Each year, about 9.9 American adults suffer from it. That is approximately five percent of the total adult population, give or take a few.
Major depression is unlike the normal feelings of sadness, loss, or passing mood states that most people have. The condition is more persistent and because of that persistence, it could significantly interfere with your thoughts, behavior, mood, activity, and even physical health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), major depression is set to become the second leading cause of disability in the world, after heart illness.
What are the Symptoms?
The onset of major depression may be gradual so the symptoms are not immediately obvious. However, some of the signs to look out for to determine whether you are suffering from major depression or not include the following:
* Persistently sad mood, or high irritability
* Marked changes in normal habits, including sleep and appetite
* Pronounced changes in energy; often low energy almost daily
* Feelings of being “slowed down" or agitation
* Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
* Persistent feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness
* Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
* Persistent physical symptoms like headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain with no known cause and do not respond to treatment
If you experience several of these symptoms of major depression and they occur at the same time for approximately longer than two weeks, and in such a way that they interfere with ordinary functioning, then do not hesitate to ask for professional treatment.
What are the Causes?
The causes of major depression are varied and the events that led to the development of the condition are sometimes too numerous to pinpoint a single one as the definitive cause. There are usually many factors involved – physical, biological, and even environmental factors all play a role.
According to scientific research, however, major depression is primarily a brain disorder. The problem could be traced back to three chemicals or neurotransmitters, which serve as messengers that transmit electric signals between brain cells. These are norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.
A person suffering from major depression often exhibits a chemical imbalance between these three neurotransmitters, thus producing a clinical state where depression occurs. In order to compensate for the imbalance, antidepressant drugs are introduced. These drugs work by increasing the availability of neurotransmitters or by changing the sensitivity of the receptors for these chemical messengers.
It is not enough however to treat major depression through psychotherapeutic drugs alone. Some individuals may respond better to cognitive therapy wherein they are given assistance in coping with the problem areas of their lives that contribute to depression. Additionally, persons with major depression may respond to treatment combining both approaches of medication and therapy.
Milos Pesic is a successful webmaster and owner of popular and comprehensive Overcome Depression blog. For more articles and resources on Depression related topics, visit his blog at: