Depression is one of the most common yet misunderstood mental health conditions in the world. Depression is often mistaken as sadness, but it is much more than that. “Clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships — symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks.” -WebMD
Depression is a serious condition believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors, and it’s not that easy for sufferers to just “get better”. There are 14.8 million people in the United States who are suffering from this condition, and they aren’t just looking for attention.
What Does Depression Look Like?
A clinically depressed person is likely to be in a solemn mood for a majority of the day, especially early in the morning. They struggle with fatigue and a general lack of energy, as well as the nagging feeling of worthlessness. Clinically depressed individuals often lack the ability to focus and have trouble enjoying activities they participate in throughout the day. Other symptoms may come arise, such as weight loss or weight gain, insomnia or hypersomnia or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. If you or someone you know feels constantly under-stimulated, uninterested and sad, clinical depression may be to blame.
What Causes It?
There are many possible causes of depression and no major medical consensus on what the prime factor is. While depression does have to do with chemical imbalances, this alone does not explain the complex factors that come into play when it comes to what depression is and where it comes from.
Researchers have hypothesized that depression may be caused by malfunctions of the hippocampus or thalamus, where mood is said to stem from. A decrease in neurotransmitter activity, or the chemical messages that travel from neuron to neuron, could cause a person’s mood to be altered.
Other factors could contribute to depression such as diet, exercise habits, other medications or drugs. One thing that researchers agree on is that depression does not likely have a single cause. The brain is a complex organ which is affected by all kind of factors, both internal and external to the body. It’s clear the brain has a role, but the primary cause has not yet been established.
Mental illness is hard to understand because you can’t “see” it. Mentally healthy people often can’t understand why their mentally ill peers can’t seem to get out of their slump. The truth is, though, that mental health issues are often out of the control of the sufferer and should be treated as any other physical ailment.
What is most important for someone who is dealing with depression is to go out and get treated. Medication and therapy can play a big role in easing symptoms. If you or someone you know may be depressed, seek professional help. Visit www.caminar.org for information regarding the mental health services we provide.