Depression is a mood disorder characterized by cognitive, psychomotor and behavioral dysfunctions that interfere with a person's daily life. There may be a single episode of major depression (which should last for at least 2 weeks) or multiple episodes; in the latter case, we speak of recurrent depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder can occur after a negative triggering event (such as a stressful situation, disappointment, unexpected and sudden bereavement, etc.) or for no apparent reason.
The causes of depression are to be found in the interaction between biological, genetic and psychosocial factors. One of the most important concerns the functioning of some neurotransmitters (substances that allow the transmission of nerve impulses), which play an important role in the mechanisms that regulate mood, the ability to react to situations and the relationship with the outside world.
Depression is more common among 1st degree relatives of depressed patients.
Numerous chronic and disabling pathological conditions (such as cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders and neoplastic processes) and the side effects of some drugs (eg corticosteroids, β-blockers, interferon and reserpine) contribute to the onset of the disease.
In women, depression can appear in some particular stages of life, such as the postpartum period or the transition to menopause.
Depression manifests itself with persistent and extreme sadness, easy crying, irritability or frustration, agitation, restlessness or, conversely, psychomotor slowdown and lack of energy.
Usually, a very low mood coexists with low self-esteem, excessive guilt or worthlessness, reduced ability to think clearly, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in carrying out usual activities, pessimism and a tendency to isolation.
In addition, somatic and organic signs may develop, such as headache, easy tiredness and exhaustion, myalgia, adynamy, reduced facial expression, sleep disturbances (insomnia, early morning awakenings or difficulty staying awake), lack of sexual desire, changes weight or appetite (weight loss, loss of appetite or hyperphagia).
Usually, other psychic symptoms coexist (eg anxiety disorders and panic attacks), sometimes complicating diagnosis and treatment. People may also have recurring thoughts of death and suicide.
Diagnosis is based on clinical evaluation. The treatments vary in relation to the characteristics of the person and the disease, the side effects and the possible presence of other pathological conditions (e.g. heart disease). As for drugs, essentially antidepressants are used (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors). These are combined with changing social rhythms and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy in order to resolve or reduce symptoms of depression and avoid disease recurrence.
Most common symptoms and signs *
- Lowering of the voice
- Increased appetite
- Decreased sexual desire
- Suicidal behavior
- Difficulty concentrating
- Bladder dysfunction
- Mood Disorders
- Muscular pains
- Nervous breakdown
- Shortness of breath
- Social isolation
- Stomach ache
- Knot in the throat
- Weight loss
- Itchy Legs
- Threw up
* Symptoms highlighted in bold are typical, but not exclusive, of Major Depression Disorder