Depression is a mood disorder that affects personal, family, social, educational, occupational, and other important functioning areas. It can affect thinking, feeling, and behavior in an adverse manner.
Depressed people may feel worthless, hopeless and are at risk of harming themselves (depression is a major risk factor for suicide).
Depression can affect everyone at any age, and it is estimated that one out of every six adults will suffer from it at some point in their life.
If you think you are suffering from depression, seek medical help immediately. Your doctor may ask a specific set of questions, called depression screening tests.
The following questionnaires and screening tools can help a mental health professional confirm the diagnosis:
- The patient health questionnaire-9
- Beck depression inventory
- Zung self-rating depression scale
- Center for epidemiologic studies-depression scale
- Hamilton rating scale for depression
What are the different types of depression?
The different types of depression include:
- Clinical depression or major depressive disorder: Lasts for a longer time.
- Bipolar depression or manic depression: Alternating episodes of mania (unreasonable euphoria) and depression.
- Persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia: Symptoms last for two years or more.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Depressive symptoms in winters when there is less sunlight and feels better in summer and spring.
- Postpartum depression: Extreme anxiety and sadness after childbirth.
- Psychotic depression: A serious psychiatric disorder.
What are the major causes of depression?
The exact cause of depression is unknown. However, it may be a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
Certain risk factors for depression
- Parental or familial history of depression
- Stressful events, such as the death of a loved one, financial crisis, physical or sexual abuse, and going through a divorce
- Stress at work
- Debilitating diseases, such as cancer and stroke
- Chronic pain
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Certain medications, such as barbiturates, corticosteroids, benzodiazepines, opioid painkillers, and specific blood pressure medicine can trigger symptoms
- Personality factors, such as pessimistic people are more prone to depression
Depression might be associated with any of the following conditions:
- Central nervous system tumors
- Head trauma or injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Various cancers
- Side effects of medications
- Withdrawal of drugs, such as steroids, amphetamines, and appetite suppressants
What are the signs and symptoms of depression?
The symptoms of depression vary with people and can range from mild to severe, including:
- Feeling sad often or all the time
- Anxious for no reason
- Irritable, frustrated
- Not interested in daily activities
- Unable to sleep or sleeping for long hours
- Excessive eating or lack of appetite
- Pains, headaches with no relief even after medications
- Unable to concentrate or make decisions
- Extreme tiredness
- Feeling guilty, hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Planning to hurt oneself or suicidal tendency
How is depression diagnosed?
When you have five or more symptoms for at least two weeks, a diagnosis of depression is elicited.
- Physical examination: The doctor may focus primarily to rule out issues with neurological and endocrine systems, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease (adrenal gland disorder).
- Blood tests: To check blood electrolytes and liver and kidney functions.
- Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain: To rule out brain tumors.
- Electroencephalogram: To check the electrical activity of the brain.
What can you do to feel better?
When you feel quite down, try the following positive choices:
- Reach out to others: Talk to your family, friends, sharing your feelings may help you feel better.
- Physical activity: Regular exercise and a short walk could be beneficial.
- Mood-boosting diet: Avoid foods that can adversely affect your moods, such as alcohol, sugar, and refined carbs. Dark chocolate, bananas, and almonds have mood-enhancing properties.
- Find ways to engage yourself: Pick up a hobby or spend quality time with pets, loved ones, or plan a vacation.
Medications used for depression (antidepressants) stimulate serotonin or noradrenaline production along with lifestyle and social changes.
- Self-guided changes lifestyle changes: Changing your sleeping pattern, spending time with family may help feel better.
- Therapy: Counseling or psychotherapy with a mental healthcare provider may help cope with the sad feelings.
- Alternative therapies: Therapies, such as acupuncture and hypnosis, might help.
- Brain stimulation: For severe depression
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation
- Electroconvulsive therapy
- Vagus nerve stimulation
- CDC Warns of Potentially Fatal Bacterial Illness on U.S. Gulf Coast
- Helping Others as Volunteers Helps Kids 'Flourish': Study
- FDA Approves Pfizer's RSV Shot for Older Adults
- What to Do When Tough-to-Treat Lymphoma Strikes During Pregnancy
- Rate of Pregnant U.S. Women Who Have Diabetes Keeps Rising
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Torres F. What is depression. American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental health conditions. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/depression-anxiety.html
Bruce DF. Depression. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/what-is-depression
Bruce DF. Tests Used to Diagnose Depression. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-tests
Top How to Test for Clinical Depression Related Articles
How Can I Boost My Mood and Mental Health Naturally?Mental health affects how you think, feel, and interact with the outside world. Boost your mood and mental health naturally by getting enough sleep, moving, eating well, stepping outside, and doing something you enjoy.
Can Major Depression Lead to Bipolar Disorder?Depression and bipolar disorder are not the same despite sharing some symptoms. Major depression can't lead to bipolar disorder.
Can Major Depression Turn into Schizophrenia?Sometimes, you can have depressive symptoms in the early stages of schizophrenia before or while you experience psychosis, but these disorders are separate diagnoses. Major depression doesn’t become schizophrenia.
How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treat Depression?Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) uses cognitive strategies to help people change patterns in the way they think and behavioral strategies to help people change behaviors that aren't helpful. CBT can help people with mild-to-moderate major depressive disorder.
DepressionDepression 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. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Depression QuizMany people do not recognize the symptoms and warning signs of depression and depressive disorders in children and adults. With proper diagnosis, treatments and medications are available. Take this quiz to learn more about recovery from depression.
Depression Tips SlidesThe right exercise, diet, and activities -- even playing with a pet --can help you recover from depression. Learn simple lifestyle changes you can do to improve your mood.
Foods to Fight DepressionFoods that help fight depression include turkey, Brazil nuts, carrots, shellfish, coffee, leafy greens, salmon, milk, and berries. These are rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin D. Avoid central nervous system depressants like alcohol and foods containing high-glycemic simple carbohydrates and added sugars that exacerbate depression.
How Does Depression Affect a Person's Behavior?Depression — a serious mood disorder — is the most common mental health disorder. It can interfere with your thoughts, your feelings, and daily activities like sleeping, eating, and working.
Is Depression a Medically Treatable Disorder?Depression is a medically treatable disorder because it is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Learn about treatment options.
Postpartum Depression: Symptoms, Diagnosis and TreatmentPostpartum depression symptoms include insomnia, anger, and irritability after giving birth. Learn about postpartum depression treatment, statistics, test, signs, help, and screening.
Depression Therapy MythsFalse ideas scare many depression suffers away from therapy and the quick relief and help these pros can provide. Let our experts help you understand the truth about therapy.
What Are 4 Major Causes of Depression?Depression is not a condition that has one specific cause. It can happen for many different reasons and have many triggers. Depression is a serious condition with a spectrum of diagnoses and a wide range of severity. Depression is a common yet serious mood disorder. The four types of depression include major depression, bipolar disorder, persistent depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder.
What Color Light Is Best for Depression?Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves the use of artificial bright light or blue light to improve mood and reduce depression symptoms. Research indicates that blue light is superior to other lights in the spectrum for treating depression.
What Is Major Depression Disorder?The American Psychiatric Association defines major depressive disorder (depression) as a common, but serious, medical illness that negatively affects how one feels, thinks and acts. Depression causes sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and decrease a person’s ability to function at work and home.