what is depression psychology online courses

What is Depression?

Learn more about what is depression with our article. Boost your knowledge and skills!

According to WHO (World Health Organization): Depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 264 million people affected. It is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Especially when long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. Although there are known, effective treatments for mental disorders, between 76% and 85% of people in low- and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their disorder. Barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers and social stigma associated with mental disorders. Another barrier to effective care is an inaccurate assessment. In countries of all income levels, people who are depressed are often not correctly diagnosed, and others who do not have the disorder are too often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants. The burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally. A World Health Assembly resolution passed in May 2013 has called for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at the country level.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health: Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

According to the American Psychiatric Association: Depression 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. It causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and home. Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumour or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms so it is important to rule out general medical causes. Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience it at some time in their life. It can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience it. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

The difference between depression, sadness and grief

The death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences for a person to endure. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations. Those experiencing loss often might describe themselves as being “depressed.” But being sad is not the same as having depression. The grieving process is natural and unique to each individual and shares some of the same features of depression. Both grief and depression may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from usual activities. They are also different in important ways:

1. In grief, painful feelings come in waves, often intermixed with positive memories of the deceased. In major depression, mood and/or interest (pleasure) are decreased for most of two weeks.

2. In grief, self-esteem is usually maintained. In major depression, feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are common.

3. For some people, the death of a loved one can bring on major depression. Losing a job or being a victim of a physical assault or a major disaster can lead to depression for some people. When grief and depression co-exist, grief is more severe and lasts longer than grief without depression. Despite some overlap between grief and depression, they are different. Distinguishing between them can help people get the help, support or treatment they need.

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