Depression is a common yet complex mental health condition affecting more than 16 million adults and 3 million adolescents in the US each year. Signs of severe depression in teenagers with depression feel sad, empty, or hopeless much of the time. It saps the joy of being with friends and family.
Some cases of depression have a genetic component, but lots of factors beyond an inherited tendency can spur and aggravate depression symptoms, including various environmental factors. Sometimes people don’t acknowledge or recognize depression in themselves or others, so they fail to seek help from a health care professional. Depression can wreck lives, friendships, and marriages and pose problems at school or work. Some people may turn to alcohol or drugs to ease their pain or consider some form of self-harm or suicide as an escape. If you’re feeling depressed or suspect a loved one is struggling with depression, it’s important to reach out for help as soon as possible. Most cases, even severe depression, can be successfully treated.
Types of depression Major depressive disorder or major depression is another name for classic depression, the type that thrusts people into a dark mood. To be diagnosed with major depression, you must have symptoms that interfere with daily life nearly every day for at least two weeks. Persistent depressive disorder is a common, long-lasting form of depression characterized by low mood. People have symptoms for two years or more, but they aren’t as disruptive as in major depression. Medication- or alcohol-induced depression is a mood change caused by the use or abuse or alcohol, certain medications, and illicit drugs. Also called substance-induced depression, symptoms may occur when someone stops taking certain medicines or drugs too. It’s normal for these diagnoses to be emotional, but if mood changes linger for more than a couple of weeks, you might have depression.
Kids with DMDD are at risk for developing anxiety disorders and depression in adulthood. Bipolar depression, also known as manic-depressive illness, is characterized by unusually wide swings in mood and energy, including periods of depression. Women may experience extreme sadness and have difficulty caring for themselves or their new babies. Men can have postpartum depression too. Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is also known as seasonal depression.
This type of recurring depression commonly strikes in a seasonal pattern, usually during the fall or winter, and disappears in the spring or summer. The exact causes of depression are unclear. Experts think there may be multiple factors involved. Many times, it’s the intermingling of two or more of these factors that bring on depression or make it worse. Certain gene mutations may impede the ability of nerve cells in the brain to communicate effectively. Depression is often described as a chemical imbalance in the brain, but it’s not quite as simple as being too low or too high in one chemical or another.
There are many ways brain chemistry is linked to depression. For example, women are more likely than men to develop depression, perhaps due to fluctuating hormone levels. Overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol has also been linked to depression. A person’s temperament and upbringing are among the psychological and social factors that may influence how he or she reacts to stressful situations and views the world. As a result, some people may be more vulnerable to depression. Stressful life events, such as a childhood trauma, relationship conflicts, and loss, may alter brain function in ways that make a person susceptible to depression. Depression often goes hand-in-hand with certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Certain medicines are tied to depression. Depression symptoms People think of depression as a bad case of the blues. In truth, it’s more complex than that. Depression can alter how people think, feel, and behave, and it can even produce physical symptoms. Depression can look very different from one person to another. Men are more likely to feel tired, irritable, or angry, and they may abuse alcohol and drugs.