Sadness, feeling down, having a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities – these are symptoms familiar to all of us. But, if they persist and affect our life substantially, it may be depression. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), depression is the most common illness worldwide and the leading cause of disability. Depression seems to be more common among women than men. They estimate that more then 350 million people are affected by depression, globally.
Symptoms of depression:
- depressed mood
- reduced interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, loss of sexual desire
- unintentional weight loss (without dieting) or low appetite
- insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
- psychomotor agitation, for example, restlessness, pacing up and down
- delayed psychomotor skills, for example, slowed movement and speech
- fatigue or loss of energy
- feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- impaired ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions
- recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or attempt at suicide
Causes of depression:
The causes of depression are not fully understood and may not be down to a single source. Depression is likely to be due to a complex combination of factors that include:
- biological – changes in neurotransmitter levels
- psychological and social (psychosocial)
- Life events: These include bereavement, divorce, work issues, relationships with friends and family, financial problems, medical concerns, or acute stress.
- Personality: Those with less successful coping strategies, or previous life trauma are more suceptible.
- Genetic factors: Having a first-degree relatives with depression increases the risk.
- Childhood trauma.
- Some prescription drugs: These include corticosteroids, some beta-blockers, interferon, and other prescription drugs.
- Abuse of recreational drugs: Abuse of alcohol, amphetamines, and other drugs are strongly linked to depression.
- A past head injury.
- Having had one episode of major depression: This increases the risk of a subsequent one.
- Chronic pain syndromes: These and other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease make depression more likely.