Category: | Mental Health

Depression Explained

Do you know someone who has depression? Have you or someone in your family been diagnosed with depression? Even if we are dealing with depression in ourselves or our families, we may not know what it really is. Is it just feeling sad all the time? Why can’t people just snap out of it?

Depression is said to be the most widespread mental disorder. It affects women far more than men, and is particularly prevalent in teens.

What Causes Depression?

There are various opinions on what causes depression, and even the role of brain chemicals is debated. Generally, though, depression can be separated into two categories: circumstantial and clinical.

Circumstantial depression refers to feelings surrounding an event, such as a death in the family or having to sell one’s house and move. The circumstances that can cause depression are extremely numerous, from kids having trouble with friends at school to the elderly in a nursing home. Circumstantial depression is also highly individualized.

Clinical depression defies circumstances and the depressed person may feel more depressed because he or she can’t find a reason for such dreadful feelings. Clinical depression may baffle those around the patient, too, because they can’t understand how a person could be depressed when his or her life seems to be going fine. This lack of understanding may make the patient’s depression worse.

Treatment approaches differ according to the type of depression the patient is experiencing as well as the individual’s personality and lifestyle.

Myths

There are a lot of myths surrounding depression that, when explained, help people better understand the illness. For example:

* Isn’t depression just self-pity? – Depressed people may seem to be "wallowing" in their sadness, but it’s not willful self-pity. It’s a true medical illness, sources point out, that should be treated as such.

* Medication for depression is overkill, and just treats the symptoms – For those on the outside, so to speak, medication can seem like putting a Band-Aid on a massive wound. But often, medication is what the patient needs to feel good enough to seek help for the underlying problem.

* Depression is not a "real" illness – Actually, it is; brain imaging studies have revealed how the actual chemical imbalances occur in the brain of a depressed person. It is considered physiological, even if the cause is circumstantial – the chemical imbalance may still be present regardless of the depression’s origin.

Other Factors

Depression can be affected not only by circumstances; genetics, personality, psychology, and biology may also play a role. Women are far more likely to be diagnosed with depression, indicating possible hormonal factors. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to succeed in suicide as a result of depression than women, although more women than men attempt suicide, sources report.

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