Depression Fact Sheet: What You Need To Know

What is Depression?

  • It is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.

  • It causes feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

What are the risk factors?

  • Genetic Predisposition.
  • Personality.
  • Stress.
  • Brain chemistry.
  • Environmental Factors: Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty make some people more vulnerable

What are the symptoms?

anhedonia is a symptom of depression
  • Feeling sad or having a low mood.

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed (anhedonia).

  • Changes in appetite- weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting.

  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.

  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue.

  • Increase in restless activity ( pacing or hand wringing) or slowed movements and speech.

  • Feeling worthless or guilty.

  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions.

  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

  • The symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.

  • Women are more likely than men to experience depression.

How can it be treated?

  • Medication.

  • Psychotherapy or ‘Talk Therapy’.

  • Electro-convulsive therapy

Self help mechanisms include:

  • Regular exercise.

  • Eating a healthy diet.

  • Avoiding alcohol

Summary

  • Depression is a state of low mood that can affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, behaviour and sense of well being.

  • Major risk factors are genetic predisposition and environmental factors.

  • It can lead to emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

  • It is a treatable illness.

  • If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, the first step is to see a family physician or psychiatrist to get help.

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 Resources:

American Psychiatric Association

By Omonijo MO, MBBS