Depression, also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression is a common yet serious mood disorder. Depression affects how you feel, think, and handle daily living activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. For a diagnosis of depression, the symptoms need to be present for at least two weeks.

Signs & Symptoms

Depression is usually classified according to circumstances, in which they develop, and extent of severity may slightly differ:

Persistent Depressive Disorder or Dysthymia

Symptoms of depression must last for at least two years for a diagnosis of persistent depressive disorder to be arrived at. Someone diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression alternating with periods of less severe symptoms,

Perinatal Depression

It is more serious than the "baby blues," which are mild depressive & anxiety symptoms that usually go away within two weeks after delivery, which women may experience after giving birth. Women suffering from perinatal depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression) show symptoms of full blown clinical depression. These new mothers find it difficult to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or for their babies while battling feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany perinatal depression.

Psychotic Depression

A person battling severe depression may also suffer some form of psychosis, such as having upsetting untrue fixed beliefs (delusions), hearing or seeing distressing things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms characteristically have a depressive "subject," such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Sufferers usually experience the onset of depression during the winter months, when there less natural sunlight, lifting during spring & summer. Sufferers, predictably experience winter depression, accompanied by increased sleep, social withdrawal, & weight gain, each year in seasonal affective disorder.

If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:

  • Continual sad, anxious, or "empty" mood,
  • Feelings of pessimism or hopelessness,
  • Irritability,
  • Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, or guilt,
  • Loss of pleasure/interest in hobbies & activities,
  • Fatigue or decreased energy,
  • Talking more slowly, or moving,
  • Restlessness or having trouble sitting still,
  • Difficulty in concentration, retention, or decision - making,
  • Oversleeping or difficulty sleeping, or early-morning awakening,
  • Appetite or weight fluctuations,
  • Suicide attempts, or thoughts of death or suicide,
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

Not everyone suffers all the symptoms, some may experience a few, and others may suffer almost all of the symptoms. In addition to low mood, several other persistent symptoms are essential for major depression to be diagnosed. But people with only a handful - but disturbing - symptoms may benefit from treatment of their "subsyndromal" depression. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will differ depending on the person and his or her particular form of depression. Symptoms may also fluctuate according to the stage of the illness.

Treatment

There is no 'one-size' fits all treatment. No two people are affected the same way & your prescribing physician will need to be continually updated about what works & what doesn't on a regular basis.

Medicines for depression are known as anti-depressants & they may be prescribed alone or in combination with talk-therapy. Antidepressants usually take a while -2 to 4 weeks - to take effect, and symptoms such as sleep, appetite, & concentration issues improve before mood lifts.