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What is Depression? – A Brief Introduction to its Signs and Causes


Depression is generally known as a state of melancholy or low mood that affects the behavior and thought process of a person involving actions such as losing interest and avoiding everyday activity and social contact. Depression also involves a feeling of guilt, hopelessness and in some cases even suicidal tendencies. Depression is a state which affects a person’s normal course of life and is associated with long.

While depression is a common condition experienced by almost everyone every now and then but is recognized as a disorder in medicine in the following two forms.

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Clinical Depression

Clinical Depression or Major Depressive Disorder is a state in which the symptoms of depression last for several days or even weeks.


Dysthymia is a condition which is also known as Neurotic Depression and involves the symptoms of depression that last over a longer period than in the case of Clinical Depression. The symptoms of depression in Dysthymia are not as severe as in Clinical Depression.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

  • Sad or melancholic mood
  • Irritable mood
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Loss of interest in social activities
  • Lost of interest in work
  • Social isolation
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Irregular sleeping habits
  • Irregular changes in dietary habits
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Digestive problems
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Feeling of guilt
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Thoughts about death

Causes of Depression

Depression is caused for a number of reasons which can be very personal and vary from person to person. However, the following are some of the most frequent causes that induce the condition of depression in a person.

Life Events

Major adverse life events can be a major cause of depression, such as conflict with personal relations, losing a loved one and losing one’s job.

Social Isolation

Social isolation can cause depression too. This cause is fairly common among senior citizens.

Substance Abuse

While many depression victims may resort to substance abuse in order to overcome their depression, substance abuse itself is a major cause of depression. It is also a major risk factor.

Sleep Deprivation

Lack of adequate sleep and other sleeping problems can also induce depression.

Medication Side Effect

Apart from substance abuse, depression can be caused as an adverse reaction of several medicines such as steroids.

Non-Psychiatric Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions such as cancer and hypothyroidism can induce stress and depression in the patient. A number of diseases which seriously impair bodily functions are also a significant cause of distress and depression such as multiple sclerosis and male hypogonadism. Treatment of certain medical conditions involving drug therapy involving beta blockers can also cause depression. Any long term treatment can cause depression.

Psychiatric Conditions

Some of the psychiatric disorders can also trigger depression as one of its symptoms. Conditions such as major depressive disorder and dysthymia are the symptoms of depression turning into clinical disorders. Such conditions usually included mood disorders such as bipolar disease or manic-depressive disorder and borderline personality disorder and anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.


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