Depression is a mental health disorder that affects a person's mood, thoughts, and daily functioning. It is more than just feeling sad or going through a temporary emotional low. Depression is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed.
Symptoms of Depression
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- Persistent sadness or a low mood.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities.
- Changes in appetite and weight (either a decrease or increase).
- Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or excessive sleeping.
- Fatigue or loss of energy.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
Depression symptoms in children and teens
Common signs and symptoms of depression in children and teenagers are similar to those of adults, but there can be some differences.
In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusing to go to school, or being underweight.
In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction.
Depression symptoms in older adults
Depression is not a normal part of growing older, and it should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults, and they may feel reluctant to seek help. Symptoms of depression may be different or less obvious in older adults, such as:
- Memory difficulties or personality changes.
- Physical aches or pain
- Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems or loss of interest in sex - not caused by a medical condition or medication
- Often wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things
- Suicidal thinking or feelings, especially in older men
Types of Depression
There are several types of depression, each with its own distinct characteristics. Here are some common types:
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): Also known as clinical depression, it is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities. Symptoms may last for a significant period, typically two weeks or longer.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD): Formerly known as dysthymia, PDD involves a long-term, chronic form of depression. Symptoms are milder than MDD but last for at least two years in adults or one year in children or adolescents.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. It typically occurs during the fall and winter months when there is less natural sunlight. Symptoms include low mood, increased sleep, overeating, and decreased energy.
- Postpartum Depression (PPD): PPD affects women after childbirth. It involves intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that can interfere with daily
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that occurs in women after giving birth. It is estimated that around 10-20% of women experience PPD, although the exact prevalence may vary.
PPD typically begins within the first few weeks after childbirth, although it can develop anytime within the first year. It is believed to be influenced by a combination of hormonal changes, psychological factors, and external stressors.
Symptoms of postpartum depression may include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Changes in appetite or weight (either increase or decrease)
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia or excessive sleeping)
- Irritability, restlessness, or agitation
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation (seek immediate help if experiencing these thoughts)
Postpartum depression can have a significant impact on a woman's ability to care for herself and her baby. It is essential to seek professional help if experiencing these symptoms, as PPD is a treatable condition. Treatment options may include therapy, support groups, and in some cases, medication.
It's also worth noting that there are other postpartum mood disorders, such as postpartum anxiety and postpartum psychosis, which have distinct symptoms and require appropriate evaluation and treatment. If you or someone you know is experiencing postpartum depression or related symptoms, it's important to reach out to a healthcare professional for guidance and support.