Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless. They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, or problems concentrating, remembering details or making decisions; and may contemplate or attempt suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may be present.
Depressed mood is a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions (e.g., Addison’s disease,hypothyroidism), various medical treatments (e.g., hepatitis C drug therapy), and a feature of certain psychiatric syndromes.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The following may play a role in depression:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Certain medical conditions, including underactive thyroid, cancer, or long-term pain
- Certain medications such as steroids
- Sleeping problems
- Stressful life events, such as:
- Breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend
- Failing a class
- Death or illness of someone close to you
- Childhood abuse or neglect
- Job loss
- Social isolation (common in the elderly)
Depression can change or distort the way you see yourself, your life, and those around you.
People who have depression usually see everything with a more negative attitude, unable to imagine that any problem or situation can be solved in a positive way.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
- Dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
- Very difficult to concentrate
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt
- Becoming withdrawn or isolated
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping
Depression can appear as anger and discouragement, rather than feelings of sadness.
If depression is very severe, there may also be psychotic symptoms, such as hallucination and delusions.