Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, is a mental health problem where a person feels sad, worthless, and uninterested in things they normally enjoy for at least two weeks. There is no test to diagnose it, but doctors will ask questions about a person’s experiences and behavior to determine if they have it. It’s most common in people in their 20s, and women are affected twice as often as men. It can last a short time or be a lifelong condition with episodes of depression that come and go. People with a major depressive disorder are usually treated with counseling and medication, but in severe cases, hospitalization or electroconvulsive therapy may be needed. The disorder is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. It can cause problems in a person’s personal and work life, affect their sleep and eating habits, and impact their overall health. Around 2% of the world’s population, or approximately 163 million people, have a major depressive disorder.
Signs & Symptoms of clinical depression
Major depression can have a big impact on a person’s life. They might feel sad all the time and not enjoy things they used to like. They might also think a lot about negative things and have trouble sleeping or eating. They could have physical symptoms like headaches or fatigue. Depression can make it hard for them to go to school or work and be around other people. Some people might even think about suicide. Depression can affect people of any age, but it might show up differently in children or older people. It can be hard to diagnose and treat, especially if the person has other health problems or is taking other medications.
Causes of clinical depression
Depression can be caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. Stressful events can trigger depression in people who already have a vulnerability, which could be caused by genetics or childhood experiences. Negative thoughts can also contribute to depression. Childhood abuse, neglect, and family problems can increase the risk and severity of depression. Some people are more susceptible to developing depression after trauma due to certain genes.
Research suggests that genetics play a big role in determining someone’s risk for major depressive disorder, accounting for about 40% of differences between individuals. There are many different genetic factors that could contribute to depression, with recent studies identifying dozens of specific genetic variants associated with the condition. However, some researchers have criticized studies that focus too narrowly on individual genes, as this can sometimes lead to inaccurate results. Other studies are exploring how environmental stressors can interact with genetic risk factors to influence depression.
Depression can happen after a long-term illness or because of certain medications. It can also be caused by hormonal changes after giving birth or a lack of sunlight. Substance use in early age can increase the risk of developing depression later in life. A deficiency in certain vitamins can also cause depression in females.
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