Displaying extreme mood swingsDepression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being. People with a depressed mood can feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, ashamed or restless. They may lose interest in activities that were once pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details or making decisions, and may contemplate, attempt or commit suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, aches, pains, digestive problems or reduced energy may also be present.Depressed mood is a feature of some psychiatric syndromes such as major depressive disorder, but it may also be a normal reaction to life events such as bereavement, a symptom of some bodily ailments or a side effect of some drugs and medical treatments. Researchers have begun to conceptualize ways in which the historical legacies of racism and colonialism may create depressive conditions.
Adversity in childhood, such as bereavement, neglect, mental abuse, and unequal parental treatment of siblings can contribute to depression in adulthood. Childhood physical or sexual abuse in particular significantly increases the likelihood of experiencing depression over the life course.
Life events and changes that may precipitate depressed mood include childbirth, menopause, financial difficulties, job problems, a medical diagnosis (cancer, HIV, etc.), bullying, loss of a loved one,natural disasters, social isolation, relationship troubles, jealousy, separation, and catastrophic injury. Adolescents may be especially prone to experiencing depressed mood following social rejection.
Certain medications are known to cause depressed mood in a significant number of patients. These include medications for hepatitis C (such as interferon), anxiety and sleep (such as benzodiazepines likealprazolam, clonazepam, lorazepam and diazepam), high blood pressure (such as beta-blockers, methyldopa, reserpine), and hormonal treatments (such as corticosteroids, contraceptives).
Several drugs of abuse can cause or exacerbate depression, whether in intoxication, withdrawal, and from chronic use. These include alcohol, sedatives (including prescription benzodiazepines), opioids(including prescription pain killers and illicit drugs like heroin), stimulants (such as cocaine and amphetamines), hallucinogens, and inhalants. While many often report self-medicating depression with these substances, improvements in depression from drugs are usually short-lived (with worsening of depression in the long-term, sometimes as soon as the drug effects wear off) and tend to be exaggerated (e.g., "many people report euphoria after the fact with alcohol intoxication, even though at the time of intoxication they were tearful and agitated").
Depressed mood can be the result of a number of infectious diseases, nutritional deficiencies, neurological conditions and physiological problems, including hypoandrogenism (in men), Addison's disease, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. A number of psychiatric syndromes feature depressed mood as a main symptom. The mood disorders are a group of disorders considered to be primary disturbances of mood. These include major depressive disorder (MDD; commonly called major depression or clinical depression) where a person has at least two weeks of depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities; anddysthymia, a state of chronic depressed mood, the symptoms of which do not meet the severity of a major depressive episode. Another mood disorder, bipolar disorder, features one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood, cognition and energy levels, but may also involve one or more episodes of depression. When the course of depressive episodes follows a seasonal pattern, the disorder (major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, etc.) may be described as a seasonal affective disorder.
Outside the mood disorders: borderline personality disorder often features an extremely intense depressive mood; adjustment disorder with depressed mood is a mood disturbance appearing as a psychological response to an identifiable event or stressor, in which the resulting emotional or behavioral symptoms are significant but do not meet the criteria for a major depressive episode;:355 andposttraumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder that sometimes follows trauma, is commonly accompanied by depressed mood. Depression is sometimes associated with substance use disorder. Both legal and illegal drugs can cause substance use disorder.
Questionnaires and checklists such as the Beck Depression Inventory or the Children's Depression Inventory can be used by a mental health provider to detect and assess the severity of depression.
Depressed mood may not require any professional treatment, and may be a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions, or a side effect of some drugs or medical treatments. A prolonged depressed mood, especially in combination with other symptoms, may lead to a diagnosis of a psychiatric or medical condition which may benefit from treatment. Different sub-divisions of depression have different treatment approaches. In the United States, it has been estimated that two thirds of people with depression do not actively try to receive treatment.
Women have a higher rate of major depression than men. While women have a greater proportion of somatic symptoms, such as appetite, sleep disturbances and fatigue accompanied by pain and anxiety, than men, the gender difference is much smaller in other aspects of depression. Instances of suicide in men is much greater than in women. In a report by Lund University in Sweden and Stanford University, it was shown that men commit suicide at a rate almost three times that of women in Sweden, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Center for Injury Prevention and Control report that the rate in the US is almost four times as many males as females. However, women have higher rates of suicide ideation and attempts. The difference is attributed to men choosing more effective methods resulting in the higher rate of success.