Depression is a medical condition known as a mood disorder. One in five adults will suffer from depression at sometime in their lives, and depression is twice as common in woman than it is in men.1
We all have low moods from time to time, but feeling ‘down in the dumps’ or ‘blue’ is not depression. Depression is a term used to describe a more severe disorder that a person has, on a daily basis, for at least two weeks. This disorder affects their body and state of mind1.
The symptoms of depression include the following:2
- depressed mood
- loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities
- significant weight loss or weight gain
- sleep disturbances
- restlessness or slowing down
- feelings of worthlessness
- diminished ability to think, make decisions, or concentrate
- recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
These symptoms cause marked social or occupational impairment2.
The exact cause of depression is not clear, and it is believed that depression can be caused by various different factors; including biological, genetic, and psychosocial factors. Most often these three factors interact to cause depression2
Scientists have discovered a link between depression and an imbalance of various chemicals in the brain, called serotonin, norepinephrine (also known as noradrenalin) and dopamine2. There are various drugs that can rectify the chemical imbalance. This makes depression a treatable condition.
1. McKenzie K. Family Doctor Guide to Depression. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley; 2000.
2. Kaplan HI, Sadock BJ. Synopsis of Psychiatry. New York: Williams & Wilkins; 1994.