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(major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that
negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or
a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of
emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at
work and at home

Depression affects an estimated one in 15
adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience
depression at some time in their life. Depression can occur at any time, but on
average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely
than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women
will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. There is a high
degree of heritability (approximately 40%) when first-degree relatives
(parents/children/siblings) have depression.


The medical community does not fully
understand the causes of depression. There are many possible causes, and
sometimes, various factors combine to trigger symptoms.

Factors that are likely to play a role

ü genetic

ü changes
in the brain’s neurotransmitter levels

ü environmental

ü psychological
and social factors

ü additional
conditions, such as bipolar disorder


People who have depression will experience
some or all of the following symptoms almost every day for at least two weeks:


ü Feelings
of hopelessness, helplessness, emptiness, worthlessness, or guilt

ü Low
energy, fatigue

ü Irritability,
restlessness, anxiety

ü Slowed
thinking, speaking, or movement

ü Loss
of interest in activities they once enjoyed

ü Trouble
concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

ü Loss
of appetite, or eating too much

ü Weight
gain or loss

ü Trouble
sleeping, or sleeping too much

ü Headache,
stomachache, and other aches and pains that do not have a clear physical cause

ü Persistent
sad or empty mood

Some people with depression will
experience many of these symptoms. Others will have just a few. The severity of
depression symptoms can range from mild to severe enough to impact the person's
day-to-day life.


The typical treatment for depression
includes antidepressants or other medications, psychotherapy (talk therapy), or
a combination of the two interventions. Personalizing treatment to the
individual can increase the chances that it will be successful.

Antidepressants are a class of drugs used
to treat depression. They include the following types:

ü Selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often the first drugs doctors
prescribe for depression. These drugs affect the chemical messenger, serotonin,
which helps to regulate mood. Low serotonin levels have been linked to

ü Serotonin-norepinephrine
reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) work on two brain chemicals—serotonin and

ü Atypical
antidepressants act on the brain in a different way from other antidepressants.
These drugs may be an option for people who have not found relief from SSRIs or

Sometimes doctors will prescribe another
type of medication—such as an anti-anxiety drug, antipsychotic medicine, or
stimulant—along with the antidepressant. Antidepressants can take up to four
weeks to start working. It can take a few tries to find the best drug and
dosage combination that will relieve your depression.



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