WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
It’s more than just feeling down. And it’s serious.
Depression affects your emotions, thoughts, eating and sleeping patterns, relationships and health.
This mood disorder causes you to feel deeply distressed, hopeless and sad over a long period of time. In fact, life loses meaning for some depressed people.
So it’s more than having a few tough days. And there’s no simply snapping out of it. Without treatment it can last for weeks, months or even years.
Depression lowers self-esteem, damages self-confidence and makes doing everyday things difficult.
Even brushing your teeth can become an insurmountable task.
While you can’t will it away, the great news is that depression can be treated. And it’s more common than you think – 1 in 4 people suffer from the illness.
Living with depression
AM I DEPRESSED?
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
Depression is caused by a combination of things (factors) interacting with each other.
If someone in your family has struggled with depression, you could be more vulnerable to developing depression yourself. Similarly, chronic stress can change your DNA so that you are also more likely to develop depression. One way in which your genes can make you more vulnerable to developing depression is by affecting the levels of several neurotransmitters in your brain. However, just because you are more vulnerable to developing depression, doesn’t mean that you will develop depression, since brain health challenges are usually caused by a combination of things.
Several neurotransmitter systems are believed to be involved in depression. For example, having too little dopamine makes people less likely to seek out rewarding experiences, and therefore less likely to experience positive feelings such as joyfulness. Other neurotransmitters believed to be involved in depression include serotonin and norepinephrine, each producing their own set of symptoms.
The brain undergoes changes before and during depressive episodes. Over- or under-production of some hormones, such as cortisol, may be responsible for some of the symptoms of depression. The over production of cortisol happens when the HPA axis, one of the main mechanisms involved in the stress response, is constantly stimulated. 75% of depressed patients have an overactive HPA axis. Read more about stress hormones here.
THE ROOT OF DEPRESSION
DEPRESSION AND THE BRAIN
Depression causes physical changes in the brain, from shrinking its size to disrupting the way it works.