Depression: Causes, Signs, & Symptoms


Depression is a type of mood illness characterized by a continuous sense of melancholy and a loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think, and behave and can lead to a number of mental and physical difficulties. It’s also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression. You may find it difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks, and you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.

Major depression is a disorder that goes well beyond feeling sad or unhappy, and it may have a severe influence on an individual’s whole life. A person’s mood, thoughts, feelings, actions, and physical health are all affected by depression. Severe depression can lead to a loss of enjoyment in formerly pleasurable hobbies and/or social connections. People who are depressed experience a decrease in energy and motivation, which might affect their ability to be effective at work or school. Due to the tremendous misery and hopelessness that depression generates, depression – particularly untreated depression – is a substantial risk factor for suicide.

What Are the Types of Depressive Disorders?

Major Depressive Disorder: Dysthymia, which means “bad mood” in Greek, is characterized by a consistently melancholy demeanor as if the individual is constantly sad. The symptoms are less severe than those of major depression, yet they stay longer.

Atypical Depression: Atypical depression is difficult to recognize and can continue for years. Some frequent depression symptoms, such as a loss of appetite, are reversed; the person may have desires for chocolates or sweets.

Bipolar or Manic Depression: Bipolar disorder is defined by a person’s cycling between depression and manic episodes, during which he or she participates in a lot of activity and feels incredibly powerful and happy. The amount of time it takes to transition between stages varies from person to person.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD is a common ailment that affects people throughout the winter months. SAD patients experience anger and tiredness due to a lack of sunshine, exercise, and fresh air.

Postpartum Depression: Women who have just given birth are more likely to have postpartum depression. The start might begin as early as three months after delivery or as late as a year afterward. It ranges from mild to severe.

Psychotic Depression: Patients with psychotic depression experience psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations in addition to the depression. Any or all of the senses may be affected by hallucinations. The illusions are usually accompanied by emotions of unjustified shame or inadequacy.

What Causes Depression?

While there does not appear to be a single cause of depression, there are a variety of environmental, genetic, and physical factors that contribute to depression in one individual but not another. The following are some of the most often mentioned causes of depression:

  • Brain chemistry: In persons who suffer from depression, there may be a chemical imbalance in areas of the brain that control mood, thinking, sleep, hunger, and behavior.
  • Hormone levels: Changes in female hormones estrogen and progesterone at various stages of life, such as the monthly cycle, postpartum period, perimenopause, or menopause, can all increase a person’s risk of depression.
  • Family history: If you have a family history of depression or another mood illness, you are more likely to acquire it.
  • Genetics: Depression has been discovered to run in families, with persons who have a first-degree relative who suffers from the condition having a higher chance of developing the disorder than those who do not have a comparable family history. Many people who acquire depression, on the other hand, have no family history of the illness. According to research, rather than a single gene, sadness is most likely caused by a combination of genes acting together.
  • Early childhood trauma: Some experiences have an impact on how your body reacts to fear and stressful situations.
  • Brain structure: If the frontal lobe of your brain is less active, you are more likely to suffer from depression. However, experts are unsure whether this occurs before or after the beginning of depression symptoms.
  • Medical conditions: Certain disorders, such as chronic sickness, sleeplessness, chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, heart attack, and cancer, may put you at a higher risk.
  • Substance use: Your risk may be influenced by a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Pain: People who experience extended durations of emotional or chronic physical pain are substantially more prone to develop depression.

Depression symptoms

Depressive might go misdiagnosed for a long time since the symptoms a person encounters aren’t always clearly identified as depression symptoms. Depression symptoms and indicators differ depending on age, length of symptoms, and temperament. Depression can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including:

Mood symptoms:

  • Depressed mood almost every day for long periods of time
  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness or remorse for no apparent reason
  • Loss of desire or interest in sexual activity

Physical symptoms:

  • Lack of energy
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Increase or decrease in sleep
  • Somatic complaints, in particular pain
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Irritability

Psychological symptoms:

  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of self esteem
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Distractibility
  • Lack of motivation
  • Thoughts of suicide or having a plan in place

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Slowed speech or poverty of speech
  • Psychomotor disturbances – agitation or slowed movement
  • Loss of efficiency completing tasks

Depression Risk Factors

Biochemical, medical, social, genetic, and contextual risk factors for depression exist. The following are some common risk factors:

  • Sex: Major depression is twice as common in women as it is in men, according to reliable sources.
  • Genetics: You’re at a higher risk. If you have a family history of depression, this is a reliable source.
  • Social and economic standing: Your socioeconomic situation, which includes financial difficulties and a sense of poor social standing, might raise your risk of depression.
  • Medications in particular: Certain medications, such as hormonal birth control pills, corticosteroids, and beta-blockers, have been linked to an increased risk of depression.
  • Deficiency in vitamin D: Studies Low vitamin D levels have been related to depression symptoms, according to Trusted Source.
  • Gender identity is a complex topic. According to a 2018 research, transgender persons have a roughly 4-fold higher risk of depression than cisgender people.
  • Misuse of a substance: Around 21% of persons with a drug abuse problem also suffer from depression.
  • illnesses. Persons with heart disease are nearly twice as likely as those without to suffer from depression, and up to 1 in 4 people with cancer may also suffer from depression.

Effects of depression

Depression, if left untreated, can severely limit an individual’s capacity to enjoy life. Depression may cause everything from little annoyances to death. Depression’s most prevalent side effects include:

  • Poor coping skills
  • Pain especially headaches and stomach pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Attempts to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased immune system functioning
  • Family and marital problems
  • Rejection at school or work
  • Social isolation
  • Self-mutilation
  • Suicide
  • Premature death in medical conditions