What Is Depression

Depression is a common disorder affecting at least 10% of the population directly at some stage or other in their lives. In addition to the marked impact it may have on many facets of the patient's life and that of the family, mood disorders in their many subtle guises have had a major influence on the artistic, political, religious and financial spheres of most cultures. These brief introductory notes outline the different types of depression and how they are treated. If you would like to know more about the subject you can obtain a recommended reading list from Aware.

What is Depression?
The word depression has many different meanings but in a psychiatric context it is used in two specific ways. It is frequently used by patients to describe their feelings of emotional distress and in this sense it is regarded as a symptom. Depression is also a diagnosis which a doctor might make when a patient complains of several symptoms such as feelings of sadness and fatigue, having a disturbed sleep, poor appetite and lack of interest. Though there are many different symptoms present when a depressive disorder is diagnosed the symptom "depression" is just one of these. Sometimes, however, when a diagnosis of depression is made the patient may not actually feel depressed. In many cases a person who is depressed may not realise the nature of the problem and they may need a doctor to tell them that their excessive fatigue or anxiety is actually depression. Everybody gets feelings of sadness or depression and for most these are short-lived and tolerable. Such feelings, or "normal depressions ", occur most frequently in response to the disappointments of everyday life and to a lesser extent our mood fluctuates with the seasons and in response to hormonal factors. Depression which is particularly severe or prolonged and is more than the person is able to cope with is considered an "abnormal depression" or a depressive disorder.

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