication without the consent and guidance of your mental health practitioner; not only could this cause a psychological setback, it could cause dangerous physical side effects. It is also essential that you educate yourself about your condition--learn to recognize the signs of a setback and be aware of your own triggers.
    What Is Depression Disorder?
    What Is Depression Disorder?

    References & Resources