What is Depression?
Depression is a common mental health condition that can happen to anyone.
Depression can cause a person to feel low in their mood, and this can last for weeks, months and in some cases years.
Depression is recognised as a leading cause of disability worldwide. The World Health Organisation has projected that depression will rank first, as the leading cause of burden of disease worldwide by 2030.
What are the different types of depression?
Depression can be: mild, moderate or severe.
In America, severe depression is known as major depressive disorder.
Some people experience severe depression with psychotic symptoms.
Depression can be episodic, or recurrent.
Depression that persists for more than 2 years is referred to as persistent depressive disorder, or dysthymia.
Further subtypes of depression include post-natal or postpartum depression. This is depression that is sometimes known as “baby blues”, and occurs soon after the birth of a child. It is frequently reported in mothers, but it can also occur in fathers. It is very important to look out for postpartum depression because this condition can adversely affect both parents, the family unit and the developing child.
Another subtype of depression is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is depression that follows a seasonal pattern, with symptoms being more severe during the winter months. It is sometimes known as “winter depression”.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the prevalence of depression?
In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, global prevalence of depression increased by 25%. Young people, women, andpeople with pre-existing physical health conditions were found to be disproportionately at risk of developing depressionduring the COVID-19 pandemic.
How common is depression?
Globally, it is estimated that 5% of adults have been affected by depression. This equates to roughly 280 million people worldwide.
15% of women receive treatment for depression, compared to 9% of men.
What are the causes of depression?
Depression is a complicated condition with several possible causes, and can occur because of a combination of different factors.
The causes of depression
Stressful childhood experiences
Difficult social circumstances
Adverse life events
Sleep conditions, especially chronic insomnia, and obstructive sleep apnoea
Other psychiatric illnesses
Can depression be treated?
Yes, depression is a condition that responds to treatment.
What are my treatment options if I have depression?
There are many treatment options for depression, and treatment depends on the severity of the depression.
Your doctor may recommend that you undergo blood tests to screen for any physical causes of depression.
Treatment options include:
• Addressing any physical causes of depression
• Psychological therapy (talking therapy)
• Seeking social support
• Optimising nutrition
• Exercising regularly
• Reducing alcohol intake and avoiding illicit drugs
• Antidepressant medications
• Complimentary medicine
• Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
• Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
• Vagus nerve stimulation
• Esketamine nasal spray
It’s important to work closely with your health care provider to put together a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs, and in accordance with the nature and severity of your depression.
Types of clinical depression
Major depressive disorder
Seasonal affective disorder
Is it possible to recover from depression without taking medication?
People can recover from depression without taking antidepressants.
What are the consequences of untreated depression?
Increased risk of developing high blood pressure
Increased risk of heart attack
Increased risk of stroke
Increased pain sensitivity
Weakened immune system
Increased risk of becoming overweight or underweight
Poorer control of diabetes
Increased risk of sexual dysfunction
Increased risk of overall mortality
Statistics may not paint the full picture about depression, because they do not include people who are undiagnosed and untreated.
Historically, depression was referred to as melancholia
Are there any other consequences of Depression?
People experiencing severe depression are up to 20 times more likely to attempt, or die by suicide.