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Depression:

Depression is a treatable illness involving an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. It is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness. You canít make yourself well by trying to "snap out of it." Although it can run in families, you canít catch it from someone else. The direct causes of the illness are unclear, however it is known that body chemistry can bring on a depressive disorder, due to experiencing a traumatic event, hormonal changes, altered health habits, the presence of another illness or substance abuse.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
http://www.dbsalliance.org/info/depression.html

Research has identified two major types of depression:

People who have major depressive disorder have had at least one major depressive episode Ė five or more symptoms for at least a two-week period. For some people, this disorder is recurrent, which means they may experience episodes every so often Ė once a month, once a year, or several times throughout their lives.

Dysthymia is a chronic, moderate type of depression. People with dysthymia usually suffer from poor appetite or overeating, insomnia or oversleeping, and low energy or fatigue. People with dysthymia are often unaware that they have an illness because their functioning is usually not greatly impaired. They go to work and manage their lives, but are frequently irritable and often complaining about stress.

People of all ages, races, ethnic groups and social classes get depression. Although it can occur at any age, depression frequently develops between the ages of 25 and 44. If you have depression, you are not alone. Approximately 20 million adult Americans experience depression every day.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
http://www.dbsalliance.org/info/depression.html

DSM IV:

Major Depressive Episode:

  1. Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

Note: Do note include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition, or mood-incongruent delusions or hallucinations.

  1. depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.
  2. markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others)
  3. significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains.
  4. insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
  5. psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down)
  6. fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  7. feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
  8. diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others)
  9. recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
  1. The symptoms do not meet criteria for a Mixed Episode.
  2. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  3. The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., hypothyroidism).
  4. The symptoms are not better accounted for by Bereavement, i.e., after the loss of a loved one, the symptoms persist for longer than 2 months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation.

Major Depressive Disorder:

Single Episode

  1. Presence of a single Major Depressive Episode
  2. The Major Depressive Episode is not better accounted for by Schizoaffective Disorder and is not superimposed on Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
  3. There has never been a Manic Episode, a Mixed Episode, or a Hypomanic Episode. Note: This exclusion does not apply if all the manic-like, mixed-like, or hypomanic-like episodes are substance or treatment induced or are due to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition.

Recurrent

  1. Presence of two or more Major Depressive Episodes.

Note: To be considered separate episodes, there must be an interval of at least 2 consecutive months in which criteria are not met for a Major Depressive Episode.

  1. The Major Depressive Episodes are not better accounted for by Schizoaffective Disorder and are not superimposed on Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
  2. There has never been a Manic Episode, a Mixed Episode, or a Hypomanic Episode. Note: This exclusion does not apply if all the manic-like, mixed-like, or hypomanic-like episodes are substance or treatment induced or are due to the direct physiological effects or a general medical condition.

Specify (for current or most recent episode):
Severity/Psychotic/Remission Specifiers
Chronic
With Catatonic Features
With Atypical Features
With Postpartum Onset

Specify Longitudinal Course Specifiers (With and Without Interepisode Recovery)
With Seasonal Pattern

Facts:

bullet  1 in 6 Americans will experience depression at some point during their lives.
bullet  Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
bullet  Women are nearly twice as likely as men to suffer from depression.
bullet  People with a family history of depression may also be prone to the disease, as well as those with chronic or debilitating medical conditions.
bullet  54% of people believe depression is a personal weakness.
bullet  41% of depressed women are too embarrassed to seek help.
bullet  15% of depressed people will commit suicide.
bullet  80% of depressed people are not currently having any treatment.

 

Links:

The depression-guide assists patients who suffer from the depression, and a resource for family, friends and loved ones in learning about depression and other depression related disorders. It provides information about the depressive disorders, its causes, its treatment (ranges from traditional to latest medications to alternative and natural to herbal treatment options), its scope and its personal and family impact.
http://www.depression-guide.com/

Psychology Information Online - Major Depression
This is the most severe category of depression. In a major depression, more of the symptoms of depression are present, and they are usually more intense or severe.
http://www.psychologyinfo.com/depression/major.htm

Psychology Information Online - Medication
Anyone can develop depression. But, treatment is effective in about 80% of identified cases, when treatment is provided. Psychotherapy and medication are the two primary treatment approaches. Antidepressant medications can make psychotherapy more effective, for some people.
http://www.psychologyinfo.com/depression/medication.htm

National Mental Health Association
Fact sheet - Depression: Depression in Women
http://www.nmha.org/infoctr/factsheets/23.cfm

 

 

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