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Major depressive disorder, commonly referred to as depression, is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in enjoyable activities.  This fairly common disorder can affect how one thinks and feels and how they live their daily lives.  Depression can also have an affect on physical health and sometimes leads to the belief that life isn’t worth living.  





Depression entails much more than feelings of sadness.  A variety of symptoms affecting a person’s mood and/or body can be caused by depression.  Episodes of depression may only occur once through life, but it is more common to have multiple episodes.  During these depressive episodes, symptoms may occur most of the day, almost every day and might include:


  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness

  • Outbursts of anger, frustration over small matters

  • Anxiety or agitation

  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

  • Sleep disturbances or sleeping too much

  • A lack of energy, where small tasks seem to take extra effort

  • Lack of appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings and weight gain

  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and a fixation on failures

  • Difficulty thinking, making decisions, and remembering

  • Frequent thoughts of death, suicide, or attempts of suicide

  • Unexplained physical symptoms, such as headaches or back pain




Common causes of depression may include:


  • Family history, where one or more close relatives also have depression or other mood disorders.

  • Childhood trauma can affect the way a person’s body reacts to stress and fear.

  • Brain structure, particularly if the frontal lobe is less active. 

  • Medical conditions such as chronic illness, chronic pain, insomnia, or ADHD.

  • Drug use has shown to increase one’s risk for developing depression.




Finding the right treatment plan for depression can greatly improve one’s quality of life.  It’s possible that a combination of treatments may be needed, including:

  • Medications such as antidepressants or antianxiety.

  • Psychotherapy which includes talking with a therapist.

  • Alternative therapies, including acupuncture and meditation, have been known to help.

  • Light therapy has been found to help regulate mood.

  • Exercise can increase the production of endorphins, the hormones that improve mood.

  • Avoiding harmful substances such as alcohol and drugs

  • Taking care of one’s self by getting adequate amounts of sleep, eating healthy foods, avoiding negative people and situations, and engaging in enjoyable activities.

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