What is Major Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that causes symptoms such as hopelessness, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities. Major depression, depression, clinical depression, and depressive disorder are all names for the same disorder. Approximately 322 million people live with depression around the world.

The intensity of depression symptoms can range from mild to severe. The most severe cases can prove to be fatal through suicide. People who believe that themselves or a loved one may have depression should come to understand the possible causes, variety of symptoms, and treatment options.

The most important things for all people to know about depression are that it is a very serious disorder and that people can heal from it with help.


Symptoms of Depression

Depression symptoms vary widely between patients and with each period of depression in the same patient. However, the symptoms remain common and signal that someone needs professional care:

  • Sad, hopeless, or empty feelings
  • Drastic changes in sleeping patterns
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Feelings of worthlessness or undue guilt
  • Trouble concentrating on school, conversations, or work
  • Fatigue, even with enough sleep
  • Not feeling interested in hobbies they once loved
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

If you or someone you love experiences thoughts of suicide, seek emergency care. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. 

When people experience five or more of the main depression symptoms for at least a few weeks, it rises to the level of a diagnosis.


What Causes Depression?

There is no singular cause for depression. Instead, people may develop the disorder for a variety of physical and environmental reasons. Sometimes, several different factors come together to cause depression. It’s best for individuals to work with mental health professionals to understand what brought about their depression. However, these are some of the common causes:

  • Traumatic or stressful life events
  • Underlying health conditions
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry

Is Depression Curable?

Depression can be a chronic disorder. However, some patients put their condition into remission for life. Others significantly decrease their symptoms with professional help. In fact, 80 percent of people who get treatment for depression see symptom relief in four to six weeks.

To get the right kind of treatment, you must know what kind of professionals to seek out when.

When to Seek Emergency Care

This message bears repeating.

If yourself or someone you love have thoughts of suicide, harming others, or harming themselves in any way, seek immediate medical attention in any of the following ways:

  • Go to the nearest emergency room
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
  • Text the Crisis Text Line at 741742

See a Therapist or Counselor

Therapists and counselors can help people with depression find health outlets for their feelings. These mental health professionals may use any combination of the following talk therapy techniques:

  • Psychoanalysis
  • Group therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Interpersonal, couples’, or family therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Experiential therapy

Counselors and therapists may also recommend psychiatrists when necessary.

Visit a Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists provide medical interventions for mental illnesses, including depression. Based on your symptoms, a psychiatrist may recommend antidepressants or other prescriptions. Some patients need both talk therapy and medication.

Find a Provider

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