What is depression?

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What is depression?

Clinical depression Also called: Major depression

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A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.

  • Treatable by a medical professional
  • Medium-term: resolves within months
  • Requires a medical diagnosis
  • Lab tests or imaging rarely required

Possible causes include a combination of biological, psychological and social sources of distress. Increasingly, research suggests that these factors may cause changes in brain function, including altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain.The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterises major depression can lead to a range of behavioural and physical symptoms. These may include

  • Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness
  • Behavioural: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, restlessness, or social isolation
  • Sleep: early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep
  • Whole body: excessive hunger, fatigue, or loss of appetite
  • Cognitive: lack of concentration, slowness in activity, or thoughts of suicide
  • Weight: weight gain or weight loss
  • Also common: poor appetite or repeatedly going over thoughts

The mainstay of treatment is usually medication, talk therapy or a combination of the two. Increasingly, research suggests that these treatments may normalise brain changes associated with depression.

Consult a doctor for medical advice

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