skip to content  >  Psychology Guide  >  Disorders  >  Depression


Depression is a serious mental disorder in which a person suffers long periods of sadness and other negative feelings. The term depression also describes a normal mood involving the sadness, grief, disappointment, or loneliness that everyone experiences at times. This article discusses depression as a mental disorder. 

Depressed people may feel fearful, guilty, or helpless. They often cry, and many lose interest in work and social life. Many cases of depression also involve aches, fatigue, loss of appetite, or other physical symptoms. Some depressed patients try to harm or kill themselves. Periods of depression may occur alone, or alternate with periods of mania (extreme joy and overactivity) in a disorder called manic depressive psychosis. 

Psychiatrists do not fully understand the causes of depression, but they have several theories. Some psychiatrists believe that depression follows the loss of a relative, a friend, a job, or a valued goal. Many psychiatrists believe that experiences that occur during early childhood may make some people especially subject to depression later in life. 

According to another theory, disturbances in the chemistry of the brain occur during depression. Brain cells communicate with one another by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters. Some experts think that certain neurotransmitters become underactive during depression and overactive during mania. These changes in brain chemistry may be related to disturbances in the body's internal rhythms. 

Treatments for depression include hospitalization, psychotherapy, chemotherapy (drugs), and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Hospitalization is an essential treatment for depressed patients who are suicidal. In psychotherapy, the psychiatrist tries to understand (1) the childhood events that make a person subject to depression and (2) the events that preceded the patient's current depression. The most commonly prescribed antidepressant is a drug called fluoxetine. Fluoxetine is marketed under the name Prozac. Lithium carbonate is a drug used in treating manic-depressive people. Electroconvulsive therapy is generally used only for patients who fail to respond to other treatment. 


Additional resources 

Bowlby, John. Attachment and Loss. Vol. 3: Sadness and Depression. Hogarth Press, Institute of Psychoanalysis, London, 1980. 

Breton, Sue. Element Guide to Depression. : Your Questions Answered. Element Books, Shaftesbury, Dorset, U.K., 1996. 

Carlson, Trudy. Depression in the Young: What Can We Do To Help Them. Benline Press, Duluth, Minnesota, U.S.A., 1997. 

Eagle, Robert. Eating and Allergy: Arthritis, Ulcers, Migraine, Heart Disease, Hyperactivity, Depression. Are They Caused By What We Eat? Thorsons, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, U.K., 1986. 

McCoy, Kathy. Coping With Teenager Depression: A Parent's Guide. New American Library, New York, 1982. 

Milligan, Spike and Clare, Anthony W. Depression and How To Survive It. Ebury Press, London, 1992. 

Nairne, Kathy. Dealing With Depression. Women's Press, London, 1984. 

Pownall, Mark. Depression and Suicide. Heinemann Library, Oxford, U.K., 1993. One of the vols. in the Life Crisis series.


Bookmark this page

  • Bookmark to: Mr. Wong Bookmark to: Oneview Bookmark to: Linkarena Bookmark to: Folkd Bookmark to: Digg Bookmark to: Bookmark to: Facebook Bookmark to: Reddit Bookmark to: Jumptags Bookmark to: Simpy Bookmark to: StumbleUpon Bookmark to: Slashdot Bookmark to: Propeller Bookmark to: Furl Bookmark to: Yahoo Bookmark to: Spurl Bookmark to: Google Bookmark to: Blinklist Bookmark to: Blogmarks Bookmark to: Diigo Bookmark to: Technorati Bookmark to: Newsvine Bookmark to: Blinkbits Bookmark to: Ma.Gnolia Bookmark to: Smarking Bookmark to: Netvouz


Share |