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What is Depression?
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Main > Specialty Areas > Psychiatry >
Depression

Diagnosis of Depression

Diagnosing depression often involves pinpointing the exact type of the disorder.

Major /Clinical Depression

Major depression is diagnosed if a person has experienced at least 2 weeks of depressed mood with at least 4 other symptoms of depression. This is generally a more severe form of depression and although it may be triggered by stress, it is believed to be associated with a chemical imbalance in the brain. The more severe type of depression can appear without any apparent reason. The person often feels an inexplicable despair and hopelessness. These feelings may lead to suicide attempts.

Dysthymic Disorder

This is diagnosed if a person has experienced at least 2 years of depressed mood more days than not and has additional symptoms of depression. Some common symptoms noticed with this disorder are feelings of inadequacy, loss of interest or pleasure, dwelling on the past, feelings of guilt and social withdrawal. It has an early onset – as early as infanthood and usually is present for many years. Children with dysthymic disorder are usually angry, have low self-esteem and have difficulty socializing. It differs from Major Depression in that major depression consists of one or more episodes whereas dysthymic disorder may begin early in life, be less severe but is more or less continuous over the life span (unless treatment is sought).

Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood

Depression can be triggered by situations in your life that are stressful; such as moving house, loss of a job or relationship break-up. Even "positive" changes such as marriage or a new job can be difficult to adjust to. Change at any level can cause your stress levels to rise. Depression is more intense and lasts for much longer than the unhappiness experienced in daily life. Treatment is generally necessary and often very effective. Between 80%-90% of those with depression can be successfully treated. Many people will experience relief within three to six weeks.

Post-Natal Depression

The so-called "baby blues" affect about half of all new mothers. They feel mildly depressed, anxious, tense or unwell, and may have difficulty sleeping even though they are tired and lethargic. This type of depression usually only lasts for a few hours or a few days. In about 10% of mothers, these feelings of sadness develop into a serious disorder when mothers have difficulty coping with everyday demands. They can experience fear, anxiety, despondency, sadness, panic attacks and can become tense and irritable.

Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)

Bipolar depression or manic depression, leads to severe mood swings, from extreme highs to extreme lows. These states of emotional elation and unbounded energy are called mania; the low periods have the same symptoms as major depression.

‹‹ Symptoms of Depression Conventional Treatments ››

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