The disorder depression is a feeling of sadness intense enough to interfere with functioning and/or a decreased interest or pleasure in activities.

It may follow a recent loss or other sad event but is out of proportion to that event and lasts beyond an appropriate length of time.

Heredity, side effects of drugs, emotionally distressing events, changes in levels of hormones or other substances in the body, and other factors can contribute to depression.

Depression can make the individual sad and sluggish and/or lose all interest and pleasure in activities they used to enjoy.

Medical professionals base the diagnosis on symptoms.

Antidepressants, psychotherapy, and sometimes electroconvulsive therapy can help.

Individuals often use the term depression to describe the sad or discouraged mood that results from emotionally distressing events, such as a natural disaster, a serious illness, or death of a loved one.

They may also say they feel depressed at certain times, such as during the holidays (holiday blues) or on the anniversary of a loved one’s death.

However, such feelings do not usually represent a disorder. Usually, these feelings are temporary, lasting days rather than weeks or months, and occur in waves that tend to be tied to thoughts or reminders of the distressing event.

Also, these feelings do not substantially interfere with functioning for any length of time.

After anxiety, depression is the most common mental health disorder. About 30% of individuals who visit a primary care practitioner have symptoms of depression, but fewer than 10% of these have major depression.

Depression typically develops during an individual’s mid teens, 20’s, or 30’s, although depression can begin at almost any age, including during childhood.

An episode of depression, if untreated, typically lasts about six (6) months but sometimes lasts for two (2) years or more. Episodes tend to recur several times over a lifetime.

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