Stress, genetic predisposition, family problems, economic woes etc. etc., many situations can cause mild and more severe forms of depression in the world today. In times past there was a stigma to mental disorders and states described as mental illness. Now the stigma is much less pronounced in most groups and people now recognize that it is not a condition to be ashamed of and readily treated often when addressed early. Now it is well documented in the literature that many people benefit from lifestyle changes including stress reduction techniques, regular exercise such as aerobic or yoga, dietary modifications, medications, and counseling sessions. Some more severe forms of depression may necessitate hospitalization and psychiatric consultations and other therapies.

Depression is defined as “a primary mood disorder characterized by  a depressed mood and/or decreased interest in things that used to give pleasure (ahedonia) during the same 2 week period, and representing a change from previous functioning” (D.C. Clements, p 360).

According to the DSM-IV TR the following criteria are representative of depression

  1. Weight loss or gain when not dieting.
  2. Changes in the desire for sex, usually less desire.
  3. Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  4. Psychomotor agitation or retardation or
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy.
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inapproprate guilt everyday.
  7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate nearly every day.
  8. Recurrent thought of death and suicidal ideation without a specific plan.
  9. No evidence of mixed symptoms suggesting a mixed episode of depression and mania.
  10. Impairment in social or occupational functions.
  11. The symptoms should not be related to a grief reaction.
  12. The symptoms should not be related to substance abuse.
    ( Epocrates , Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR)

An approximate 78 million people are affected with depression in the United States and it distributed in the population typically in a 2>1 ratio when comparing women to men.  Depression is the 4th most common reason to visit a practitioner, so you are not alone. It has been shown that people with a first episode of depression, that 50% will have a recurrence later in life, so long term therapy may be required for some to achieve the maximal effect and the best long term results. A good quality of life is always the goal (D.C. Clements, p360-361).

Risk Factors

Family history of depression or other mood disorders increases the chances, along with presence of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular problems and history of heart attack or ulcer disease. History of abuse, alcoholism, losses or stresses in life, divorce, living single or an unhappy marriage also prompt the condition. There are many reasons people develop depressive symptoms (D.C. Clements, p361)


There are many medications that are safe and effective and give people lot of relief from this oftentimes debilitating problem. It is important that one gets help so that with time the condition will improve with the proper treatment. The prognosis when treated properly and for the time frame that is appropriate is better than 70% with significant improvement.

  1. The 5-Minute Clinical Consult 2012, D.C. Clements, p 360-361.
  2. Epocrates , taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR, of the American Psychiatric Association