Depression

Depression

A mental health disorder characterised by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.

Very common

  • More than 10 million cases per year (India)
  • Treatable by a medical professional
  • Medium-term: resolves within months
  • Requires a medical diagnosis
  • Lab tests or imaging rarely required

Possible causes include a combination of biological, psychological and social sources of distress. Increasingly, research suggests that these factors may cause changes in brain function, including altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain.

The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterises major depression can lead to a range of behavioural and physical symptoms. These may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behaviour or self-esteem. Depression can also be associated with thoughts of suicide.

The mainstay of treatment is usually medication, talk therapy or a combination of the two. Increasingly, research suggests that these treatments may normalise brain changes associated with depression.

Ages Affected

0-2 Never
3-5 Rare
6-13 Common
14-18 Very common
19-40 Very common
41-60 Very common
60+ Very common

SYMPTOMS

Requires a medical diagnosis

The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterises major depression can lead to a range of behavioural and physical symptoms. These may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behaviour or self-esteem. Depression can also be associated with thoughts of suicide.

People may experience:

Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness
Sleep: early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep
Whole body: excessive hunger, fatigue, loss of appetite, or restlessness
Behavioural: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, or social isolation
Cognitive: lack of concentration, slowness in activity, or thoughts of suicide
Weight: weight gain or weight loss
Also common: poor appetite or repeatedly going over thoughts

TREATMENTS

Therapies

Cognitive behavioral therapy
A talk therapy focused on modifying negative thoughts, behaviours and emotional responses associated with psychological distress.

Behaviour therapy
A therapy focused on modifying harmful behaviours associated with psychological distress.

Psychotherapy
Treatment of mental or behavioural disorders through talk therapy.

Medications

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)
Eases symptoms of depressed mood and anxiety.

Antidepressant
Prevents or relieves depression and elevates mood.

Anxiolytic
Relieves anxiety and tension. May promote sleep.

Medical procedure

Electroconvulsive therapy

Treating mental illness by sending electric currents through the brain to trigger a seizure. Also known as shock treatment.

Specialists

Clinical Psychologist
Treats mental disorders primarily with talk therapy.

Psychiatrist
Treats mental disorders primarily with medications.

Primary Care Provider (PCP)
Prevents, diagnoses and treats diseases.

Emergency Medicine Doctor
Treats patients in the emergency department.