What is depression?

Depression is a condition of our emotional state of mind typically characterized by sadness, irritability and/or anxiety. There are different types of depression. On the other hand, a state of sadness does not necessarily mean depression.

Types of depression

  1. Sadness can be distinguished from depression taken as a condition. Sadness, also known as normal depression, is a normal response human beings have to failure, deception, and to other adverse situations.
  2. There is a transitory depression that appears as a reaction to certain dates with significant emotional meanings such as the anniversary of the death of a loved one. There can also be temporary depression during a woman’s premenstrual period and immediately after giving birth. These reactions often occur but should be considered normal.
  3. Reactive depression. This is the form of depression that occurs in response to significant losses and separations, as can be the case when a loved one dies, divorce, failure in a love relationship, household relocations, forced emigration or catastrophic situations such as floods or earthquakes.
  4. In certain cases a paradoxical form of depression can occur when a person is faced with changes or challenges brought about by positive circumstances. For example, this form of depression can occur because the person has to face the responsibilities of a new job due to a promotion at work.
  5. Depression can occur which is due not to outer life circumstances, but rather deals with the inner emotional or psychological workings of the person. In these cases, we speak about endogenous depression or melancholy. This form of depression is also known as major depression.
  6. Some patients show a type of depression, also known as atypical depression, in which there is a variety of symptoms such as anxiety and phobias, evening discomfort, hypersomnia (excessive sleep) and hyperfagia (an increase of appetite with a corresponding increase in weight).
  7. In latent depression, patients may not be feeling either sad or depressed and may even look joyful. These patients usually suffer from an apparent physical ailment, such as indigestion, pain or heartburn, muscular pain or pain in the joints and chronic headaches, among some of the most common symptoms.

Diagnosing depression

In order to diagnose depression, especially a case of major depression, doctors bear in mind nine classical symptoms:

  1. A depressed frame of mind during most parts of the day.
  2. Eating disorders or changes in weight.
  3. Sleep disorders.
  4. Agitation or psycho-motor retardation.
  5. Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyed before.
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy.
  7. Lowered feelings of self-esteem: excessive or inadequate feelings of guilt.
  8. Difficulty in concentrating or thinking clearly.
  9. Sickly or suicidal thoughts or actions.

A major depressive incident can be diagnosed when at least five symptoms are present during the same two-week period. Out of these five, at least one of them must be a depressed state of mind or a loss of interest or pleasure.

Treatment for depression

Even if the condition seems repetitive, it is imperative for depression to be effectively diagnosed. It is important for people to see their physician when they or others notice either a persistent mood change as described above or when the various and sometimes confusing symptoms we have discussed appear. Your physician will be able to properly diagnose the form of depression if it is present.

The treatment for depression often involves medicines based on the type of depression. These medicines are prescribed in close consultation between the doctor and patient. Your physician may also suggest other forms of treatment again based on the form of depression that presents itself.