is classified as a mood disorder, and may be described as feelings of sadness,
loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities. According to
the Centers for Disease Control and
depression affects one in 10 Americans.
experience depression in different ways. It can often interfere with your daily
work and relationships. Depression can result in lost time at work and lower productivity.
It also can influence some chronic health conditions. Arthritis, asthma,
cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity can all worsen with
is important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life.
Sad and distressful events occur in everyone’s life. However, feeling miserable
and hopeless on a consistent basis is not normal.
Depression should be treated as a serious medical condition.
untreated, the condition may last for months or years. It can worsen over time.
Yet, those who seek treatment often see improvements in symptoms in just a few
has two main categories: clinical depression (also known as major depressive
disorder) and dysthymia. Depression ranges in seriousness from mild to
temporary episodes of sadness to severe, ongoing depression. Knowing which type
of depression you have can help your doctor determine the best course of treatment.
Clinical depression is regarded as the most severe form
of depression. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness,
hopelessness, and worthlessness that do not go away on their own. For a
diagnosis of clinical depression you must meet five or more of the following
symptoms over a two-week period.
depressed most of the day
of interest in most regular activities
weight loss or gain
too much or not being able to sleep
thinking or movement
or low energy most days
of worthlessness or guilt
of concentration or indecisiveness
thoughts of death or suicide
Dysthymia is a mild, but chronic, form of depression.
Symptoms often last for at least two years. Dysthymia can affect your life more
than clinical depression because it lasts for a longer period. You may lose
interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have
low self-esteem. People with dysthymia are often regarded as being always
critical, constantly complaining, and unable to have fun.
of depression and mood disorders may have unique characteristics or develop
under specific circumstances, making them difficult to classify. A few examples
are described below.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
the onset of depression at a certain time of year. SAD typically occurs during
the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. SAD typically subsides
in spring and summer. In some cases, however, SAD can become chronic.
This is a
type of moderate to severe depression experienced by women shortly after they
give birth. Feelings of anxiety and restlessness, often referred to as the
“baby blues,” are common in the 2-4 weeks following pregnancy. Postpartum
depression occurs when such feelings do not subside within one or more months
after childbirth. The NIMH
estimates that 10-15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after
This describes symptoms of depression
accompanied by some form of psychosis, such as delusions or hallucinations.
Bipolar is characterized by severe mood changes, ranging
from extreme highs (“mania”) and equally extreme lows. This disorder is also
known as manic depressive illness.