What Is Depression? Our First Podcast!
The transcript of this podcast is below. If you prefer to listen to it, you can easily do so from the DepressionCast Web site.
Hello and welcome to DepressionCast.
I want to start our series of podcasts by addressing the question, "What is depression?" We all have times when we feel blue or sad for a couple of days. That's not depression.
When a person has a form of depression, it interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with depression and those who care about him or her. Depression is a common but serious illness, and most who experience it need treatment to get better.
Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the vast majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment.
There are several types of depression:
- Major depressive disorder: also called major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person's ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once–pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person's lifetime, but more often, it recurs throughout a person's life.
- Dysthymic disorder, also called dysthymia, is characterized by long–term (two years or longer) but less severe symptoms that may not disable a person but can prevent one from functioning normally or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.
Some forms of depression exhibit somewhat different characteristics than major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder. These forms of depression include:
- Psychotic depression, which occurs when a severe depressive illness is accompanied by some form of psychosis, such as a break with reality, hallucinations, and delusions.
- Postpartum depression is diagnosed if a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after delivery. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is characterized by the onset of a depressive illness during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not respond to light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.
Not all people with depression experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and the form of depression they're experiencing. Symptoms of depression can include:
- Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Suicidality, which is thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
"What Is Depression?" National Institute of Mental Health. June 26, 2008.
"What are the different forms of depression?" National Institute of Mental Health. June 26, 2008.
"What are the signs and symptoms of depression?" National Institute of Mental Health. June 26, 2008.
Introduction to Depression. MyDepressionConnection.com. 2006.
Living with depression isn't easy -- for people with depression or for those who care about them. Thankfully, we now have quite effective treatments that can restore the health and quality of life of most people with depression. We'll have a new episode of DepressionCast for you in two weeks. In the meantime, please visit us at MyDepressionConnection.com for information, support, or the transcript of this podcast.
For MyDepressionConnection.com and the HealthCentral Network, this is Teri Robert, wishing you health and happiness.