Information for Patients
Depression is a serious medical illness. It's more than just a feeling of being sad or "blue" for a few days. If you are one of the more than 19 million teens and adults in the United States who have depression, the feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms can include
- Feeling sad or "empty"
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
- Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Feeling very tired
- Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression is a disorder of the brain. There are a variety of causes, including genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Depression can happen at any age, but it often begins in teens and young adults. It is much more common in women. Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Depression is one part of bipolar disorder.
There are effective treatments for depression, including antidepressants, talk therapy, or both.
NIH: National Institute of Mental Health
Depression Depression (also known as major depression or major depressive disorder) is a psychiatric disorder that affects mood, behavior, and overall health. It causes prolonged feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed. People with depression may also have changes in appetite (leading to overeating or not eating enough), changes in sleeping patterns (sleeping too much or not being able to sleep), loss of energy, and difficulty concentrating. Although depression is considered primarily a mental health disorder, it can also have physical features including headaches, other unexplained aches and pains, unusually slow or fast movements, and digestive problems. To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have signs and symptoms nearly every day for at least 2 weeks. However, the features of this condition vary widely.Depression most commonly begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, although it can appear at any age. If untreated, episodes of depression can last for weeks, months, or years, and can go away and come back (recur). Affected individuals may have difficulty functioning in their daily lives, including at school or work. People with depression have a higher risk of substance abuse problems and dying by suicide than the general population.Several health conditions are closely related to depression or have depression as a characteristic feature. These include dysthymia (which has long-lasting signs and symptoms that are similar to, but not as severe as, those of depression), perinatal or postpartum depression (which occurs around or following the birth of a child), seasonal affective disorder (which is triggered by the changing of the seasons), bipolar disorder (which can include both "highs," or manic episodes, and depressive episodes), and generalized anxiety disorder. In people with schizoaffective disorder, depression or another mood disorder occurs together with features of schizophrenia (a brain disorder that affects a person's thinking, sense of self, and perceptions).