Mental Health Awareness Month| Depression Disorder: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms, Prevention And More


It also referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder. It is mental health or a mood disorder causing constant feelings of loss of interest and unhappiness. It affects your thoughts, behaviors, and moods leading to a variety of complications in physical and emotional well being.

In most cases you may have trouble functioning daily while other times you may question your cause of existence.

Although depression requires long term periods of treatment, it is not a weakness and most people have ‘snapped out’ of it. Most people feel better through either psychotherapy, medication, or both of them.

Symptoms Of Depression

Depression is more than the unending state of feeling blue or sadness and can also cause a mixture of a variety of symptoms to develop. While it is known to affect the mood, it also affects the body and the symptoms may come and go.

The symptoms are shown by changes in;

  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Behavioral
  • Thoughts

These symptoms express in unique ways in children, women, and men.

Children may have the symptoms related to their:

Emotional where they may have constant feelings of incompetence and inferiority, intense crying and sadness

Physical such as deprived energy, stomach upsets, and digestive problems, changes in appetite that affect the body weight

Cognitive capabilities which may affect school performances and difficulties in concentrating

Mood changes such as increased anger, and irritability

Changes in sleep patterns whereby the child might sleep more or sleepless

Women may have symptoms related to:

Emotions where they have increased levels of anxiousness, feeling sad and empty

Changes in the sleep pattern where they end up either sleeping more or sleeping for fewer hours than usual

Cognitive abilities, affecting their ability to coordinate speech normally and end up talking more slowly

Behavioral such as loss of interest in things that previously enjoyed, suicidal thoughts and self-harm, social withdrawal, eating disorders

Physical changes such as general aches and pain, increased cramps, deprived energy, fatigue, variations in appetite which affects the body weight

Men may develop symptoms related to the:

Sexuality where most lack sexual desires and record reduced sexual performance

Changes in the mood to aggressiveness, restlessness, anger, irritability, and anxiousness

Cognitive capabilities such as deferred responses while conversing, poor concentrations, failure to complete tasks

Behavioral changes such as alcohol and substance abuse, engaging in high-risk behaviors, loss of interests in favorite activities, suicidal thoughts and self-harm behaviors

Changes in sleep patterns where they end up developing insomnia, sleeping less or for longer hours

Physical changes such as constant pains and muscle aches, fatigue, digestive problems and headaches

Causes of Depression

Like all the mental health disorders, depression lacks a single cause and the causes range from circumstantial to biological factors.

  1. Genetic or family history. Members of a family with a history of depression or any other mood disorders stand at a higher risk of developing depression. They are more prone if the family member is a close relative.
  2. Brain structure. Studies have shown than individuals with a less active brain front lobe are more likely to develop depression as compared to those with a normal functioning brain front lobe. However, there is no link if the lobe is affected before or after the depression incident.
  3. Earlier childhood trauma. A significant number of depression cases are linked to past traumatizing experiences exposed for a longer period. These effects affect how you as an individual respond to fear or anxiety.
  4. Hormones. Changes in hormonal balance can trigger depression symptoms development. This is common in young women; a few weeks after pregnancy and after delivery.
  5. Medications. Certain chronic health conditions may put you at a higher risk of depression, these include insomnia, chronic pains, ADHD, etc.
  6. Drug use. Individuals with a history of alcohol or substance use can put you at a higher risk. Research has shown that an average of 21% of individuals with a history of drug and substance abuse develop depression.

Other risk factors of depression are;

  • Stressful experiences such as the loss of someone close
  • Personality traits
  • History of mental illness
  • Specific medications

If untreated, depression can develop complications such as;

  • Relationship issues or unstable relationships with your spouse, family or friends
  • Substance and drug use disorders
  • Bodily pains
  • Suicidal thoughts or even suicidal attempts
  • Panic attacks
  • Thoughts of self-harm and self-harm behaviors
  • Drastic loss or gain of weight
  • self mutilation behaviors such as self cutting

Types of Depression Disorders

Depression disorders can be split into two categories depending on the levels of the symptom’s severity. Some people experience severe and constant episodes of depression while others experience mild and irregular depressive episodes.

  1. Major depressive disorder

This is a severe type of depression. It is portrayed by persistent moods hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness, and sadness. These feelings rarely fade on their own.

  1. Persistent depressive disorder

Its a more mild but chronic type of depression. It was previously known as dysthymia.

Prevention of depression

Medically, depression is not considered preventable. This is because its hard to establish a single cause, making the preventive measures hard as well.

However, once you experience a depressive episode, you better brace yourself in preventing future episodes through making some lifestyle changes which include;Ensure you get enough sleep

Exercising regularly

Engage in stress-reducing ways

Focus on building strong relationships with others

Follow up and maintain therapies and treatments

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