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What is depression?

Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities.

It’s also fairly common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source estimates that 8.1 percent of American adults ages 20 and over had depression in any given 2-week period from 2013 to 2016.

Medically reviewed By





March 17, 2021

People experience depression in different ways. It may interfere with your daily work, resulting in lost time and lower productivity. It can also influence relationships and some chronic health conditions.

Conditions that can get worse due to depression include:

cardiovascular disease

It’s important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone. But, if you’re feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression.

Depression is considered a serious medical condition that can get worse without proper treatment. Those who seek treatment often see improvements in symptoms in just a few weeks.

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Depression symptoms

Depression can be more than a constant state of sadness or feeling “blue.”
Major depression can cause a variety of symptoms.

Some affect your mood, and others affect your body. Symptoms may also be ongoing, or come and go.

The symptoms of depression can be experienced differently among men, women, and children differently.

Men may experience symptoms related to their:

• mood, such as anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness
• emotional well-being, such as feeling empty, sad, hopeless
• behavior, such as loss of interest, no longer finding pleasure in favorite activities, feeling tired easily, thoughts of suicide, drinking excessively, using drugs, engaging in high-risk activities
• sexual interest, such as reduced sexual desire, lack of sexual performance
• cognitive abilities, such as inability to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses during conversations
• sleep patterns, such as insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, not sleeping through the night
• physical well-being, such as fatigue, pains, headache, digestive problems

Women may experience symptoms related to their:

• mood, such as irritability
• emotional well-being, such as feeling sad or empty, anxious or hopeless
behavior, such as loss of interest in activities, withdrawing from social engagements, thoughts of suicide
• cognitive abilities, such as thinking or talking more slowly
• sleep patterns, such as difficulty sleeping through the night, waking early, sleeping too much
• physical well-being, such as decreased energy, greater fatigue, changes in appetite, weight changes, aches, pain, headaches, increased cramps

Depression causes

There are several possible causes of depression. They can range from biological to circumstantial.

Common causes include:

• Family history. You’re at a higher risk for developing depression if you have a family history of depression or another mood disorder.
• Early childhood trauma. Some events affect the way your body reacts to fear and stressful situations.
• Brain structure. There’s a greater risk for depression if the frontal lobe of your brain is less active. However, scientists don’t know if this happens before or after the onset of depressive symptoms.
• Medical conditions. Certain conditions may put you at higher risk, such as chronic illness, insomnia, chronic pain, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
• Drug use. A history of drug or alcohol misuse can affect your risk.

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