Related articles: Major depression
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by cognitive, psychomotor and behavioral dysfunctions that interfere with a person's daily life. A single episode of major depression (which must last at least 2 weeks) or more episodes may occur; in the latter case, we speak of recurrent depressive disorder.
Major depressive disorder can occur after a negative triggering event (such as a stressful situation, a disappointment, an unexpected and sudden grief etc.) or for no apparent reason.
The causes of depression are to be found in the interaction between biological, genetic and psychosocial factors. One of the most important concerns the functioning of some neurotransmitters (substances that allow the transmission of nerve impulses), which play an important role in the mechanisms that regulate mood, the ability to react to situations and the relationship with the outside world.
Depression is more frequent among 1st grade family members of depressed patients.
Numerous chronic and invalidating pathological conditions (such as cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders and neoplastic processes) and the side effects of some drugs (eg corticosteroids, ? -Blocks, interferon and reserpine) contribute to the onset of the disease.
In women, depression can appear in some particular phases of life, such as the postpartum period or the transition to menopause.
Most common symptoms and signs *
- Lowering of the voice
- Increased appetite
- Decline in sexual desire
- Suicidal behavior
- Difficulty concentrating
- Bladder dysfunction
- Mood disorders
- Muscle pains
- Nervous breakdown
- Shortness of breath
- Social isolation
- Stomach ache
- Knot in the throat
- Weight loss
- Leg itch
- He retched
Depression manifests itself with persistent and extreme sadness, ease of crying, irritability or frustration, agitation, restlessness or, on the contrary, psychomotor slowing down and lack of energy.
Usually, a very low mood coexists with low self-esteem, excessive guilt or worthlessness, reduced ability to think clearly, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in performing habitual activities, pessimism and tendency to isolation.
Somatic and organic signs may also develop, such as headaches, easy fatigue and exhaustion, myalgia, adynamia, reduced facial expressions, sleep disorders (insomnia, early morning awakenings or difficulty in staying awake), lack of sexual desire, changes weight or appetite (weight loss, loss of appetite or hyperphagia).
Usually, other psychic symptoms (eg anxiety disorders and panic attacks) coexist, sometimes complicating diagnosis and treatment.
The subject can also manifest recurring thoughts of death and suicide.
Diagnosis is based on clinical evaluation (DSM-IV-TR criteria).
The treatments vary according to the characteristics of the person and the illness, to the side effects and to the possible presence of other pathological conditions (eg heart disease). Regarding drugs, antidepressants (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors) are essentially used. These are combined with changing social rhythms and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy in order to resolve or reduce the symptoms of depression and avoid recurrence of the disease.