Depression, also known as clinical depression, is a serious medical and mental health disorder that is associated with many factors, including the balance of chemicals in the brain. Depression can manifest as a large variety of symptoms, most often feelings of sadness or despair that do not go away. Depression can negatively affect a person's ability to function effectively in the activities of daily living, such as going to work and school, caring for family, and taking care of basic needs. More than 20 million people in the United States have depression, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Depression is often thought of as experiencing feelings of sadness, "having the blues", or being disheartened. However, there is a major difference between having normal feelings of sadness in reaction to a situation, such as a death in the family, and having depression. Normal feelings of sadness, although painful, generally resolve after a short time. For people with depression, feelings of sadness linger beyond a short time and intensify to the point that they interfere with the ability to function normally. This in turn can intensify the depression. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of depression.
There are many factors associated with the development of depression. These include an imbalance in the brain of chemicals called neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Neurotransmitters function within areas of the brain that regulate emotions and mood. Situational or environmental factors also play a role. These include traumas or stressors, such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or a divorce. Depression may also run in families. Current research is searching for specific genes that may be involved in passing a tendency toward developing depression in family lines.
There are a variety of types of depression. These include major depression, which is the most intense and serious type of depression. Dysthymic disorder is a less severe type of depression that is not as disabling as major depression, but is long lasting and negatively affects effective functioning and feelings of well being. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder, involves cycling mood changes, from depression to mania, an extremely energetic and "up" state. Post-partum depression is a depression that occurs after childbirth.
There is no specific test to diagnose depression. Making a diagnosis of depression begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a complete physical examination and mental health exam. Tests may also be ordered to ensure that symptoms are not related to other conditions, such as hypothyroidism. A referral to a psychiatrist or other licensed mental health provider is often made to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of depression.
It is possible that a diagnosis of depression can be missed or delayed because symptoms can be vague, associated with other conditions, or because of the stigma associated with mental illness. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of depression.
Treatment of depression varies depending on its severity of the condition, and a person's medical history, age, lifestyle, and general health. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of depression. ...more »
Depression, also known as clinical depression, is a serious medical and mental health diagnosis that is associated with many factors, including the balance of chemicals in the brain. Depression can manifest as a large variety of symptoms. It is most often associated with feelings of sadness or despair that do not go away. Depression can negatively affect a person's ability to function effectively in the activities of daily living, such as going to work and school, caring for family, and taking care of basic needs. More than 20 million people in the United States have depression, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Depression is often thought of as experiencing feelings of sadness, "having the blues", or being disheartened. However, there is a major difference between having normal feelings of sadness in reaction to a situation, such as a death in the family, and having depression. Normal feelings of sadness, although painful, generally resolve after a short time. For example, feeling blue after losing a job is normal, and normally the feelings improve or resolve as the situation is addressed, by looking for a new job, going to interviews, and landing the new job. For people with depression, the experience of losing a job is very different. The feelings of sadness linger beyond a short time and intensify to the point that they begin to interfere with the ability to cope with the situation and look for a new job. This in turn can intensify the depression.
Feelings of sadness are also a normal part of the grieving process experienced when a person losses something or someone very important to him or her. For example, nearly everyone will normally experience some level of sadness after losing a loved one. Even very intense feelings of despair can be considered normal if they do not linger past a few days. Although there may always be a residual sadness when thinking of the deceased person, feelings normally diminish to a point that the bereaved person is able to continue on and function effectively in their lives. For other people, the death of a loved may be one precipitating factor in the development of depression or in exacerbation (worsening) of the condition, in which the feelings of despair and sadness do not go away. ...more »
The severity and types of symptoms of depression vary from person to person. Typical symptoms include feelings of sadness, anxiety, and/or despair that do not go away. Other feelings may include hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, and anger and irritability.
People with depression may also experience a loss in interest in activities they once ...more symptoms »
Depression is treatable. In general, the sooner that the symptoms of depression are recognized and treated, the more effective treatment will be. The overall treatment goal for people living with depression is to feel better and live normal, functional, and productive lives. The most effective treatment plans generally include a multifaceted approach and may include ...more treatments »
A diagnosis of depression may be missed or delayed for a wide variety of reasons. For example, people with depression may fear the stigma of or be embarrassed by mental illness and not seek treatment.
A diagnosis of depression can be missed because symptoms of depression can be related to many other conditions. At the same time, depression can accompany other conditions. For example, ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Depression
See full list of 80
symptoms of Depression
Treatments for Depression
See full list of 36
treatments for Depression
Home Diagnostic Testing
Home medical testing related to Depression:
- Child Behavior: Home Testing
- Mental Health (Adults): Home Testing
Wrongly Diagnosed with Depression?
Depression: Related Patient Stories
Read more about Deaths and Depression.
Alternative Treatments for Depression
Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Depression may include:
Types of Depression
See full list of 15
Types of Depression
Curable Types of Depression
Possibly curable types of Depression include:
- Bulimia nervosa related
- Anorexia nervosa related depression
- Obsessive compulsive disorder related depression
- Somatization disorder
- SLE related depression
- Obstructive sleep apnea related depression
- Lyme disease related depression
- more types...»
Rare Types of Depression:
Rare types of Depression include:
Review possible medical complications related to Depression:
Causes of Depression
- Depression may be directly related to a significant event in our lives such as losing a loved one, experiencing trauma, or battling a chronic illness. Other caused may involve:
- Pre-menstrual and postnatal hormone changes
- Hormone deficiencies
- Drug dependency
- more causes...»
See full list of 13
causes of Depression
More information about causes of Depression:
Disease Topics Related To Depression
Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Depression:
Depression: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:
Misdiagnosis and Depression
Rare epilepsy can cause a variety of severe emotional and depressive symptoms: The book "Preventing Misdiagnosis of Women" reports on
a case of a woman with severe...read more »
High rate of misdiagnosis of psychiatric disorders: The book "Preventing Misdiagnosis of Women" reports
on studies that estimate that 41% to 83% of people who are treated
for psychiatric disorders,...read more »
Physical disorders often hidden causes of depression: It is a common misdiagnosis to diagnose a psychological
or psychiatric disorder, such as depression, when symptoms are
actually caused by an...read more »
Underactive thryoid may be misdiagnosed as depression: Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is an endocrine gland disorder that
is more common in women.
It can mimic many diseases, including depression....read more »
Adrenal gland disorder difficult to correctly diagnose: Addison's disease, a disorder of the adrenal glands,
causes a variety of symptoms, and is often misdiagnosed in early stages.
Common misdiagnoses include ...read more »
Cushing's disease can be mistaken for depression: Cushing's disease (or similarly Cushing's syndrome) is a possible misdiagnosis for a person
diagnosed with depression.
It is an...read more »
Manic-depressive (bipolar) disorder often misdiagnosed: Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, is often
misdiagnosed before reaching a correct diagnosis.
Some of the common misdiagnoses include ...read more »
Calcium disorder a hidden cause of depression-like symptoms: Another uncommon endocrine disorder that
can be misdiagnosed as depression is hypocalcemia (low blood calcium),
which is usually due to a disorder of the parathyroid...read more »
Various mental health symptoms caused by rare epilepsy: Temporal lobe epilepsy is a less common form
of epilepsy that does not have the typical physical...read more »
Rare seizure-less epilepsy misdiagnosed as various conditions: A complex partial seizure disorder,
such as temporal lobe epilepsy
can be misdiagnosed as various conditions.
Some of the possible...read more »
Multiple sclerosis often misdiagnosed as mental disorder: The early stages of multiple sclerosis may cause
various general feelings of wellness, happiness, euphoria, or manic-type...read more »
Lupus is often misdiagnosed as other conditions: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), often simply called "lupus",
is a difficult disease to...read more »
Rare copper disease insidious and misdiagnosed: Wilson's disease (a form of copper overload) is a rare disorder that
has a slow and insidious onset that...read more »
Insidious cancer misdiagnosed as mental health condition: Pancreatic cancer is fortunately relatively rare,
but this dangerous condition can be misdiagnosed as a mental condition in its
early stages....read more »
Hidden diagnosis of chronic STD: The book "A Dose of Sanity" reports on a case of a many diagnosed
with depression, who was correctly diagnosed with seronegative syphilis (see syphilis).
The late forms of syphilis can mimic many...read more »
Cluster of diseases with difficult diagnosis issues: There is a well-known list of
medical conditions that are all somewhat difficult to diagnose, and all can...read more »
Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who
had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness
because he suffered from sudden...read more »
Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease
is often over-diagnosed.
Patients tend to assume that any memory loss or forgetulness...read more »
Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for
a patient to show mental decline to dementia.
Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions,
such as a stroke or Alzheimer's disease,...read more »
Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that
any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease.
The...read more »
ADHD under-diagnosed in adults: Although the over-diagnoses of ADHD
in children is a well-known controversy, the reverse side related to adults.
Some adults can remain undiagnosed, and indeed the condition has usually been...read more »
Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic
disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's.
The...read more »
Bipolar disorder misdiagosed as various conditions by primary physicians: Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder)
often fails to be diagnosed correctly by primary care...read more »
Eating disorders under-diagnosed in men: The typical patient with
an eating disorder is female.
The result is that men with eating disorders often fail to be diagnosed or
have a delayed...read more »
Depression undiagnosed in teenagers: Serious bouts of depression can be
undiagnosed in teenagers.
The "normal" moodiness of teenagers can cause severe medical...read more »
Undiagnosed anxiety disorders related to depression: Patients with depression (see symptoms of depression)
may also have undiagnosed anxiety disorders (see symptoms of anxiety disorders).
Failure to diagnose these anxiety...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Depression
Depression: Research Doctors & Specialists
Research related physicians and medical specialists:
Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:
Hospitals & Clinics: Depression
Research quality ratings and patient safety measures
for medical facilities in specialties related to Depression:
Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »
Choosing the Best Hospital:
More general information, not necessarily in relation to Depression,
on hospital performance and surgical care quality:
Depression: Rare Types
Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:
Latest Treatments for Depression
See full list of 10
latest treatments for Depression
Prognosis for Depression
More about prognosis of Depression
Research about Depression
Visit our research pages for current research about Depression treatments.
Clinical Trials for Depression
The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally
and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Depression include:
See full list of 822
Clinical Trials for Depression
Statistics for Depression
Depression: Broader Related Topics
Types of Depression
Depression Message Boards
Related forums and medical stories:
User Interactive Forums
Read about other experiences, ask a question about Depression, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:
Article Excerpts about Depression
Everyone gets the blues now and then. Itís part of life. But when there
is little joy or pleasure after visiting with friends or after seeing a
good movie, there may be a more serious problem. A depressed mood that
stays around for a while, without let-up, can change the way a person
thinks or feels. Doctors call this "clinical depression." (Source: excerpt from Depression: NWHIC)
Definitions of Depression:
A mental state of depressed mood characterised by feelings of sadness, despair and discouragement. (On-line Medical Dictionary)
- (Source - Diseases Database)
A mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
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