What are depressive disorders?

What is Depression?

Depression is a medical illness that involves mind and body. Depression leads to the changes in the imbalance of brain chemicals. Depression when exceeded is called major depression. Major depression is a disabling condition which adversely affects a person's family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. A person suffering from depression may have trouble in doing normal day-to-
day activities and it creates a feeling that life isn’t worth living.

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Forms of Depression or depressive disorders

There are several forms of depressive disorders. Major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder
are the most common depressive disorders.

Major depressive disorder, also known as major depression, is characterized by a combination of
symptoms that meddle with a person's ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once–pleasurable
activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. An
episode of major depression may occur only once in a person's lifetime, but more often, it recurs
throughout a person's life.

Dysthymic disorder, also known as dysthymia, is characterized by long–term (two years or
longer) but less severe symptoms that may not disable a person but can prevent one from
functioning normally or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more
episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.

Some forms of depressive disorder display slightly different characteristics than those described
above, or they may develop some unique characteristics.

Other forms of depressive disorders include:

Psychotic depression - It occurs when a severe depressive illness is accompanied by some form of
psychosis, such as a break with reality, hallucinations, and delusions.

Postpartum depression - It is diagnosed if a new mother develops a major depressive episode
within one month after delivery. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience
postpartum depression after giving birth to a child.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - It is characterized by the onset of a depressive illness during
the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring
and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do
not respond to light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy are also used toc
reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.

Bipolar disorder – It is also known as manic-depressive illness, It is not as common as major
depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes-from extreme
highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression).

Symptoms of depression

Below are the general and quite common symptoms of depression or depressive disorders:-

  • Determinedly sad, worried, annoyed, short-tempered.
  • Feelings of despair, negativity
  • Feelings of guilt, insignificance, helplessness
  • No interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed.
  • Social isolation
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Loss of appetite or over eating
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
  • Restlessness and bad temper
  • Difficulty in concentrating, remembering and making decisions

Symptoms of depression vary with the age group also. In a child or adult the symptoms vary. Also in
a teen age the symptoms vary. Depression can also have symptoms other than the above also.

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Causes and risk factors of depression

Following are some of the causes which lead to depression or depressive disorders.

Lack of social support
Recent stressful life experiences
Family history of depression
Marital or relationship problems

Financial strain
Early childhood trauma or abuse
Alcohol or drug abuse
Unemployment or underemployment
Health problems or chronic pain