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What is Depression? Types, Treatment & Importance

Depression is a type of mood disorder characterized by a continuous sense of melancholy and a loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think, and behave which leads to a number of mental and physical difficulties. It’s also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression. You may find it difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks, and you may feel a nihilistic tendency towards living. Depression is a widespread ailment that affects 3.8 percent of the world’s population, with 5.0 percent of adults and 5.7 percent of persons over 60 years old suffering from depression. Around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression.

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Types of Depression Disorders

Depression is classified into many categories based on the symptoms and causes. Often, there is no evident cause for these events. They can stay far longer in some persons than in others for no apparent cause. 

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

When people talk of clinical depression, they usually mean major depressive disorder (MDD). The symptoms of major depression (clinical depression) are severe or overwhelming and linger for more than two weeks. These symptoms make it difficult to go about your daily routine.

Major depression disorder can also be referred to as:

  • Clinical depression
  • Unipolar depression

People who suffer from clinical depression have symptoms for most of the day, every day.

It has little to do with what’s going on around you, as with many mental health issues. You can have a wonderful family, friends, and a beautiful job all at the same time. You might have a life that people lust after and still be depressed.

Even if there isn’t a clear cause for your depression, that doesn’t mean it isn’t genuine or that you can ignore it.

Major depression is a serious form of depression that manifests itself in the following ways:

  • Anguish, melancholy, or unhappiness
  • Lethargy and exhaustion, 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Unexplained aches and pains 
  • Insomnia and hypersomnia
  • A lack of interest in a previously enjoyable activity
  • Inability to make decisions due to a lack of concentration, memory issues, and inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of insignificance or hopelessness
  • Thoughts of death, self-harm, or suicide are persistent sources of worry and anxiety

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

Dysthymia, now recognized as persistent depressive disorder, is a type of chronic depression that lasts for at least two years and lasts for more days than otherwise. 

People may have brief intervals where they are not depressed, but this respite only lasts two months or fewer. While not as severe as major depressive illness, the symptoms are widespread and long-lasting.

Symptoms of PDD include:

  • Suffering with sadness
  • Loss of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Irritability and rage
  • Guilty feelings 
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Sleeping problems (inability to fall or stay asleep)
  • Feelings of despondency due to excessive sleeping
  • Tiredness and a lack of energy
  • Appetite fluctuations
  • Concentration issues

Medication and psychotherapy are frequently used in the treatment of persistent depressive disorder. Despite the fact that it is a long-term depression, the gravity of symptoms can improve for months before increasing again. Some persons experience significant depressive episodes before or during their persistent depressive disorder. This is referred to as “double depression.

Symptoms and Causes of Depression

Although depression might strike only once in a lifetime, most people have several episodes. Symptoms may occur most of the day, virtually every day, during these periods, and may include:

  • Sadness, weeping, emptiness, or a sense of hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, impatience, or frustration might occur.
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in most or all usual activities
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much 
  • Exhaustion and a lack of energy
  • Change in appetite and weight fluctuations
  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness are all symptoms of anxiety
  • Slowing down one’s thoughts, speech, or body motions
  • Feelings of inadequacy or remorse, ruminating on past failures or blaming oneself
  • Problems in thinking, concentrating, making judgments, and recalling information
  • Suicidal thoughts, attempts, or attempts at suicide are common
  • Physical issues that aren’t explained, such as back pain or migraines

Many persons with depression have significant symptoms that interfere with their day-to-day engagements, such as work, school, social activities, or interpersonal relationships. Some people may be dissatisfied or wretched in general without knowing why.

The causes of depression are unknown. However, the following may play a part

  • Differences in biology, female-born bodies are more likely.
  • The chemistry of the brain. A chemical imbalance can lead to depressive disorders
  • Hormones. Changes in the body’s hormonal levels may have a role in the development or onset of depression.
  • Genetics. A family history of mental health increases your odds.

Depression Treatment

Life with depression can be challenging, but treatment can help you survive and thrive. Discuss your choices with your healthcare practitioner. You might be able to control your symptoms with only one type of treatment, or you could discover that a combination of treatments is the most effective. Combining medicinal and lifestyle interventions is a typical practice. These include:

Medicine Used To Treat Depression

Your doctor may advise you to take:

  • Antidepressants 
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Antipsychotic drugs

Each form of depression medicine has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.


Psychotherapy (sometimes known as “talk therapy” or, in a less specific form, counseling) can help persons with depression in a lot of formats. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and problem-solving therapy are examples of evidence-based techniques for the treatment of depression.

Therapies for Brain Stimulation

If medicine fails to alleviate depressive symptoms, electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) may be an alternative to consider. According to the most recent research, people with severe depression who have not responded to conventional therapies may benefit from electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). ECT can even be utilized as a first-line intervention in some severe cases where a quick response is required or drugs are not safe to use.

Holistic Treatment Options

“Alternative,” “complementary,” or “integrative” refers to a health therapy that is not classified as a mainstream Western medical practice. Natural treatment spans a wide range of disciplines, including your nutrition and exercise, as well as your mental health and lifestyle. Inquire with your doctor about acupuncture or meditation. Some herbal supplements, such as St. John’s wort, ginkgo biloba, or fish oil, are also used as holistic ways to treat depression.

Before using a supplement or combining a supplement with prescription medicine, consult your health professional because some supplements can interact with some of these medications. Some nutrients may exacerbate depression or impair treatment effectiveness.

Find Help for Depression

If you suspect you may be suffering from depression, an assessment is the first step toward help. Our trained and experienced staff can help you learn more about your mental health and how to treat it. Contact us today so we can explore your options. 


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Medical Advice Disclaimer

Magnified Health Systems aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.

Picture of This content is verified and moderated by Dr. Brendan Bickley

This content is verified and moderated by Dr. Brendan Bickley

Dr. Bickley graduated from U.C. Irvine with honors: Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key International Honor Society, Cum Laude. He has been featured on national radio and print media. He is also a frequent lecturer at National Conferences. He holds an A.S. degree in Drug & Alcohol Studies, and two B.A. degrees in Criminology & Psychology, and masters and doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. He is a licensed California Drug & Alcohol Counselor Level II, a licensed Clinical Supervisor and is certified in treating Eating Disorders.

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