Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. Depression can affect people of all ages and is different for every person. The exact cause of depression is not known. Many researchers believe it is caused by chemical changes in the brain. This may be due to genetics, triggered by certain stressful events, or a combination of factors. Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression. The reason for this is unknown but may be associated with changes in hormone levels.

What are the general symptoms of depression?

  • Crying easily or for no reason
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Feeling restless, irritated, and easily annoyed
  • Feeling sad, numb, or hopeless
  • Losing interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy (including sex)
  • Thinking about death or suicide
  • Changes in appetite (eating more than usual, or eating less than usual)
  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Having other aches and pains that don’t get better with treatment
  • Having trouble paying attention, recalling things, concentrating, and making decisions
  • Headaches, backaches, or digestive problems
  • Sleeping too much, or having problems sleeping
  • Unintended weight loss or gain

What are some age-specific symptoms of depression?

  • Birth through age 2
    • Feeding problems
    • Tantrums
    • Lack of playfulness
  • Ages 3 to 5
    • Accident proneness
    • Phobias and exaggerated fears
    • Delays or regression in attainment of development milestones
    • Excessive apologies for minor mistakes
  • Ages 6 to 8
    • Vague physical complaints
    • Overly aggressive behaviors
    • Clinging to parents
    • Avoidance of new people and challenges
  • Ages 9 to 12
    • Expression of morbid thoughts
    • Extreme worry about schoolwork
    • Insomnia
    • Harsh self-blame for disappointing parents and/or teachers
  • Ages 13 to 18
    • Prolonged feelings of hopelessness
    • Unreasonable feelings of guilt
    • Irritability, anger, or hostility
    • Frequent tearfulness
    • Unusual fatigue and lack of energy
    • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
    • Restlessness and agitation
    • Reduced enthusiasm and motivation
    • Problems concentrating
    • Talk of death and suicide
    • Withdrawal from friends and family
    • Loss of interest in preferred activities

What causes depression?

  • Genetics
    • depression can be hereditary
  • A medical condition
    • problems with your thyroid, nutrient deficiencies, or chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer may cause depression.
  • Life events
    • depression can be triggered by stressful events in your life, such as the death of someone you love, a divorce, chronic illness, or loss of a job.
  • Medicines, drugs, or alcohol

How is depression treated?