Depression is a mental health disorder involving mood fluctuations that can interfere with a person’s daily activities. It comes with a feeling of loss, sadness, anger, and hopelessness.

SYMPTOMS

  • Feeling sad, empty and hopeless
  • Angry outbursts, irritability and frustration
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in most activities you usually enjoy
  • Sleeping less or too much
  • Reduced appetite or increased craving for food
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking or body movement
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Trouble remembering things or making decisions
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide attempts
  • Unexplained physical pains

CAUSES

There’s no known cause for depression but as with other mental health disorder, a number of factors may be involved such as;

  • Early childhood trauma
  • A history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Family history
  • Certain medical conditions such as chronic pain, insomnia
  • Hormones can trigger depression during pregnancy or the weeks after delivery
  • Biological differences: the physical differences in the brain although the significance of this change to depression is uncertain
  • Brain chemistry: neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression

RISK FACTORS

  • Personality trait such as low self-esteem, dependency and being pessimistic
  • Traumatic or stressful event like the loss of a love one
  • Family history
  • History of other mental disorder like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Chronic illness such as cancer, stroke or heart disease
  • Certain medications such as sleeping pills or high blood pressure medication

DIAGNOSIS

  • Physical exam
  • Lab tests
  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V)

TREATMENT

  • Anti-depressant medications
  • Psychotherapy

COMPLICATIONS

  • Terrible toll on life if left untreated
  • Obesity
  • Pain/physical illness
  • Alcohol/drug misuse
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Isolation
  • Suicide attempts
  • Self-mutilation

PREVENTION

There is no prevention, but certain steps can be taken:

  • Control stress
  • Reach out to family and friends
  • Get treatment at earliest sign
  • Consider getting long-term maintenance treatment to prevent relapse

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