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What Is Depression?

By HERWriter
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Mental Health related image Erwin Wodicka/PhotoSpin

Have you felt worthless, suffered from low self-esteem, had difficulty getting out of bed, felt tired all the time or experienced major changes in appetite over a period of time? These are just some symptoms of the condition people refer to as “depression.”

There are several different types of depression, and clinical depression is considered a mental disorder. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), there is a section devoted to mood disorders, and a subsection of depressive disorders. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association, and is a guide for mental health professionals to use in order to diagnose patients with the correct mental disorder.

When most people think of depression as a mental disorder, they are thinking of depressive disorders, which include major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder and depressive disorder not otherwise specified. There is also a major depressive episode that involves depressive symptoms. The word “depression” can be used in everyday language to imply feeling sad, unhappy or “down” for a short period of time, but being depressed in this sense doesn’t necessarily mean you have a mental disorder.

The National Institute of Mental Health’s website states that there are three main types of depression: major depression, dysthymia and bipolar disorder. In the DSM, these are called major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder is considered a mood disorder. The website adds that general symptoms of depression include feeling sad, anxious or lacking feeling, having problems concentrating and remembering, feeling restless and irritable, having headaches and digestive issues, and losing interest in activities you enjoyed before. Suicidal thoughts or attempts can sometimes occur with depression.

The main differences between the various types of clinical depression involve severity and time frame of symptoms and levels of functioning. In major depression or major depressive disorder, the DSM states that there can be a single episode or recurrent major depressive episodes.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.