Depression differs from feeling sad or down. In fact, unhappiness is something we all feel at one time or the other, typically because of a specific cause. On the other hand, a depressed person will experience intense feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, helplessness, and negativity.

Depression makes it difficult to enjoy life and function as you previously did. Actually, getting through the day can be overwhelming for a depressed person. Approximately 15 million Americans struggle with depression, which comes in various forms, ranging from major depression to bipolar disorder.

The complex disorder interferes with motivation, concentration, and several other facets of daily functioning. Although a full understanding of the disorder has been elusive due to its complexity, it’s highly treatable even in severe cases.

By understanding the source of your depression and identifying the various kinds and symptoms, you can take the initial step towards feeling better and overcoming the issue. If you suspect you might be experiencing depression, this informative guide will shed some light.


What is Depression?

  • It’s important to note that depression isn’t an indication of personal weakness or a condition that you can will or wish away. Furthermore, a depressed person can’t just pull himself together and get better.

  • The disorder can strike at whatever time, but on average it appears initially from the late teens to mid-20s and women are more likely to experience it than men are. Although it may need long-term treatment, most people usually feel better with psychotherapy, medication, or both.

  • The common and debilitating disorder goes beyond mere sadness in reaction to life’s setbacks and struggles. The mood disorder actually changes how you feel, think, and function in everyday activities. It can hinder your ability to study, work, eat, and enjoy life.

  • In particular, men can feel restless and angry. Regardless of how you experience the disorder, it can become a severe health condition if left untreated.

  • Furthermore, the feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and helplessness can be unrelenting and intense. While a number of people describe it as “living in a black hole” or a feeling of imminent doom, others feel empty, lifeless, and apathetic.


About 7% of the American population suffers from this disorder, although the rate differs considerably according to age and gender. While gender differences don’t exist in childhood, the difference becomes evident from adolescence.

Generally, women are 70% more likely to suffer from this disorder throughout their lives than men are while persons aged 18-19 are more likely to be affected than persons aged over 60.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that enhances your probability of getting a condition or disease. While it’s possible to develop the disorder with or without these factors, the more risk factors, the higher likelihood of developing depression.

If you have various factors, your health provider can inform you how to decrease your risk. Your likelihood of experiencing depression may be associated with a combination of physical, genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. They include:

Risk Factors includes:

Although depression can arise at any age, it frequently starts in young adults or teens. NIMH reports indicate that most chronic anxiety and mood disorders in adults start as high anxiety in children, indicating that high childhood anxiety levels could cause a higher likelihood of adult depression.

Persons with low self-esteem, who are normally pessimistic or easily overwhelmed by stress, seem to have a higher likelihood of experiencing depression, research reveals.

The methods in which specific brain chemicals work may predispose somebody to depression. Chemicals known as neurotransmitters help control the manner in which electrical signals move from one brain neuron to the next, and several, including serotonin and dopamine play a role in mood control.

Bear in mind that numerous drugs that treat depression target these chemicals. At times, other diseases, for instance, stroke and Parkinson’s might cause structural or chemical brain changes that might have a direct link to depression.

Stress and illness-related anxiety could also trigger depression symptoms and some medications for these illnesses may even produce side effects that exacerbate or cause depression.

Some psychological factors place people at risk for this disorder. For instance, people who constantly view the world and themselves with pessimism may be vulnerable to depression.

Other psychological factors, for instance sensitivity to rejection and loss as well as perfectionism may increase somebody’s likelihood for experiencing depression. The disorder is also more common in persons with chronic anxiety conditions and avoidant and borderline personality disorders.

Few or the lack of supportive relationships could increase the likelihood of depression in women and men.

However, depression rates tend to be higher among stay at home women with young children and those who consider themselves isolated in comparison with employed women or those with a supportive network. In numerous cases, limited social networks have been known to precede the onset of this disorder.

According to research, women experience this disorder about twice as frequently as men do. In particular, hormonal factors may result in increased depression rates in women, especially factors such as pregnancy, premenstrual changes, menopause, and postpartum period.

Furthermore, numerous women face extra stresses for instance, responsibilities at home and work, single parenthood, caring for aging parents and children.

Numerous mental health professionals assert that environmental stressors have a significant role to play in tipping persons who are vulnerable to clinical depression. According to the NIMH, continued exposure to neglect, violence, poverty, or abuse might make some more vulnerable to depression.

Other events that could possibly increase vulnerability include events such as emotional or physical trauma, financial difficulties, the loss of a loved one, relationship issues, or childhood trauma.

Numerous studies reveal that depression can be genetic. Therefore, if you have an identical twin with depression, your chance of having the disorder is approximately 50% and if your parent has depression, your likelihood of having the same is approximately 25%.

Types of Depression

Depressive disorders occur in various forms, and while similarities exist among them, each has its distinct set of symptoms. The different types of depression are:

Major depression

The major symptom for this condition is an overwhelming depressed feeling for over two weeks. The depressed feeling affects every facet of the person’s life, including home life, work, friendships, and relationships.

A person with this condition frequently finds it hard to accomplish much or get motivated. As a result, seeking treatment can be challenging. A dark and all-consuming mood is a feature of this condition in which the person loses interest in activities that are normally pleasurable.

Some individuals may experience a single episode although it’s more common to experience numerous episodes in a person’s lifetime. Symptoms of this kind of depression include difficulty sleeping, appetite or weight changes, energy loss, and feelings of worthlessness.

Suicidal thoughts may also occur. Treatment for this condition typically involves medication and psychotherapy. For those who don’t find relief from antidepressants or psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy may be efficient.

Post-natal depression

Numerous new mothers sometimes experience “baby blues” some days after delivery. The lack of confidence and feelings of anxiety are distressing but only last a few weeks in most instances.

However, post-natal depression lasts longer and is more intense. It can leave a new mother feeling very overwhelmed, unable to cope, and inadequate. Such persons may have issues sleeping, an intense fear of death, and panic attacks.

Furthermore, the person may have negative feelings toward her child. The disorder affects 1 in 7 mothers and typically starts 2-3 weeks after delivery. It’s important to note that hormonal changes after pregnancy may trigger depression symptoms and more than half of those who suffer from this disorder will have a recurring episode with the delivery of another baby.

Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize and treat it early. During pregnancy, the amount of progesterone and estrogen-female hormones, increase greatly but return to normal during the initial 24 hours after delivery. Researchers believe that the rapid change in hormonal levels may contribute to depression. Treatment for this disorder includes medication and counseling.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

While numerous kinds of depression exist, some types seem to have a link with seasons or length of days. SAD arises when days get shorter in the winter and fall. Mood changes may originate from changes in the body’s daily rhythms, the eyes’ light sensitivity, or in how melatonin and serotonin function.

The leading treatment for SAD is light therapy, which entails sitting close to an intense source of light. The typical depression treatments for instance, medication and psychotherapy may be effective as well.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Up to 10% of childbearing women experience the disorder whose severe form can trigger sadness, depression, irritability or anxiety as well as other severe symptoms. The disorder can be disabling, uncomfortable, and disrupt the woman’s daily life.

Scientists believe the affected women may have an unusual sensitivity to hormonal changes throughout their menstrual cycle. Nevertheless, taking antidepressants can be extremely effective.

Persistent depressive disorder

Previously called “dysthymia” this form of depression features a low mood that’s lasted about 2 years but may not attain the intensity of major depression. While persons with this kind of depression can maintain their daily functions, they feel joyless or low much of the time.

Some symptoms of depression, for instance, sleep and appetite changes, low self-esteem, low energy, and hopelessness are usually evident in this disorder.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression symptoms can be complex and differ broadly between individuals. However, general symptoms include hopelessness, sadness, and loss of interest in things you previously found enjoyable. Some of the symptoms to watch out for include:

Hopeless Outlook

Depression is a disorder, which affects how you generally feel about life. Having a helpless or hopeless outlook on life is the most common sign of depression. Other feelings may include self-hate, worthlessness, or inappropriate guilt.

Fatigue and Exhaustion

A depressed person typically feels tired regardless of how much he or she sleeps. Fatigue and depression are interlinked in a vicious cycle, making it difficult to identify where one starts and the other ends.

Researchers cite that depressed persons are more than 4 times as likely to experience unexplained fatigue while those who suffer from fatigue are almost 3 times as likely to experience depression.

Sleep disturbances

Depressed persons frequently have trouble falling asleep or awaken in the early morning hours and find that they’re incapable of getting back to sleep. Bear in mind that the lack of sleep can’t solely result in depression, but it could contribute, and the lack of sleep because of anxiety or another illness can worsen depression.

Changes in Weight and Appetite

Nausea, chronic constipation, diarrhea, and queasiness can originate from depression. Studies reveal that up to 60% of persons with irritable bowel syndrome have a psychological disorder, mostly anxiety or depression. Depression is therefore, a potential cause of digestive disorders, so investigation should occur before initiating aggressive treatments.

Changes in Weight and Appetite

Appetite and weight can fluctuate in depressed persons although this experience may differ across individuals. While some people exhibit an increased appetite and gain weight as a result, others experience weight loss because of not eating.

In older adults, the abrupt interest loss in eating could lead to geriatric anorexia. Eating issues can generate symptoms including cramps, malnutrition, constipation, and stomachaches.

Beware that the symptoms may not show improvement with medication if the person doesn’t consume the appropriate diet. While sweets and foods with high carbohydrate content might offer immediate relief, the effects are frequently temporary.

A sign of whether dietary changes are associated with depression is if they’re deliberate or not. If they aren’t, it may imply that depression is the cause. Maintaining a healthy diet is important in depressed persons. After all, nutrients are vital in ensuring the body’s neurotransmitters function right.


Although research hasn’t shown depression as the cause of anxiety, the two conditions frequently occur together. Anxiety symptoms include:

  • Restlessness, nervousness, or feeling tense
  • Fast, heart rate
  • Muscle twitching or trembling
  • Heavy or increased sweating

Effects of Depression on Health

While depression is theoretically a mental disorder, it affects the person’s physical health and wellbeing. Depression affects a person’s entire body by weakening the immune system and increasing vulnerability to viral infections.

Stress and depression have a close relation; stress hormones accelerate the heart rate and tighten blood vessels, thereby placing the body in an extended state of emergency. Over time, this could result in heart disease. If left untreated, depression increases the likelihood of death following a heart attack.