Answers FAQ

Depression FAQs

Reviewed by Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

Take the Depression Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
Test your Knowledge!

Q:Depression is identified by a sad and/or irritable mood exceeding normal sadness or grief. True or False?

A:True. A depressive disorder is a syndrome (group of symptoms) that reflects a sad and/or irritable mood exceeding normal sadness or grief. More specifically, the sadness of depression, also referred to as clinical depression, is characterized by a greater intensity and duration and by more severe symptoms and functional disabilities than is normal.

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Q:Depression usually results in high libido. True or False?

A:False. Depressive signs and symptoms are characterized not only by negative thoughts, moods, and behaviors but also by specific changes in bodily functions (for example, crying spells, body aches, low energy or libido, as well as problems with eating, weight, or sleeping).

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Q:Less severe symptoms that precede the more debilitating symptoms are called?

A:Warning signs. Less severe symptoms that precede the more debilitating symptoms are called warning signs.

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Q:What per cent of adults experience depression?

A:About 10% of adults experience some kind of depressive disorder. Depressive disorders are a huge public health problem, due to its affecting millions of people.

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Q:Depression can increase the risks for developing HIV, asthma, and coronary artery disease. True or False?

A:True. Depression can increase the risks for developing coronary artery disease, HIV, asthma, and many other medical illnesses. Furthermore, it can increase the morbidity (illness/negative health effects) and mortality (death) from these and many other medical conditions.

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Q:Panic disorder is a type of depressive disorder. True or False?

A:False. Panic disorder is not a type of depressive disorder. Three of the most common types of depressive disorders are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder (manic depression).

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Q:What are possible causes of depression?

A:Certain medications and genetics may be causes of depression. Some types of depression run in families, indicating that a biological vulnerability to depression can be inherited. Certain medications used for a variety of medical conditions are more likely than others to cause depression as a side effect.

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Q:PPD only happens after the birth of the first child. True or False?

A:False. Postpartum depression (PPD) can happen a few days or even months after childbirth. PPD can happen after the birth of any child, not just the first child. A woman can have feelings similar to the baby blues -- sadness, despair, anxiety, irritability -- but she feels them much more strongly than she would with the baby blues. PPD often keeps a woman from doing the things she needs to do every day. When a woman's ability to function is affected, this is a sure sign that she needs to see her healthcare provider right away. If a woman does not get treatment for PPD, symptoms can get worse and last for as long as one year. While PPD is a serious condition, it can be treated with medication and counseling.

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Q:There are lab tests and X-rays that diagnose mental disorders such as depression. True or False?

A:False. There are no lab tests or X-rays that diagnose mental disorders. The first step to obtaining appropriate treatment is accurate diagnosis, which requires a complete physical and psychological evaluation to determine whether the person may have a depressive illness, and if so, what type. The examining physician should rule out (exclude)other possible causes of mental illness through an interview, physical examination, and laboratory tests. Many primary care doctors use screening tools for depression, which are usually questionnaires that help identify people who have symptoms of depression and may need to receive a full mental health evaluation. A thorough diagnostic evaluation includes a complete history of the patient's symptoms. As of today, there is no laboratory test, blood test, or X-ray that can diagnose a mental disorder.

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Q:Electroconvulsive therapy is a depression treatment. True or False?

A:True. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is one of the many treatments of depression. Others include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and psychotherapy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are medications that increase the amount of the neurochemical serotonin in the brain. Commonly seen in people with depression, serotonin levels are often low. Examples of SSRIs include Prozac® (fluoxetine), Paxil® (paroxetine), Zoloft® (sertraline), Celexa® (citalopram), Luvox® (fluvoxamine), and Lexapro® (escitalopram). ECT is useful for certain patients, particularly for those who cannot take or have not responded to a number of antidepressants, have severe depression, and/or are at a high risk for suicide. ECT often is effective in cases where trials of a number of antidepressant medications do not provide sufficient relief of symptoms. Many forms of psychotherapy are effectively used to help depressed individuals, including some short-term (10 to 20 weeks) therapies.

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Q:Depression in the elderly has a low rate of recovery. True or False?

A:True. Depression in the elderly tends to be chronic, has a low rate of recovery, and is often undertreated. This is of particular concern given that elderly men (particularly elderly white men) have the highest suicide rate. Depressive disorders are a huge public health problem, due to its affecting millions of people. About 10% of adults, up to 8% of teens and 2% of preteen children experience some kind of depressive disorder. Mania symptoms of manic depression include inappropriate irritability or anger.

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Q:Which medications are used in the treatment of bipolar depression?

A:Lithium, valproate, carbamazepine, neurontin, and lamictal and Ziprasidone, risperidone, quetiapine, and paliperdone. Eskalith® and Lithobid® (lithium); Depakene® and Depakote® (valproate); Epitol® and Tegretol® (carbamazepine); Neurontin® (gabapentin), and Lamictal® (lamotrigine) are mood stabilizers and anticonvulsants. They have been used to treat bipolar depression. Certain antipsychotic medications, such as Geodon® (ziprasidone), Risperdal® (risperidone), Seroquel® (quetiapine), Abilify® (aripiprazole), and Invega® (paliperdone), may treat psychotic depression. They have also been found to be effective mood stabilizers and are therefore sometimes been used to treat bipolar depression, usually in combination with other antidepressants.

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Q:What are some side effects of SSRI antidepressants?

A: SSRIs have been reported to decrease sex drive (libido) in both men and women. SSRIs have also been reported to cause inability to achieve orgasm or delay in achieving orgasm (anorgasmia) in women and difficulty with ejaculation (delay in ejaculating or loss of ability to ejaculate) in men.

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Q:After one major depressive episode, what is the chance a person will have another?

A:50% chance. If a person suffers one major depressive episode, he or she has a 50% chance of a second episode.

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