Understanding Depression


Depression: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

Depression is a serious and chronic mental health condition that has various treatment options. There are different types, causes, signs, and symptoms of depression.

We all feel sad, low, or moody from time to time, but for some people, these feelings are intense, and they feel this way for long periods of time (weeks, months, or even years). Feeling low or drained emotionally without any valid reason may be a sign of depression. 

Such signs should not be ignored and must be discussed with a physician.

What Is Depression? 

Depression is a serious and common mood disorder that is described as feelings of loss, sadness, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday life.

Around 5% of adults suffer from depression globally.

The World Health Organization states that depression is the leading cause of disability around the world [1].

Depression Facts

  • Depression is the main reason someone dies of suicide (over 41,000 people in a year).
  • Depression causes around 490 million disability days from work each year in the United States.
  • According to the data from World Health Organization, depression affects around 280 million people worldwide.
  • Depression impacts more females than males.
  • Certain factors increase the chances of developing depression, which can affect anyone of any ethnic group or race at any age.
  • The U.S. has the highest rate of depression worldwide.

Types Of Depression 

There are several different depression types – 

Major depressive disorder

Also known as major depression or clinical depression, major depressive disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by a persistently sad or depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing a significant negative impact on daily life.

About 7.8%, or 19.4 million adults in the United States, had at least one episode of major depression in the year 2019, according to the National Institute of Medical Health [2].

Bipolar Disorder (Manic depression)

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health disorder that results in extreme mood swings, including emotional highs ( mania) and lows ( depression).

According to the National Institute Of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6 million around the age of 18, in the U.S. every year [3]. 

Persistent depressive disorder

Persistent Depressive Disorder is defined as a low mood, along with feelings of low self-esteem and energy, occurring for at least two years, It is a mild but long-term type of depression. It is also known as dysthymia.

Around 3% or more of the U.S. population experiences dysthymia at some point in their lives [4]. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression, is a type of depression triggered by a change in the season, and it most commonly begins in late fall. 

In the United States, about 5% of adults experience seasonal depression [5].

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

While PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is fairly common among menstruating women, premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe type of premenstrual syndrome. It causes behavioral and physical symptoms the week before menstruation and typically gets better with the onset of menstruation.

1 in 12 women in the United States experiences Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

Psychotic Depression 

When major depression is accompanied by psychosis, it is termed depression with psychosis or psychotic depression. Psychotic depression is a temporary condition characterized by abnormal perceptions that may include hallucinations or delusions.

Situational Depression 

Situational depression is generally a stress-related, short-term type of depression that usually develops after a traumatic life event.

Postpartum Depression (Postnatal Depression)

Postpartum depression is a very serious type of depression that impacts women after giving birth to a child. Some of the symptoms include irritability, loss of appetite, insomnia, and difficulty bonding with the baby. This type of depression is treatable, but without treatment, it can last for several months or even longer.

Postpartum depression occurs in around 6.5-20% of women [6].

If you think you may be suffering from any of these different types of depression that are mentioned above, we urge you to reach out to your health professional.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Depression?

The symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe and may vary depending on the type. In general, depression signs and symptoms include the following –

  • Feeling very hopeless, sad, or worried.
  • Not enjoying things that previously used to bring joy.
  • Being easily agitated or frustrated.
  • Eating too little or too much may result in weight loss or gain.
  • Insomnia ( trouble sleeping) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
  • Having lower energy levels or fatigue.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions.
  • Experiencing physical health issues such as headaches, sexual dysfunction, or stomach pain.
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • Having low energy or fatigue.

Call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you or anyone you know has self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

What Are The Causes Of Depression?

It is exactly not known what causes depression, as with many other mental disorders, but various factors may be involved, such as –

Brain chemistry

An imbalance or change in the levels of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, contributes to the development of depression.    

Medical conditions 

Medical conditions such as chronic pain or diabetes can lead to depression.


Changes in the balance of the body’s hormones may result in or trigger depression. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum), and from menopause, thyroid problems, or a number of other conditions.

Inherited traits

Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives, such as parents, also have this condition, and researchers are trying to find genes that are involved in causing depression.

Depression Test And Diagnosis


If a person suspects that they have the symptoms of depression, they should seek professional help from a mental health specialist.

A qualified doctor can rule out the various causes, ensure an accurate diagnosis and provide effective and safe treatment.

They will ask questions regarding the symptoms, such as how long they have been suffering from them. A healthcare professional may also conduct an examination to check for any physical causes and may ask for a blood test to rule out other health conditions.


Mental healthcare providers often ask people with symptoms of depression to complete questionnaires to help assess the severity of their depression.

For example, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale consists of 21 questions. The scores after answering those questions indicate the severity of depression among people who already have a diagnosis.

The Beck Depression Inventory is another example of a questionnaire that helps mental health professionals measure a person’s symptoms [7].

Depression Treatment And Support

Fortunately, depression is one of the most treatable conditions, and approximately 80-90% of people who seek treatment respond well to treatment.

Treatment Options For Depression Include-

  • Medicines – 
  • A prescription medication known as antidepressants can help change the brain chemistry responsible for depression. There are several types of antidepressants available on the market, and it may take some time to figure out which one is best for you.

  • Brain stimulation therapy –
  • Brain stimulation therapy involves activating or inhibiting parts of the brain with a mild electrical current. This therapy can help people with severe depression. There are various types of brain stimulation therapy, such as vagus nerve stimulation. Electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation.

  • Psychotherapy – 
  • Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, involves talking with a mental health professional. Your therapist helps you identify and change unhealthy thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.

Support For People With Depression – 

Depression isn’t anyone’s fault, and you can’t fix someone’s depression, but your support can help somebody battling with this condition.

You can –

  • Find a helpful organization – There are many organizations that offer counseling and support groups for depression. Examples of such organizations are the National Alliance on Mental Illness, as well as employee assistance programs.
  • Give positive reinforcement – People with depression may find fault with everything they do and judge themselves negatively. Always remind them about their positive qualities.
  • Urge the person to stay with treatment – If someone with depression is in treatment, help them keep appointments with their doctors.
  • Try to listen to them – Let them know that you want to learn how they feel, and when they want to talk to you, listen to them patiently and carefully.
Your support and understanding can be powerful healing tools for people with depression.

Ways To Overcome Depression

Try the following coping strategies if you’re going through depression –

  • Stay in touch with people because socializing can improve your mood.
  • Be more active because there is evidence that exercise can help uplift your mood.
  • Face your fears, and do not avoid the things you find difficult. Facing situations that you think are difficult will make them easier.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol.
  • Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Seek help or get treatment if needed.

Self-care Tips for Depression 

If you’re battling depression, self-care can be a powerful way to find relief. 

  • Take a warm bath. 
  • Many individuals find warm baths comforting, and for added relaxation, you can add essential oils such as lavender oil to your water.

  • Listen to music 
  • Listening to music can help you to connect to your emotions, and studies show that listening to music can improve mood [8].

  • Meditation 
  • Meditation is one of the most common forms of self-care. It helps bring awareness to negative feelings and thoughts and the ability to not act on them, thus reducing the symptoms of depression.

  • Create a routine

If the symptoms of depression disrupt your daily routine, a gentle routine or schedule may help you feel in control.

Wrapping up

Sadness in our lives comes and goes, but depression has enormous depth. Depression can leave you feeling burdened continuously, and everyone’s treatment and experience with depression are different.

If you feel depressed or have any of the symptoms of depression, we recommend you consult or talk to your mental health professional.


Can depression be cured?

No, depression is not curable, but there are various treatment options that can help you manage the symptoms of depression.

What is the difference between depression and anxiety?

Anxiety is characterized by fear, and excessive worry, whereas depression involves feelings of hopelessness, despair, and sadness.

What is the link between depression and suicide?

People battling depression may feel so bad that they think ending their lives is the best solution to get rid of their sadness; therefore, they attempt suicide. For them, suicide is a way to end their pain.

Can depression be treated without medication?

Whether depression can be treated without medication depends often on the persistence and severity of depressive symptoms.

How long does depression typically last?

It's difficult to predict how long depression might last, and everyone's experience with depression is different.

What is the relationship between depression and addiction?

Depression is common in people with addictions to drugs or alcohol, and substance abuse can intensify and trigger feelings of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness associated with depression.


  1. Depression, WHO.

  2. Depression Facts and Statistics, healthline.

  3. Bipolar disorder statistics, dbsalliance.

  4. Persistent depressive disorder, Cleveland Clinic.

  5. Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder), Cleveland Clinic.

  6. Prevalence of postpartum depression and interventions utilized for its management, NCBI.

  7. What is depression, and what can I do about it? Medicalnewstoday.

  8. Self-Care Tips For When You’re Depressed Or Anxious, healthline.

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