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Depression
Depression is a "whole-body" illness, involving your body, mood, and thoughts. Itaffects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way youthink about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. Itis not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away.People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and getbetter. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years.Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression. The symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, and also depend onthe severity of the depression. Depression causes changes in thinking, feeling,behavior, and physical well-being.
Changes in Thinking
- You may experience problems with concentrationand decision making. Some people report difficulty with short term memory,forgetting things all the time. Negative thoughts and thinking arecharacteristic of depression. Pessimism, poor self-esteem, excessive guilt,and self-criticism are all common. Some people have self-destructivethoughts during a more serious depression.
Changes in Feelings
- You may feel sad for no reason at all. Some peoplereport that they no longer enjoy activities that they once found pleasurable. You might lack motivation, and become more apathetic. You might feel"slowed down" and tired all the time. Sometimes irritability is a problem, andyou may have more difficulty controlling your temper. In the extreme,depression is characterized by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Changes in Behavior
- Changes in behavior during depression are reflectiveof the negative emotions being experienced. You might act more apathetic,because that's how you feel. Some people do not feel comfortable with otherpeople, so social withdrawal is common. You may experience a dramaticchange in appetite, either eating more or less. Because of the chronicsadness, excessive crying is common. Some people complain abouteverything, and act out their anger with temper outbursts. Sexual desire maydisappear, resulting in lack of sexual activity. In the extreme, people mayneglect their personal appearance, even neglecting basic hygiene. Needlessto say, someone who is this depressed does not do very much, so workproductivity and household responsibilities suffer. Some people even havetrouble getting out of bed.
Changes in Physical Well-being
- We already talked about the negativeemotional feelings experienced during depression, but these are coupled withnegative physical emotions as well. Chronic fatigue, despite spending moretime sleeping, is common. Some people can't sleep, or don't sleep soundly. These individuals lay awake for hours, or awaken many times during thenight, and stare at the ceiling. Others sleep many hours, even most of theday, although they still feel tired. Many people lose their appetite, feel sloweddown by depression, and complain of many aches and pains. Others arerestless, and can't sit still.Now imagine these symptoms lasting for weeks or even months. Imagine feelingthis way almost all of the time. Depression is present if you experience many of 
 
`these symptoms for at least several weeks. Of course, it's not a good idea todiagnose yourself. If you think that you might be depressed, see a psychologist assoon as possible. A psychologist can assess whether you are depressed, or justunder a lot of stress and feeling sad. Remember, depression is treatable. Instead of worrying about whether you are depressed, do something about it. Even if you don'tfeel like it right now.
Types of Depression:
 There are several different types of depression. Often they are distinguished bytheir prevalent features, duration and severity of symptoms. Most of these kinds of depression are defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM), an American Psychiatric Association publication which describes thestandard criteria for different types of psychiatric disorders. The following three different kinds of depression are distinct depressive disordersdescribed in the DSM. A common criteria is that their symptoms either cause 1)significant distress or 2) impair one’s functioning (e.g. work, school, relationships).Also, these depressive symptoms are not caused by a medical condition orsubstance (e.g. medication, drug).
Major Depressive Disorder
(also known as Major Depression, Clinical Depression)– A major depressive episode occurs with symptoms that last for most of the day,nearly every day for at least two weeks. A symptom must either be 1) depressedmood or 2) a noticeable decrease in interest or pleasure in all or most activities. Atleast four (or more) additional symptoms are present:
significant weight loss / weight gain or decrease / increase in appetite
difficulty sleeping or increase in sleeping
excessive movement or slowing down associated with mental tension(observed by others)
fatigue or loss of energy
feeling worthless or excessive guilt
difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
repeatedly thinking about death or suicide, trying to attempt suicide orhaving a specific plan to commit suicide
Dysthymic Disorder
(or also referred to as Dysthymia) – Nearly constantdepressed mood for at least 2 years accompanied by at least two (or more) of thefollowing:
decrease or increase in eating
difficulty sleeping or increase in sleeping
low energy or fatigue
low self-esteem
difficulty concentrating or making decisions
feeling hopeless
 
`Symptoms do not occur for more than two months at a time. Generally, this type of depression is described as having persistent but less severe depressive symptomsthan Major Depression.
Manic Depression
(now known as Bipolar Disorder) – This kind of depressionincludes periods of mania and depression. Cycling between these two states can berapid or only mania can be present without any depressive episodes. A manicepisode consists of a persistent elevated or irritable mood that is extreme, whichlasts for at least one week. At least three (four if only irritable mood) other featuresare also present:
inflated self-esteem or self-importance
decreased need for sleep
more talkative than usual or compelled to keep talking
experiencing racing thoughts or ideas
easily distracted
increase in goal-oriented activity (social, work, school, sexual) or excessivemovement
excessive involvement in potentially risky pleasurable behavior (e.g. overspending, careless sexual activity, unwise business investments)Symptoms can be severe enough to warrant hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others or include psychotic features (e.g. hallucinations, delusions).
Other Types of Depressive Categories
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
– A type of depressive disorderwhich is characterized by episodes of major depression which reoccur at aspecific time of the year (e.g. fall, winter). In the past two years,depressive periods occur at least two times without any episodes thatoccur at a different time.
Anxiety Depression
- Not an official depression type (as defined by theDSM). However, anxiety often also occurs with depression. In this case, adepressed individual may also experience anxiety symptoms (e.g. panicattacks) or an anxiety disorder (e.g. PTSD, panic disorder, social phobia,generalized anxiety disorder).
Atypical Depression
(Sub-type of Major Depression or Dysthymia) -Characterized by a temporary improvement in mood in reaction to positiveevents and two (or more) of the following:
significant weight gain or increase in appetite
over sleeping
heavy feeling in arms or legs
long standing pattern of sensitivity to rejection
Chronic Depression
– Major depressive episode that lasts for at least twoyears.
Double Depression
– Someone who has Dysthymia (chronic milddepression) and also experiences a major depressive episode (more severe

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