Depression

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Understanding Depression Slideshow
Woman with depression

Depression Symptoms

Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood and is more than a case of persistent sadness.

Symptoms of depression also include

  • feelings of worthlessness,
  • hopelessness,
  • helplessness,
  • guilt,
  • lack of interest in daily activities,
  • irritability,
  • loss of energy,
  • loss of appetite,
  • sleep problems,
  • self-loathing,
  • thoughts of suicide.

Quick GuideDepression Guide: Signs, Symptoms, and Testing

Depression Guide: Signs, Symptoms, and Testing

Depression facts

  • A depressive disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by a sad, blue mood that goes above and beyond normal sadness or grief.
  • A depressive disorder is a syndrome, meaning a group of symptoms.
  • Depressive disorders are feature not only negative thoughts, moods, and behaviors but also specific changes in bodily functions (like, eating, sleeping, energy and sexual activity).
  • One in 10 people will have a depression in their lifetime.
  • Because depression can lead to self-harm including suicide, it is important to note that one of every 25 suicide attempts results in death.
  • Some types of depression, especially bipolar depression, run in families.
  • While there are many social, psychological, and environmental risk factors for developing depression, some are particularly prevalent in one gender or the other, or in particular age or ethnic groups.
  • There can be some differences in symptoms of depression depending on age, gender, and ethnicity.
  • Depression is only diagnosed clinically in that there is no laboratory test or X-ray for depression. It is therefore crucial to see a health professional as soon as you notice symptoms of depression in yourself, your friends, or family.
  • The first step in getting appropriate treatment is a complete physical and psychological evaluation to determine whether the person, in fact, has a depressive disorder.
  • Depression is not a weakness but a serious illness with biological, psychological, and social aspects to its cause, symptoms, and treatment. A person cannot will it away. Untreated or undertreated, it can worsen or return.
  • There are many safe and effective medications, particularly the SSRIs, that can be of great help in the treatment of depression.
  • For full recovery from a mood disorder, regardless of whether there is a precipitating factor or it seems to come out of the blue, treatments with medications, phototherapy and/or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), as well as psychotherapy are necessary.
  • In the future, through depression research and education, we will continue to improve our treatments, decrease society's burden, and hopefully improve prevention of this illness.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2016

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