Home > About Depression > What is Depression?

What is Depression?

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 6 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Depression What Is Depressive Illness

Depression is a mental health condition that affects the way a person functions thinks, sleeps, eats and feels about him or herself. Depression is more than just a fleeting low mood that soon picks up. A stressful experience or upsetting event can leave a person feeling temporarily 'down,' but depression is a consistent low mood that lasts for several weeks or more and prevents a person from functioning to their full ability.

Depression is not something that can simply be changed overnight and is not a sign of any weakness or failure on the part of the depressed person. Depression is a particularly devastating illness in that it affects the body, moods, behaviours and thoughts. If treatment for depression does not occur, the symptoms can be present for years and of particular concern is the potential for suicidal thoughts.

Depression Is a Real Medical Condition

Clinical depression is the term used for a diagnosed depressive illness. It is a medical condition that has been correlated with chemical changes in the brain. Although it does affect how a person thinks, it is not all 'in their head,' as is often mistakenly believed. Far from being a representation of a person's character, depression is a genuine medical illness that truly overwhelms a person and impairs their ability to cope with daily tasks. It affects a person's relationships, self-esteem, work, school and home life. It also has an enormous impact on the provision and costs of health services each year.

Clinical Depression

Clinical depression is a more generalized term used to describe various specific depression types. These are:

  • Major depression - This often encompasses severe physical symptoms shown by effects on eating and digestion as well as causing bodily pains. These occur in addition to the intense emotional distress.

  • Bipolar disorder - This involves severe mood swings, from a high elated mood to a low and depressed one.

  • Dysthymia depression - This is a steady depression that has been occurring for 2 years or more. Although less severe than other forms, it is disabling in its long-lasting nature and its effect on daily functioning.

  • Seasonal affective disorder - This form of depression is quite common. Its occurrence is linked to times during the year when sunlight is reduced.

Depression Can't Be Willed Away

The idea that a person can just 'snap' out of a depression is false and it is far from being so simple. Depression requires medical treatment, often with prescription medications and it also requires a thorough approach. In addition, a depressed person may need psychological therapy, often for years.

Depression Can Lead To Suicide

Depression is responsible for a great number of suicides each years, with women attempting suicide more often than men, but men being more successful in their attempts. It is this devastating and final effect of depression that makes it crucial that depression be detected as early as possible, with treatment occurring immediately afterwards.

It's important to obtain an understanding of depression, because even if you don't experience it yourself, it is likely that during your lifetime, you will know someone who is struggling with the disorder. By learning about depression, the stereotypes and stigma associated with the condition can be reduced, and those who suffer from it can better obtain timely diagnosis and treatment.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Sasha
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    Im 8 and half weeks pregnant. I am 38 and have a 9 and 11 year old. This wasnt planed. My husband wants me to get an abortion but…
    26 July 2017
  • Nells
    Re: How to Reduce the Risks of Depression Reoccurring
    I found these article extremely useful.I was able to identify with almost everything. I was also liked…
    21 July 2017
  • Matthew
    Re: How to Rebuild Your Life After a Breakdown
    I have just finished writing myself through a prolonged period of mental illness and think that I may have come…
    20 July 2017
  • Anon
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had a medical abortion today... I had the intention of keeping my pregnancy but something within me kept tugging on that thought…
    2 July 2017
  • kunjumol
    Re: Driving and Depression
    i am taking medicines for anti depression i am ok but i very nervey and memory level is not good anxiety and ,negativity the qualities…
    28 June 2017
  • less
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had also an abortion ten years ago i got depressed until now because my ex wanted to abort our baby and i am so scared with my…
    26 June 2017
  • debily
    Re: How To Assert Yourself
    Hyy, I'm a student pursuing my B.tech carrier,currently in the final year of it. criticism and comments arouse out of some of my foolish…
    17 June 2017
  • Mrs P
    Re: How to Rebuild Your Life After a Breakdown
    Returning To Work After Depression Have had several depressive incidents in the past, both reactive and through…
    9 June 2017
  • Mrs P
    Re: How To Assert Yourself
    Have had several depressive incidents in the past, both reactive and through steroid side effects. In each case, once on meds have…
    9 June 2017
  • Devistated
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had a medical abortion 3 weeks ago and the grief, upset, heartbreak is consuming me! I went through with it due to no support,…
    4 June 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the OvercomeDepression website. Please read our Disclaimer.