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Depression can severely adversely impact a person's life, affecting health, sleep, work, and relationships. It is a serious illness and recognizing the early warning signs so treatment can commence is important. Depression in older adults can cause confusion or forgetfulness and has been linked as a significant risk factor in this population for heart problems.

Symptoms of Depression Include:

  • Feelings of sadness, irritability, or stress
  • Decreased interest or activities that used to be pleasurable
  • Loss of energy
  • A change in appetite
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Restlessness or feeling lethargic
  • Trouble with concentration
  • Feelings hopeless or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Causes of Depression

Depression often occurs because of a combination of factors. It is related to physical changes in the brain and connected to an imbalance in neurotransmitter chemicals. Two naturally occurring chemicals in the brain - serotonin and norephinephrine are believed to be at the center of the mood symptoms of depression. Depression sufferers will experience both emotional and physical symptoms.

Factors That May Contribute to Depression Include:

  • Family history of depression - genetics
  • Trauma and stress - financial problems, relationship problems, grief and loss, job stress and situational live changes
  • Pessimistic personality - focusing on the negative, low self-esteem
  • Medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and HIV can contribute to depression
  • Other psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and (especially) substance abuse often appear along with depression

Common Types of Depression

Dysthymia - Individuals with dysthymia feel a mild form of depression on most days over a period of at least two years. The symptoms resemble major depression, but with less severity.

Cyclothymia - Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar II disorder consisting of recurrent mood disturbances between hypomania and dysthymic mood. In other words the highs don't get as high as bipolar and the lows don't get as low as major depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder - Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are the same as experienced with any major depressive episode. These symptoms occur during certain seasons of they year. Typically it occurs during seasons with little sunlight.

Postpartum Depression - This type of depression that can occur in women who have recently given birth. The onset is usually within the first few months after delivery, but it can occur anytime within the first year after giving birth. The symptoms are those seen with any major depressive episode. Postpartum depression can interfere with the mother's ability to bond with her newborn.

Premenstrual Dysphoric disorder (PMDD) - PMDD diagnosed when a woman suffers from emotional and physical premenstrual depression symptoms that seriously adversely effect her daily life, mood and relationships.

Bipolar disorder - Bipolar disorder is marked by severe mood swings. The moods swing from very low (depression) to very high (mania).




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