Depression is a real illness that impacts the brain. It is a serious illness caused by changes in brain chemistry.
There are also other factors that contribute to the onset of depression. They include genetics, certain modifications in hormone levels, particular medical conditions, stress, or difficult life circumstances. Any of these factors, either alone or in combination, can cause changes in brain chemistry that lead to depressionâ€™s many symptoms.
Depression is a serious condition. It is one of the most disabling disorders in the world, affecting approximately one in five women and one in ten men at some point in their lifetime.
There is a set of symptoms that are associated with depression and help to clarify the diagnosis.
â€¢ Persistent sadness or low mood.
â€¢ Clear loss of interest or pleasure in activities.
â€¢ Disturbed sleep compared with your usual pattern.
â€¢ Change in appetite. This is often a poor appetite and weight loss.
â€¢ Tiredness (fatigue) or loss of energy.
â€¢ Poor concentration. Even simple usual tasks can look complicated.
â€¢ Feelings of worthlessness, or too much guilt.
â€¢ Frequent thoughts of death. This is more a preoccupation with death and dying. Sometimes these thoughts progress into thoughts and even plans for suicide.
An episode of depression is usually identified if:
â€¢ Symptoms cause you distress or impair your normal functioning, such as affecting your job performance; and
â€¢ Symptoms arise most of the time on most days and have lasted at least two weeks; and
â€¢ The symptoms are not caused by a medication side-effect, or by drug or alcohol misuse, or by a physical condition such as an underactive thyroid gland.
With depression, it is common to develop physical symptoms such as headaches or migraines, palpitations, chest pains, and general aches. Some people with severe depression also develop delusions and/or hallucinations. These are called psychotic symptoms.
Anyone can develop depression. Some people are more prone to it and it can develop for no apparent motive. You may have no precise problem or worry, but symptoms can occur all of a sudden.
Women tend to develop depression more often than men. Particularly, women might become depressed after childbirth (postnatal depression) and the menopause.