Depression is more than just a “down mood.” It’s a condition that can be characterized by the persistence of several symptoms, including feelings of sadness, emptiness, and isolation. But the good news is that doctors are developing a better understanding of depression, which has led to new treatments to help people struggling with depression regain
There is no single cause for depression. Experts believe that a combination of three factors—genetics, the environment, and perhaps (although this has never been clearly proven) chemical imbalances in the brain—work together to cause depression.Depression can strike anyone regardless of age, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, or gender; studies have found that depression is about twice as common in women as in men.
A normal, functioning brain is a messaging system that controls all bodily functions. Communication within the brain is enabled through billions of cells called neurons. These cells send and receive messages from the rest of your body and with each other. To do this, they release chemicals called neurotransmitters, which communicate with other cells across a
gap between them. This gap is called a synapse. When the brain is working normally, the neurons release the proper amount of functioning chemical messengers to communicate. But, when a person has depression, the chemical messengers are speculated to perhaps either not function correctly, or not be present in normal quantities.
Symptoms of Depression
- The following are the classic symptoms of depression:
- Loss of interest in normal daily activities
- Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or sadness, including crying spells
- Loss of energy and the ability to concentrate
- Problems sleeping
- Feeling useless or inadequate for an extended period
- Significant weight loss or gain, or extended periods of indigestion
- Fatigue or headaches for extending periods
- Decrease in sexual activity for an extended period of time
- Harming oneself or thoughts of death or suicide