Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings, and sense of well-being.
Depressed mood is a feature of some psychiatric syndromes such as major depressive disorder, but it may also be a normal temporary reaction to life events such as bereavement, a symptom of some bodily ailments or a side effect of some drugs and medical treatments.
When a person has depression, it interferes with daily life and normal functioning.
It can cause pain for both the person with depression and those who care about him or her and this is known as “depressive disorder,” or “clinical depression.”
It is not a sign of a person’s weakness or a character flaw. You can’t “snap out of” clinical depression. Most people who experience depression need treatment to get better.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that by 2030, depression will account for the highest level of disability accorded any physical or mental disorder in the world.
Causes of Depression.
Childhood experiences – Adversity in childhood, such as bereavement, neglect, mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and unequal parental treatment of siblings can contribute to depression in adulthood. Childhood physical or sexual abuse in particular significantly correlates with the likelihood of experiencing depression over the life course.
Life events and changes that may precipitate depressed mood include childbirth, menopause, financial difficulties, unemployment, work stress, a medical diagnosis (cancer, HIV, etc.), bullying, loss of a loved one, natural disasters, social isolation, rape, relationship troubles, jealousy, separation, and catastrophic injury. Adolescents may be especially prone to experiencing depressed mood following social rejection, peer pressure and bullying.
Personality – You may be more vulnerable to depression if you have certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem or being overly self-critical.
Medical treatments – Depression may also be iatrogenic (the result of healthcare), such as drug induced depression. There are a number of medications that can cause this and you can speak to your doctor if you are worried about it.
Alcohol and drugs – Several drugs of abuse can cause or exacerbate depression, whether in intoxication, withdrawal, and from chronic use. These include alcohol, sedatives (including prescription benzodiazepines), opioids (including prescription pain killers and illicit drugs like heroin), stimulants (such as cocaine and amphetamines), hallucinogens, and inhalants.