Depression Defined by M. L. Glaser, MD.

Depression in psychiatry basically means
feeling down or sad more days than not for a
few months. Depression can be mild or
severe. Some people don't acknowledge to
themselves that they feel sad so there are
other signs of feeling sad than just sadness.

Signs of feeling down include obvious things
such as crying spells but also includes things
that are not so obvious. The first things
affected by depression are usually sleep and
energy. Depressed people either can't sleep
despite feeling tired, or they sleep to much
and can't get out of bed in the morning to go
to work or school. Depressed people usually
feel tired most of the day until it is time to go
to sleep. They also tend to not be able to
concentrate and are forgetful. Appetite can
go up or down. Interest in sex usually drops.
Signs of more severe depression include very
low self esteem, hopelessness, and inability
to enjoy anything (called anhydonia).

Depressed mood in psychiatry can include
many different diagnosis. A person who is
depressed because of a bad situation has an
"adjustment disorder" diagnosis. A person
with a chronic low grade mild depression
without severe episodes for a long time has
"disthymia". A person with a specific period
of severe depression has "major depression".

Whenever a patient sees a doctor to evaluate
their depression, the doctor should always
check for bipolar disorder since %70 of
patients with bipolar disorder (manic-
depression) first see a doctor for depression
and not for mania. Some people with major
depression may also hallucinate (hear voices)
or have delusions (paranoia) only during
periods of severe depression but not when
they have a good/stable mood.

Depression is highly genetic. This means
that if your ancestors have or had
depression, then you are at a much higher
risk for depression than a person with no
family history of the illness.

Why should you treat depression instead of
just living with it?

Depression, like most psychiatric illnesses is
neuro-degenerative. This means that it
leads to nerve cell death. Thus, over time
the depression will likely get worse and more
difficult to treat. As a person gets older,
untreated depression will get more severe,
last longer, and the person will not return to
pre-depressed levels of
functioning. Treatment for depression,
either medication or talk therapy, leads to
nerve cell re-growth and repair. However,
the longer the depression and the more
episodes of major depression one has, the
harder it is to treat.


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