Depression is a medical illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest, and that may also cause physical symptoms. There are many designations for depression, such as major depression, major depressive disorder and clinical depression.

This illness interferes with how the patient feels, thinks and behaves, and it can lead to substantial emotional and physical problems. Doing simple quotidian tasks can become a problem, as persons affected by depression usually lack motivation and don’t feel like life is worth living.

It’s important to be aware that in general that depression is not a weakness, nor is it a matter of just having the blues. Another misconception is thinking that one can just tune out of depression. People should keep in mind that depression is a chronic disease that typically needs to be treated in the course of time, just like diseases as diabetes or hypertension. Nowadays, with the proper treatments, medication and psychological advice, depression can be alleviated.

Depression symptoms

Each individual is differently affected by depression, so its symptoms are also experienced differently by each person. Factors like age, gender or cultural background will influence the effect of depression in the patient.

Even so, the most common depression symptoms include: feelings of sadness, irritability or frustration, reduced sex drive, loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, insomnia or too much sleeping, changes in appetite, agitation, angry outbursts and slowed thinking.

Depressed individuals also experience indecisiveness, decreased concentration, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt. They tend do fixate on past failures or blaming themselves when things aren’t going right. Having trouble thinking,  making decisions and recalling things is also common, as well as having recurrent thoughts of death, dying or suicide and crying spells for no apparent reason.

Causes of depression

As it happens with many cases of mental illness, there is no exact known cause for depression, and many factors can be involved.

An apparent factor is the presence of biological differences in people with depression, as they appear to have physical changes in the brain, although the relevance of it is still not certain. Neurotransmitters may also play a role, as they are natural brain chemicals linked to mood.

Alterations in the balance of hormones, for example in thyroid problems or menopause, can cause or trigger depression. Investigation also showed that depression occurs more in those who have biological relatives with the disease, but scientists are still trying to identify which genes can be involved in the disease.

Traumatic incidents during childhood, the loss of a loved one, financial ruptures or excessive stress are also considered possible triggers for depression. Now, researchers are also finding a direct correlation between obesity and depression.

Medication and treatments for depression

There are numerous treatments available for depression, most people get better medication and/or psychotherapy. Sometimes a generalist doctor can prescribe meds for depressions symptoms, but it’s advisable to visit a specialist in diagnose of mental illness in general and depression in particular – this can be a psychologist or a different mental health counselor. A combination between medication and psychotherapy uses to be an effective treatment for most people with depression.

For those who suffer from depression as a result of obesity, new studies are showing positive effects on depression after bariatric surgery has been conducted and weight has been lost as a result.

Investigations are being carried out in order to discover ways to identify some kinds of depression through biomarkers by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center that wish to discover treatment possibilities more helpful for each patient.  At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas depression is also being researched, as they recently reported productivity in working environments is improved when employees with depression receive early treatments.