Depressive disorder (depression)

What Is Depression? 

Depression is a mental illness that affects millions of people around the world. It can cause serious damage to physical and mental health, leading to decreased productivity at work, increased risk of suicide, and even more. Symptoms include extreme sadness, fatigue, hopelessness, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, low energy, thoughts of self-harm, and loss of appetite. There are many types of depression, including major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, etc. 

Causes of Depression 

Depression is not caused by any one specific event or factor. However, some factors can increase your risk of developing depression. These include genetics, environmental stressors, medical conditions such as sleep disturbances, thyroid disease, and substance abuse. Additionally, certain psychological conditions such as poor impulse control, anxiety, or personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and others may also contribute to depression.


Symptoms of Depression 

Depression can cause various symptoms that vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include: 

1. Sadness – This feeling of sadness might be accompanied by feelings of guilt and worthlessness. People with depression often feel sad for no reason, which makes them feel restless and worried about how they will get out of their misery. 

2. Feeling detached from the world – Many depressed individuals tend to withdraw from social situations or avoid people altogether. They may be unable to form meaningful relationships with friends or family members, which can lead to isolation. 

3. Losing sense of purpose – Having difficulties starting or completing tasks, finding meaning in things, or engaging in activities that do not bring joy and fulfillment can all be signs of depression. Individuals who feel like they have lost direction or direction in life might feel like they lack purpose. 

4. Changes in appetite – Withdrawing from food or experiencing changes in eating patterns can also be seen as signs of depression. When you lose interest in activities, it can make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet or exercise routine. 

5. Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself – If individuals with depression attempt suicide or commit acts of self-harm, this could be an indication that they are struggling and need help. The thought of hurting oneself without a clear motive and trying to end one’s life can be distressing for anyone, but especially for those who suffer from suicidal ideation or attempts. 

6. Sleep disturbance – Getting enough sleep or not getting enough sleep for prolonged periods of time can affect both your physical and mental health. In particular, insomnia is a common symptom of depression. 

7. Trouble concentrating – Studies have shown that depressed individuals tend to exhibit diminished cognitive functioning, such as memory and concentration. They may struggle to focus on tasks or have trouble remembering details. As a result, they may experience problems with schoolwork or other academic responsibilities. 

8. Loss of motivation – When individuals with depression feel like they have lost their drive or motivation, they may feel like they are incapable of achieving goals or objectives. They may become overwhelmed by day-to-day tasks and find it difficult to focus on tasks that require concentration and planning. 

9. Lack of appetite – Not being able to eat or engage in everyday activities can be a sign of depression. Eating patterns may change significantly due to decreased appetite. Furthermore, individuals may refuse to eat or stop eating altogether, which can lead to malnutrition. A significant drop in energy levels, which leads to exhaustion, can also suggest that someone has depression. 

10. Feelings of guilt – Guilt feelings could indicate that a person feels responsible for their own actions or believes they should be punished for something they have done. Others may feel guilty for not doing enough to help people around them, leading to feelings of inadequacy or shame. 

11. Low self-worth – Depression often causes feelings of sadness or low self-worth, which may lead to feelings of guilt or blame for things you did or said. Other symptoms may include feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness. 

12. Social avoidance – For some individuals with depression, they may find it difficult to interact socially with others or may withdraw from other people. This could be an indicator of withdrawal or social difficulties. 

13. Increased risky behaviors or behavior – Individuals with depression may exhibit increased risky behaviors or behaviors that put themselves or others at greater risk for harm. Examples of these behaviors may include drug use, alcohol consumption, or risky sexual behaviors. 

14. Risky sexual behaviors – Research has shown that individuals with depression may feel ashamed of their sexual behaviors or feel like they have no self-worth for their sexuality. Sexual dysfunction can also occur when people are having sex with partners who do not support them or who do not want to engage in conversations about intimacy or sexuality. 

15. Self-harm or suicide attempts – Suicide is a dangerous act that comes with considerable risks for both the individual and the society. People with depression may resort to self-harm or attempted suicide due to feelings of frustration, hopelessness, hopelessness, or helplessness. 


Depression vs. Bipolar Disorder 


Depression can be confused with bipolar disorder, though there is some evidence to show that it is two different things. Bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of mania (high levels of depression), hypomania (low levels of depression), and mixed episodes (both depression and mania). Conversely, depression is characterized by fluctuations in mood, energy, and activity levels. While bipolar disorder has several similarities, there are significant differences between the two diagnoses. 


Differences Between Depression and Bipolar Disorder 


There are several differences between bipolar disorder and depression: 

1. Types of episodes – Mania, hypomania, and mixed episodes are distinct types of depression. Hypomania refers to episodes of elevated (high) levels of depression, while manic episodes refer to episodes where an individual exhibits elevated (high) levels of happiness, excitement, and activity. Mania refers to episodes of depression in which an individual displays severe agitation and loses touch with reality. Mixed episodes refer to the combination of both mania and hypomania. 

2. Causes – Mania and hypomania can result from a wide range of causes, including hormonal imbalances, abnormalities in brain chemicals, or a biochemical imbalance. On the other hand, depressions are not linked to specific triggers. 

3. Treatment – Stimulants such as antidepressants and antipsychotics are used to treat depression. Medications used to treat bipolar disorder include lithium, bromelain inhibitors, anti-psychotic medication, and stimulants. 


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