What are the causes?
There seems to be no single cause, although the leading scientific theory is that depression is a result of an imbalance in the brain’s neurotransmitters, as this video explains.*
What Is Depression?
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that send signals between brain cells. A person’s genetic history may also play a role in that person’s tendency to become depressed. Individuals suffering from certain medical illnesses such as stroke, heart attack, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and hormonal disorders are susceptible to depression. People who are experiencing a serious loss, difficult relationship, financial problem, or any stressful change in life also have higher rates of depression.
A national study found that nearly all who report a major depressive disorder also report that their social and/or work lives are negatively affected. Statistics show that over 30,000 people commit suicide each year — 60% of whom had been diagnosed with major depression.
The Symptoms of Depression
According to the standard diagnosis guide (DSM-IV-TR), depression is diagnosed when an individual is experiencing a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure, plus four or more of the following:
- Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain (a change of more than five percent of body weight in a month).
- Significant increase or decrease in appetite.
- Excessive sleepiness or insomnia.
- Agitation and restlessness.
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive and inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think, concentrate or make decisions.
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
There is not one specific method to reduce depression, but with effective treatment, many people can remain symptom-free. If you feel you suffer from depression, be proactive in seeking help.
- Take the depression assessment test (PHQ-9) found on this website.
- Contact your primary-care physician to discuss your score and your symptoms.
- Call the Front Porch at 901.762.8558 for help in seeking ways to reduce depression.
- Review the Twelve Pathways.
- Always seek immediate help if you believe you are at risk of suicide, by calling 911, by going to your closest hospital emergency department, or by calling 1.800.784.2433, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
For more detailed information about depression, please visit the following links and resources.*
What Is Chronic Depression?
Are You at Risk for Depression?
Differences Between Sadness and Depression
*These videos and links will give you access to information not produced by Methodist Healthcare.