Understanding Depression and Its Symptoms

Understanding depression

What is depression?

Depression is probably the most common word that we have heard or used to hear in our everyday lives. Despite being a serious condition depression is often a misunderstood condition.

Depression or major depressive disorder can be defined as a mood disorder. A condition accompanied by a feeling of consistent sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness in life. In extreme cases, its symptoms can also cause a person to have feelings of self-harm and develop suicidal tendencies. Depression can be temporary or long-term and can manifest itself in life due to several factors such as stress caused by career, financial problems, relationship issues, studies, exams, etc, the list goes on and affects different people differently.

What is the diagnosis of depression or major depressive disorders?

The DSM(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) defines depression as a ” common and serious mood disorder. otherwise known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression”. 

The DSM presents few criteria to diagnose depression or major depressive disorders. These criteria must need to be present to rule out the presence of depressive disorders in people.

Depression is different from grief. It causes a feeling of despair at the loss of something in life, depression on the other hand can persist through a lifetime depending on its severity and treatment of the condition.

Millions of people are currently suffering from depression and near bout 800,000 people die by suicide caused by depression every year, which means every 40 seconds, a person unalive themselves as you are reading this reading.

What are the Causes of depression?

Depression tends to take a toll on a person so quickly. It usually starts slowly and spreads like an infectious disease and compromises the whole life of a person like a virus destroys the whole body. It interferes with the normal life of a person affecting their personal, professional as well as social life.

Depression has its severity and effects and causes vary from person to person however there are some underlying causes which majorly found to be the root cause of depression can be stress caused by financial pressure, career problems, education, relationships, death, and the followed by bereavement and so on.

Genetic basis of depression and family history

Depression can also be caused by the genetics of a person. Genetics plays a lot of role in the development of a person so its possibility of contributing to depression can’t be ruled out. Genetics surely severe a major risk factor behind depression 

Family history also contributes to the causation of depressive disorders. If the family members share a history of the disorders then there are chances to pass down this across their generation.

The causes that lead to depression are like a ‘chain of events’ or butterfly effect where one small thing might lead to some major issues and with passing time and the consistent presence of stress the condition worsens to the point of numbing a person’s mind.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression can affect a person regardless of age, gender, and social-cultural differences.

There are many ways depression may manifest in a person. Minor or major, an individual shows some signs or symptoms of depression which are picked by close friends and family members.

The following are the symptoms that are used to identify the presence of depression in a person;

1. Persistent state of sadness

While sadness is considered an everyday and common aspect of human emotion where we feel the blues of our lives regardless of reasons. Sadness, as any other emotion occurs for a prolonged period, However in the case of depression there is a persistent state of sadness that doesn’t seem to end no matter what the situation is.

2. Loss of interest in activities

As humans, we tend to get lethargic, uninterested, or sometimes procrastinate out of laziness to work. Sometimes we just want to relax. In the case of depression, there is a complete loss of interest in doing activities that we previously used to enjoy. Even things kike trying favorite foods or engaging in hobbies may seem nothing to us.

3. Weight loss or weight gain

Speaking from a physiological point of view there is either a loss of weight due to the low appetite that occurs in depression where a person doesn’t eat anything or an increase in weight caused by stages of binge eating that can occur as a means of coping mechanism to deal with the stress.

4. A feeling of restlessness or irritability

A feeling of restlessness might feel like an invisible force pounding on their chest. Restlessness occurs due to the presence of anxiety or agitation caused by the stress.Depression often brings or gets followed by anxiety- a common state of restlessness or uneasiness.

5. Fatigue

While fatigue is normal for everyone, the fatigue caused by depression can be extremely different. In depression doing a task as small as waking up might seem tiring. A person always feels tired or worn out by all the distressing thoughts that have been weighing them down.There is a loss of energy and 

6. Difficulty in concentrating

A diminished ability to concentrate properly, to think, or difficulty in decision-making nearly every day is one of the characteristics of depression. It becomes difficult to focus on everyday tasks be it work, school, studies, or examinations, depression brings loss of reproductivity in the several phases of life.

7. Difficulty in sleep

One other thing that depression affects a person’s life physically is by causing difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep. In cases of insomnia, a state of trouble falling asleep, a person might stay awake the whole night and end up jeopardizing their mind and body health.

8. Difficulty in maintaining self-care

People suffering from depression or any other kinds of severe mental conditions tend to have a reduced sense of self-care or no self-care at all. The effect of depression on the mind could affect a person’s ability to perceive their surroundings clearly, causing them to ignore even basic personal hygiene such as brushing their teeth or taking a bath.

9. A feeling of worthlessness

Depression tends to have this effect on people where they tend to forget about themselves. In a way, a person feels empty inside due to an extremely low sense of self-esteem caused by depression. A person suffering from depression may even belittle or berate themselves for the problems of hiding themselves responsible for making their life miserable.

10. Recurrent suicidal thoughts or thoughts about self-harm

In almost every severe case of depression, it may disturb a person at their breathing point. They tend to develop tendencies of self and start having suicidal thoughts. In the case of teenagers suicide rates are high due to exam pressure or cases like bullying whereas in the case of adults related problems seem to push people to take drastic steps.

Recurrent thoughts about death, and ideas about suicide with or without a plan to take their lives are very common.

What does the research convey about depression?

Research in the field of psychology and physiology has stated that the brain chemistry of people suffering from depression is different from others who do not have depression. Depression has the ability to alter the brain chemistry of people, changing or altering their thoughts hence more confusion and lack of clarity occur in thinking.

The research was conducted by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a brain imaging technology/technique that has shown the difference in the brains of people with and without depression. Parts of the brain are responsible for regulating emotions, moods, sleeping, thinking, and reasoning, etc tend to behave abnormally. However, there is still a lack of clarity in determining the causes and effects of depression and things responses to it.

What are the treatments for depression?

Depression, irrespective of its severity, can be completely treated with the right and timely treatment. As soon as it can be diagnosed and treated the better the outcome is going to be.

Several different ways can be used to treat depression such as;

The most highly effective method of treatment is to use a combination of medication and therapeutic techniques.


The use of drug therapy tends to be proven effective in treating the mind which has been affected by depression. Drugs such as antidepressants are commonly prescribed by doctors which can be said to be the cure for the brain. It works by relieving the distressing symptoms of depression.


Psychotherapy is used to treat and help with a person’s thought process altered during depression.CBT(Cognitive behavioral therapy) is a form of therapy that focuses on identifying the pattern of thoughts and negative associations of emotions behind depression.CBT works by breaking this association of bad things with good things.CBT is an effective method in treating people with depressive disorders.

MBT(Mindfulness-based therapy)is also utilized to treat depression.MBT relies on focusing and encouraging the use of mindful practices to prevent the further occurrence of depressive episodes.

Yoga and Meditation

Meditation such as yoga and breathing exercises are proven methods to deal with symptoms of depression. Meditation helps relax the mind and helps in focus on our bodily sensations. These methods help to deal with depressive symptoms by promoting clarity in thinking.

The road to recovery!

Bottomline is that depression, despite its severity and several risk factors, is a highly treatable disorder if treated with the right approach as early as possible. In several cases, depression is found to be treated with the intervention of drug therapy. The treatment and recovery process of depression entirely depends upon the consistency of the treatment process. If detected and diagnosed early a person tends to be completely treated without the occurrence of depression later in life. There are always some signs to be noticed by close people of the person suffering from depression, The key is to notice and report the symptoms is one way we can help the person.

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