If you become ill, usually you can pinpoint a reason. A stiff, swollen joint, for example, might be due to injury or to a chronic disease like arthritis, while an upset stomach might be due to food poisoning. The causes of depression are harder to pin down. And unfortunately, they
Depression goes far beyond the occasional feelings of sadness. The depression definition that mental health experts use is a persistently down mood and loss of interest that affects a person?s day-to-day life, and can even lead to thoughts of suicide. The condition is also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, and it affects nearly 15 million Americans. Although depression typically starts in the 20s or 30s, it can affect people of all ages. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to depression because of illness and the loss of loved ones.
Many different types of depression exist. Postpartum depression is a sad mood that begins in the weeks or months after a woman gives birth. Bipolar disorder alternates periods of depression with unusually high moods. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that emerges during the winter months, when sunlight is in short supply.
Identifying depression is the first step toward treating it. Depression symptoms include: feeling sad, anxious, hopeless, guilty, or anxious; fatigue or decreased energy; loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed; trouble concentrating or remembering; trouble sleeping or sleeping too much; loss of appetite, or eating too much; irritability; vague physical symptoms, such as a headache or stomachache; and thoughts of death, or wanting to end your life.
Doctors typically diagnose depression by first ruling out medical conditions that can cause the same symptoms, such as a thyroid disorder. Then the doctor will likely do a depression test, asking questions about feelings, sleep, energy level, and other common indicators of the disease.
Treatment for depression depends on the type, but typically involves antidepressant medication and talk therapy (psychotherapy). Both of these treatments may be combined to improve the odds of success.
Q: A friend of mine takes an antidepressant that affects serotonin. What is serotonin, and what does it do?
A: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter—a chemical that transmits messages between neurons in the brain and to the central nervous system. Serotonin has been described as a “feel-good” neurotransmitter, since it is believed
Almost twice as many women as men suffer from depression, and about one in five women develop depression at some point in their lifetimes. However, many women do not seek help.
“Often, people don’t recognize that they may be suffering from depression,” says Susan Evans, PhD, Professor of Psychology in Clinical
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A: Many studies conducted over the past decade or so have demonstrated that sleep deprivation interferes with memory
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If you’ve been feeling bone pain, your doctor may take one look at that stiff, swollen joint or that loss of motion and suspect that what you’ve got is the inevitable onset of age-related osteoarthritis (OA) or the autoimmune disorder that leads to rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
But to refine that diagnosis,
Getting a cancer diagnosis is distressing enough, but for some people, concerns about treating the cancer with chemotherapy can be equally as troubling.
A woman might worry about how chemotherapy for breast cancer may cause hair loss or otherwise alter her appearance. Or a man might be concerned about how chemotherapy
Forgetfulness—a part of aging as familiar as wrinkles and graying hair—can be a source of worry for many seniors. Is the growing tendency to forget words, have difficulty recalling names, or lose track of the car keys normal or an early sign of dementia?
The good news is that in most
Depression—a mood disorder that affects an estimated one in 10 Americans at some point in their lives—is a complex mental health condition that comes in a variety of forms, each with distinct characteristics.
“The concept of ‘depression’ is actually a broad category that includes multiple diagnoses,” explains Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD,