What Is Depression?

Depression is the primary cause of suicide. For information about suicide prevention, please go to Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN USA).

Depression Image - Pixland

Since its earliest known descriptions dating back to the Old Testament, depression has been observed as a disruption of normal lifestyle. Major depressive disorder is one of two serious mood disorders (the other is bipolar disorder or manic depressive disorder) that affect every aspect of life. Because there is no mania or elevated mood in major depressive disorder, it is called "unipolar" depression.

Changes in mood are a natural, normal part of life. People usually recognize, and are comfortable with a change in mood. People with depression, however, often cannot explain the reason for becoming depressed, though they describe it as emotionally painful and saddening.

The predominant symptoms of depression are a general loss of interest and energy, and an inability to experience pleasure. A person with depression typically withdraws from or becomes impaired in social interactions. Apathy toward work, school, relationships, responsibility, and eventually toward important goals, negatively affects the person and the family. The economic cost is significant in terms of lost hours, reduced productivity, and health care.

Click here for a Depression Self-Questionnaire.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Feb 2001

Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015