Depression (a.k.a: Major Depression, Unipolar Depression, or Clinical Depression) is a psychological and mental disorder. 1 out of 4 women and 1 out of 10 men would suffer depression in their lifetime. It is different from sadness as sadness lasts for few days whereas depression lasts from months to years. However, it is a treatable condition.


What is Depression?

Depression can be simply defined as chemical imbalance in the brain. This may happen due to various biological, psychological, or environmental factors. Other than clinical depression, different forms of depression are present that have similar symptoms but differ in underlying cause.

Other forms of depression:

  • Melancholia: It is a severe form of depression in which patient have lost pleasure or joy in most of the things of life.
  • Psychotic Depression: This condition is associated with psychosis. People with this disorder may experience hallucinations of things that are not present and delusions of being watched or followed.
  • Postpartum Depression: This condition is associated with child birth. Some women after giving birth may experience depression due to the stress, hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and being socially inactive.
  • Bipolar Disorder: This condition is different from depression. It is also called maniac depression. The patients have severe mood swings and experience periods of depression followed by periods of highly elevated mood.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder: It is a condition in which depression lasts for more than two years. It is a chronic depressive disorder.

What Causes Depression?

Depression is caused due to hormonal fluctuations. Imbalance in serotonin levels triggers psychological and physical reactions in the brain. This causes mood disturbances, eventually leading to depression. Other causes:

  • Low estrogen levels due to thyroid problems, menopause, or other conditions
  • Genetic factors

Symptoms of Depression:

Not just physical but depression also affects emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Symptoms are:

Physical Mood swings Memory impairment Not being social
Tiredness Anxiety Confusion Withdrawal from others
Lack of energy Anger Suicidal thoughts Changes in personal appearance
Too much sleep or no sleep Guilt Self-criticism
Unexplained pain Hopelessness
Weight gain or loss Irritability
Loss of motivation

Depression can be classified into mild, moderate and severe based on the severity of the symptoms.

Risk Factors of Depression:

Previous history of depression and family history are risk factors for depression. Other predisposing factors are:

  • Females between age group of 20 and 40
  • Stress
  • Chronic illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Severe psychological events such as death of a loved person, divorce, or separation
  • Physical disability
  • Postpartum period
  • Social isolation
  • Low economic status
  • Unemployment

Complications of Depression:

Depression is a serious mood disorder. If it is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as:

  • Obesity
  • Tendency to commit suicide
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Family distress

Diagnosis of Depression:

The healthcare provider performs a physical examination initially. Then, a psychological examination is performed to determine the cause and state of depression.

Diagnostic criteria for depression: A diagnostic criteria is determined for accurate diagnosis. Presence of 5 or more of the symptoms for more than two weeks indicates depression.

Depression Treatments:

Depression is curable and can be treated with medications, electroconvulsive therapy, psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and supplements. Some patients may require single therapy and some may require combinational therapy depending on the severity of depression.

Medications: Antidepressants are used to treat depression and can help to regulate mood. Examples of antidepressant are:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine, sertraline, and fluvoxamine.
  • Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine, and duloxetine.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as amitryptiline, nortryptiline, and desipramine.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOs) such as tranylcypromine and phenelzine.
  • Atypical antidepressants such as bupropion.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): It is often referred to as shock treatment. This procedure involves passage of small electric currents into brain by keeping the patient under anesthesia. This treatment is given for patients with severe depression and who didn’t respond to antidepressants. The patients may require 8 to 12 treatments.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): It is an effective treatment for patients with mild to moderate depression. It is psychological therapy that aids in changing pattern of thoughts and behavior. Patients usually may need 10 to 15 sessions or a few weeks of therapy to cure from depression.

Supplements: Healthcare provider may also prescribe supplements of iron, zinc, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Coping with depression is very essential for effective treatment. Address your mental needs and seek help whenever needed. Counseling and education about depression may help to accept the diagnosis.

Prevention and Cure for Depression:

Depression can be preventable by following some lifestyle modifications. They are:

  • Consume healthy diet rich in phytoestrogens, magnesium, and vitamin E.
  • Exercise regularly. This can help to improve sleep and make the day active.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Get enough good sleep.
  • Reduce stress by avoiding overworking and taking time to relax.
  • Being social.
  • Record your feelings or share your feelings with a beloved one.

Healthy foods to Prevent Depression:

  1.  Foods Containing Phytoestrogens – Soya beans, prunes, garlic, water melon, and strawberries
  2.  Foods Containing Magnesium – Almonds, spinach, oats, flax seeds, and avocad
  3.  Foods Containing Vitamin E – Papaya, spinach, dried apricots, broccoli, and green olives


1. Does depression cause weight loss?
Depression may cause weight loss or weight gain. It depends on the individual affected with depression. Some people may lose appetite and some may have high appetite during the episodes of depression.

2. What is postnatal depression?

Postpartum depression is also known as postnatal depression. It occurs after giving birth to a child.

3. Does depression come back?

Yes, depression can come back like any other medical condition. This condition is also called as depression relapse. It may occur after a short period of taking treatment for depression due to any risk factor.

4. When is depression clinical?

Any individual can feel sad at some point in their lifetime. But, presenting with symptoms of depression more than two weeks indicates clinical depression. Symptoms may include losing interest in daily activities, not being social, being moody, and lack of sleep.


Depression: Major Depression Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Cure