Depression is a medical condition that leads to intense feelings of sadness or despair. These feelings don't go away on their own. They are not necessarily related to a particular life event.
What is going on in the body?
Depression is a disorder of the brain. Researchers believe that chemicals called neurotransmitters are involved in depression. Nerve impulses cause the release of neurotransmitters from one nerve cell to the next. This release allows cells to communicate with one another. Too little or too much of these important neurotransmitters may be released and cause or contribute to depression. Some of the neurotransmitters believed to be linked to depression are serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
Here are some of the common types of depression:
Bipolar disorder: Also called manic depression, bipolar disorder is a type of depression that has either subtle or extreme "high" periods alternating with "low" periods of depression.
Dysthymia: This type of depression is characterized by ongoing yet mild symptoms of depression.
Major depressive disorder: This type of clinical depression is characterized by a severe lack of interest in the things that were once enjoyed or nonstop feelings of sadness.
Seasonal affective disorder: This type of depression occurs seasonally and is caused by lack of sunlight.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
There are many theories about what causes depression. Depression may be caused by any of these things:
certain medicines, including antibiotics and medicines used to treat acne
changes in brain chemicals
lack of sunlight
negative thinking patterns
Risk factors for depression include:
drug abuse and addiction
personal history of a suicide attempt
personal or family history of depression
Risk factors for depression can also be specific to an age group, such as children, adolescents, and seniors. Women who have just given birth may be at risk for postpartum depression.