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Depression - What, Who, How?

Depression is categorized as a mood disorder, often causing persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. It can influence a person's motivation, energy, and overall well-being, and is one of the most powerful mental health conditions a person can endure. Depression is also extremely common - about 8.7% of women and 5.3% of men have been diagnosed. Luckily, even though there are 4 main types of depressive disorders, they are easily treated - mental health professionals can always help in successful diagnosis and treatment plans.

But what IS Depression? Depression is more notably seen as a collection of symptoms with the ability to have direct impact on the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It can be caused by a wide variety of situations - biological, chemical, and environmental differences per person, which means that reasonings for depression can vary just as much.

Rather than being a single condition, the term 'depression' usually acts like an umbrella - it is a constant cycle of depressive disorders. Though each type of depression differs, they all share an overall feeling of sadness, emptiness, and irritability. The main differences between the disorders is the how long they last, the timing of the symptoms at play, and the events or situations that bring the symptoms about in the first place.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): This is the standard depressive disorder that you think of when you first hear the term 'depression'. MDD is categorized by having 5 or more symptoms of depression lasting longer than two weeks - with severity ranging from mild to intense.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia): Rather than a depressive episode that lasts a few weeks, persistent depressive disorder is categorized by a more 'stable' and consistent level of depression. Symptoms may not present themselves as severely, but the duration of the symptoms is very uncomfortable for patients diagnosed (2 years for adults, 1 year for children).

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Emotional changes during menstruation are to be expected, but with premenstrual dysphoric disorder it directly relates to the repeated change in hormones which creates a drastic shift in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In many cases, the 'flip of a switch' change can cause problems for patients in their personal life maintaining relationships and responsibilities.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD): DMDD is mostly seen in children and teens, and presents itself as anger and irritability more than sadness and loss of interest. Children with this condition are often engaging in unwanted outbursts and temper tantrums.

Other common depressive disorders: Sometimes, depressive symptoms can be apparent in people who do not fall under the 'depressed