Depression: A Guide on Everything You Should Know

The term “depression” refers to a mood disorder. It can be identified as sorrow, grief, or rage that interferes with an individual’s daily tasks.`

You will be surprised to know that It’s also quite common.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18.5% of adults experienced depressive symptoms at some point during a two-week study in 2019.

Despite the similarities between depression and grief, sadness or grief experienced after a tragic incident or the loss of a loved one is not the same as depression. 

Depression is frequently characterized by self-loathing or a loss of self-esteem, whereas grief is not.

Positive feelings and joyful recollections of the deceased frequently go hand in hand with emotional suffering while someone is grieving; on the other hand, sadness is a constant feeling in depressive disorder. 

Depression manifests differently for each person.

It may disrupt your everyday work, causing you to lose time and decrease productivity. It can also negatively impact relationships and certain cause chronic health conditions, such as:

  • Asthma, 
  • Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Obesity

It’s vital to understand that experiencing sadness occasionally is a natural aspect of life. Everyone experiences sad and disturbing things in life, But if you frequently feel sad or hopeless, you may be suffering from depression. 

Depression is a severe medical condition that worsens without appropriate care. 

Mayo Clinic

Symptoms of Depression

Most of the time, depression comes as more than just a persistent sadness.

An episode of depression can manifest in several ways. Some impact your body, while others influence your mood. 

Furthermore, symptoms might linger or come and go.

General symptoms and signs

The symptoms of depression vary from person to person. The degree, regularity, and duration of symptoms can all vary.

You may have depression if you have experienced some of the following signs and symptoms virtually every day for at least two weeks: 

  • Feeling unhappy, worried, or “empty.”
  • Feeling useless, pessimistic, and hopeless.
  • Crying a lot 
  • Feeling upset, irritated, or furious.
  • Losing interest in activities and pursuits you once found enjoyable
  • Reduced energy or weariness
  • Having trouble with concentrating, memorizing things, or decision-making
  • Moving or speaking more slowly
  • Having trouble falling asleep, waking up early, or staying up late
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
  • Persistent physical discomfort with no apparent cause that does not improve with treatment (headaches, aches or pains, digestive problems, cramps)
  • Self-harm, suicide attempts, or death-related ideas

Men, women, teenagers, and young children may all experience the symptoms of depression in different ways.

Men may have signs and symptoms related to the following: 

  • Change in moods, including hostility, aggression, irritability, nervousness, or restlessness
  • Emotional changes, including feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
  • Behavioral change including loss of interest, fatigue, thoughts of suicide, excessive drinking, drug use, or participation in high-risk activities; 
  • Sexual interest, including decreased sexual desire or poor sexual performance;
  • Deterioration in Cognitive abilities, including trouble focusing, difficulties finishing chores, or slow conversational responses. 
  • Change in sleep habits, such as restless sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, or trouble staying asleep all night 
  • Deteriorating physical health, such as exhaustion, aches, headaches, or stomach issues 

Women may have signs and symptoms associated to:

  • Mood swings such as irritation.
  • Deteriorating emotional health, such as feelings of sadness, emptiness, anxiousness, or hopelessness. 
  • Changes in behavior, such as lack of interest in activities, withdrawal from social interactions, or suicidal thoughts. 
  • Poor cognitive abilities, such as slowing down thinking or speaking.
  • Poor physical well-being, such as decreased energy, higher weariness, changes in appetite, weight changes, aches, pains, headaches, or increased cramps. 
  • Change in sleeping habits, such as trouble sleeping through the night, rising early, or sleeping too much.

Children might exhibit symptoms related to  their:

  • Mental well-being, such as thoughts of incapability, for example: “I can’t do anything well.”
  • Mood, such as irritation, rage, rapid mood swings, sobbing, or sadness.
  • Actions, such as getting into trouble at school or not going to school; avoidance of friends or siblings; thoughts of death or suicide; or self-harm
  • Change in sleep patterns, such as sleeping too much or not sleeping at all.
  • Poor cognitive abilities, such as difficulty concentrating; decline in academic performance; or changes in grades.
  • Physical health, such as fatigue; digestive issues; changes in appetite; or weight loss. 

Causes of depression

Several factors cause depression, and they vary from biological to circumstantial.

Major causes include :

  • Brain chemistry:  People with depression may have a chemical imbalance in the areas of the brain that control their mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior.
  • Hormonal levels:  A person’s risk for depression may increase due to changes in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone at various points, such as during the menstrual cycle, postpartum period, perimenopause, or menopause.
  • Family background: If depression or another mood disorder runs in your family, you run a higher risk of having it yourself.
  • Trauma in early childhood:  Some experiences impact how your body responds to stress and frightening situations.
  • Brain structure: If the frontal lobe of your brain is less active, you are more likely to suffer from depression. However, it is unknown whether this occurs before or after the start of depressive symptoms.
  • Medical conditions: If you have a chronic illness, chronic pain, sleeplessness, Parkinson’s disease, a stroke, a heart attack, or cancer, you may be more susceptible to developing depression.
  • Using drugs: Your risk of depression increases if you have a history of substance or alcohol abuse.
  • Pain: Long-term emotional or physical distress increases the likelihood that a person will experience depression.

Types of depression

Depression can be divided into different categories depending on the severity of the symptoms. While some people only have short, mild episodes of depression, others have more severe, continuous attacks.

Major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder are the two primary types of depression.

Major depressive disorder

The more severe form of depression is known as major depressive disorder (MDD). It is characterized by enduring, self-perpetuating feelings of sadness, helplessness, and worthlessness.

Clinical depression requires the presence of five or more of the following symptoms within a two-week period to be diagnosed: 

  • Feeling sad most of the day
  • Losing interest in routine activities
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Sleeping a lot or not being able to sleep
  • Slowing down or losing a lot of energy most days
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Having frequent thoughts of suicide or death

The American Psychiatric Association refers to these major depressive illnesses as “specifiers.”

Among them is:

  • atypical features
  • anxious distress
  • mixed features
  • peripartum onset, during pregnancy, or right after giving birth
  • seasonal patterns
  • melancholic features
  • psychotic features
  • Catatonia

Persistent depressive disorder

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) was previously known as dysthymia. It is a chronic, milder form of depression.

The symptoms must persist for at least two years before diagnosis. And, because PDD lasts longer than severe depression, it might have a more significant negative impact on your life.

It’s common for PDD patients to:

  • Lose enthusiasm for daily activities
  • Experience a lack of productivity and low self-esteem

Successful treatments for depression exist, but it’s crucial to follow your prescribed course of action. 

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is a term used to describe depression that occurs after giving birth. 

1 in 9 new women experiences the condition after pregnancy.

After giving birth, people frequently experience the “baby blues,” or feelings of sadness or emptiness. However, these symptoms generally disappear in a couple of days for most people.

However, if these feelings persist for more than two weeks after giving birth, you may be suffering from postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression symptoms can range in severity from moderate to severe and can include the following:

  • Mood swings or restlessness
  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or overwhelmed
  • Having ideas of hurting yourself or the baby
  • Not having an attraction to the baby, feeling as if your baby is someone else’s, or confused
  • Having no motivation or energy
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Sleeping problems 
  • Trouble focusing
  • Memory problems
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or like a bad parent
  • Withdrawing from activities you once enjoyed
  • Keeping away from family and friends
  • Having headaches, stomach issues, and body aches that don’t go away
  • Feeling unconnected, empty, or like you are not capable of loving or caring for the baby

The dramatic hormonal changes that occur after pregnancy are thought to be what causes postpartum depression.

Bipolar depression

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that results in noticeable shifts in mood, vigor, focus, and the capacity to perform daily chores.

There are three different types of bipolar disorder, and each one includes manic and depressive episodes, where you experience extreme up, joyful, or energetic feelings, or the opposite, which is hopeless, sad, or down. 

It can be challenging to detect the negative impacts of each “mood episode” if you have bipolar illness.

Those experiencing a depressive episode might:

  • Feel very sad, empty, or hopeless
  • Feel restless or slowed down
  • Have sleep problems
  • Have increased appetite hence weight gain
  • Talk very slowly, feel like they have nothing to say, or forget things 
  • Have trouble making decisions or concentrating
  • Feel incapable of doing basic tasks
  • Have no interest in events or activities
  • Have a reduced or no sex drive
  • Have thoughts of suicide or death

A depressive episode’s symptoms can linger for several days or weeks and occur every day for most of the day.

If treated, many people who experience depressive episodes will have fewer and milder symptoms of depression. 

Depression and Anxiety

An individual may experience both depression and anxiety at the same time. Studies have shown that more than 70% of those who suffer from depressive disorders also exhibit signs of anxiety.

Although they are believed to be caused by different factors, depression, and anxiety can result in a number of the same symptoms, such as:

  • Irritation, 
  • Memory or concentration issues
  • Sleep issues

There are some standard therapies for the two illnesses as well.

  • Medication
  • Alternative therapies, such as hypnosis
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

Make an appointment to speak with your healthcare provider if you show signs of one or both of these diseases. Together, you can determine which coexisting signs of anxiety and depression you may be experiencing. 

Depression and (OCD)Obsessive-compulsive disorder

OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is an anxiety disorder that results in unwelcome and persistent cravings, worries, and thoughts (obsessions).

These worries persuade you to engage in repetitive activities or rituals (compulsions) to relieve the stress generated by the obsessions.

OCD sufferers frequently find themselves caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. You might feel alone and neglected if you show any of these behaviors. As a result, you may want to isolate yourself from friends and social gatherings, raising your chance of developing depression. 

The presence of depression among OCD sufferers is not unusual. There is a higher chance of developing another anxiety disorder if you already have one. Up to 80% of individuals with OCD also experience significant episodes of depression.

Children are also affected by this combined diagnosis, which is concerning. They may feel strange due to their obsessive behaviors, which can start to emerge at a young age. That may cause a child to distance themselves from friends and raise their risk of developing depression. 

Depression and  psychosis

Some people diagnosed with severe depression may also show signs of yet another mental condition known as psychosis. Depressive psychosis is the term used when the two illnesses co-occur.

People with depressive psychosis experience unreal sounds, sights, smells, or perceptions. Additionally, those with the illness may feel depressed, sad, and irritable.

There is more risk when the two conditions coexist. This is because someone with depressed psychosis may have delusions that lead to suicidal ideation or unusual risk-taking. 

Although the origin of these two illnesses and the reason they can exist together are unknown, treatment can effectively reduce symptoms. Medication and electroconvulsive therapy are available as treatments (ECT).

Knowing the risks and potential reasons can make it easier for you to recognize early symptoms. 

Depression and pregnancy

For many people, pregnancy is an exciting time. However, depression among pregnant women can still be relatively common.

Pregnancy-related depression symptoms include:

  • Alterations in appetite or eating patterns
  • Having unrelenting anxiety
  • Losing interest in previously cherished hobbies and pursuits
  • Sadness
  • Troubles concentrating or remembering sleep issues
  • Sleeplessness or Excessive sleep
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Talk therapy and other natural remedies may be the only methods used to address depression during pregnancy.

Although some pregnant women use antidepressants, it’s unclear which ones are the safest. Until your baby is born, your healthcare professional can advise you to explore another option. 

Even after the kid is born, there is still a chance of depression. For new moms, postpartum depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder with Peripartum, is a severe problem. 

Depression and alcohol

Studies have confirmed a link between alcohol use and depression. Depression increases the likelihood of alcohol abuse.

About half of the individuals with substance use disorders also have a co-occurring mental condition.

People with depression are more likely to misuse alcohol or develop alcohol dependence than non-depressed individuals. In addition, frequent alcohol consumption can worsen depressive symptoms. 

Tests for depression

No single test exists to identify depression. However, your healthcare professional can make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and psychological assessment results.

Doctors commonly probe you with a series of questions concerning your:

Moods, hunger, sleeping habits, level of activity, and thoughts.

Your healthcare provider may also perform a physical examination and request blood work because depression has been connected to other health issues. Like, Sometimes depressive symptoms might be brought on by thyroid issues or a vitamin D shortage.

It’s critical not to disregard depressive disorder symptoms. Instead, seek medical assistance if your mood doesn’t get better or grows worse. Depression is a severe mental health condition that can lead to further problems.

Complications that may arise if untreated include the following:

  • Physical pain
  • Gaining  or losing weight
  • Panic attacks
  • Substance abuse
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Social isolation 
  • Self-harm 

Treatment options for depression

You may be able to manage symptoms of depression with only one type of treatment, or you may discover that a combination of treatments works best.

It is a common practice to combine medical interventions with lifestyle therapies. 

Let’s look at the medical treatments that are available for depression.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) 

The most popular antidepressant drugs are SSRIs, which also have a reputation for having few negative effects. They help treat depression by boosting the availability of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain.

Certain drugs, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and occasionally thioridazine or Orap(pimozide), should not be taken with SSRIs.

Pregnant women should discuss the dangers of using SSRIs with healthcare providers. Additionally, if you have narrow-angle glaucoma, proceed with caution. 

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

SNRIs cure depression by boosting the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.

MAOIs and SNRIs should not be taken together. You should exercise extreme caution if you have liver or renal disease or narrow-angle glaucoma. 

Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants

By raising the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine levels in your brain, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and tetracyclic antidepressants (TECAs) alleviate depression.

Compared to SSRIs and SNRIs, TCAs have higher adverse effects.

TCAs and TECAs should not be taken alongside MAOIs. Those who have narrow-angle glaucoma should use them with caution. 

Atypical antidepressants

Noradrenaline and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)

These medications cure depression by boosting dopamine and noradrenaline levels in the brain.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

MAOIs alleviate depression by boosting the amounts of norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and tyramine in your brain.

For safety reasons and negative impacts, MAOIs aren’t always the best option for addressing mental health issues. They usually are used to treat depression when other drugs have failed. 

N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonists

Anti-NDMA medications are used to treat depression by Increasing the brain’s glutamate level; glutamate is a neurotransmitter thought to play a role in depression.

Only individuals who have failed to respond to other antidepressant medications are prescribed NMDA antagonists.

 One such medication approved for the treatment of depression by medical bodies worldwide is esketamine (Spravato).

Esketamine is a nasal spray that can only be obtained through the Spravato REMS limited program.

After taking the medication, patients may feel fatigued and dissociated (have trouble paying attention, making decisions, and thinking). Because of this, esketamine is only given in a setting where a medical professional can watch.

Kindly note that each medicine used to treat depression has advantages and possible risks. 


You can develop coping mechanisms for unpleasant emotions by speaking with a therapist. Sessions in family or group therapy may also be helpful.

When a person meets with a qualified therapist for psychotherapy, commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” they discuss the issues contributing to their mental health condition and learn coping mechanisms.

It has been demonstrated that psychotherapy is a successful treatment for reducing symptoms in patients with depression and other psychiatric diseases.

Psychotherapy is regularly used alongside medical treatment. Psychotherapy comes in various forms; some respond better to one form than another. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapist will collaborate with you to highlight dysfunctional thought patterns and determine how they can result in negative behaviors, responses, and self-perceptions.

Your therapist may give you “homework” that involves practicing changing your negative thoughts to more positive ones.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) emphasizes acceptance rather than resistance to painful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

By acknowledging your negative feelings or beliefs, you can recognize that change is possible and create a recovery strategy. 

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a type of talk therapy that aims to help you better comprehend and manage your daily life. The foundation of psychodynamic therapy is that your unconscious childhood experiences impact your current reality.

In this therapy, your therapist will work with you to consider and reflect on your early years and experiences to better understand and manage your life.

Light therapy

White light exposure can assist in regulating your mood and alleviating depressive symptoms. Light therapy is frequently used for seasonal affective disorder, also known as Major Depressive Disorder with seasonal patterns. 

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) has been found to help persons with clinical depression by inducing seizures using electrical currents. It is prescribed to patients who have severe depression or depression that is unresponsive to conventional therapies or antidepressant drugs.

When in an ECT procedure, patients receive an anesthetic agent that puts them to sleep for roughly 5 to 10 minutes.

Four electrodes are positioned on different parts of your head; then, the healthcare provider applies cardiac monitoring pads to your chest for a brief period to deliver electrical pulses. Patients usually awaken 5 to 10 minutes after treatment. 

Interestingly they don’t convulse or feel the electrical current after waking up.

Some side effects include headaches, nausea, aches, muscle pains, and confusion or disorientation. Memory issues may also arise in patients, but they often do so weeks and months after treatment. 

Alternative Treatments

Many people decide to combine traditional psychotherapy and medicine with alternative therapies. However, it is essential to Inquire with your doctor about alternative depression treatments before starting.

Some of the most common alternative treatments are:


Depression is triggered by stress, worry, and rage, but meditation can help alter how your brain processes these feelings. Studies show that meditation can help with depression symptoms and reduce your risk of relapsing into despair.


Traditional Chinese medical practices like acupuncture may be able to reduce some depressive symptoms.

 To cure a variety of ailments, an acupuncturist uses needles to stimulate certain parts of the body.

According to research, acupuncture may make clinical therapies more effective and just as helpful as psychotherapy. 

Natural solutions and lifestyle tips


Aim for 30 minutes of exercise three to five days a week. Endorphins elevate your mood, and exercise can raise your body’s production of these hormones.

Avoid using drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol use or drug abuse may temporarily improve your mood. However, over time, these drugs may worsen the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Learn to set boundaries.

Overwhelming feelings might make depression and anxiety symptoms worse. You might feel better by establishing limits in your personal and professional life. 

Self-care is important.

Taking care of yourself might help with depression symptoms as well. This entails getting enough rest, maintaining a good diet, avoiding negative individuals, and engaging in fun activities.


Numerous supplements could help reduce the symptoms of depression.

S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe

According to a study, this supplement helps with depressive symptoms. However, more research is required because the findings of this study are not definitive.

5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) (5-HTP)

Serotonin levels in the brain may rise due to 5-HTP use, alleviating depressive symptoms. Your body produces this molecule when you consume the protein-building block tryptophan. 

Omega-3 fatty acids

The growth of the nervous system and the brain’s health depend on these critical lipids. Including omega-3 supplements in your diet may minimize the symptoms of depression.

Before taking supplements, always consult your doctor because they could interact negatively with other medications.


Numerous body processes depend on vitamins. According to research, the following two vitamins are beneficial for reducing depressive symptoms:

  • Vitamin B: B-6 and B-12 are essential for brain health. Low vitamin B levels may increase your chances of developing depression. 
  • Vitamin D: Also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” it promotes the health of the heart, bones, and brain.


Ginseng offers a potential method for recovering homeostasis following different physiological changes brought on by daily stress. Its effectiveness has been proved in numerous studies involving human tissue and animal studies. 

Preventing depression

Generally speaking, depression is not thought to be preventable. In addition, It is challenging to identify the root causes, making prevention more challenging.

However, after a depressive episode, you may be better equipped to avoid another by knowing which dietary adjustments and medical procedures are beneficial.

A few methods that could be useful are:

  • Routine exercise
  • Getting a lot of rest
  • Maintaining the required treatments
  • Reducing stress and stressful situations
  • Strengthening interpersonal connections

The Bottomline

Depression may be a short-term problem or a chronic one. Most of the time, it doesn’t always totally disappear after treatment.

Treatment, however, helps symptoms become more tolerable. Finding the ideal mix of treatments and medications or supplements is essential for managing the symptoms of depression.

Consult your healthcare provider if a treatment doesn’t work. They can work with you to develop an alternative treatment plan that might be more effective in assisting you in managing your illness. 

Acha Maoni

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