Depression Chapter 1

What Is Depression? (VIDEO)

Image Caption : Take a trip inside your head to see what happens in your brain when you have depression. Hear depression sufferers talk about living with this devastating disorder, and top experts explain how depression feeds upon itself. Travel deep into the brain to zero in on the organs implicated in emotional disorders. Voyage deeper still to witness electrical impulses racing across neurons. Depression acts like a neurotoxin: view the chemicals that can cause those neurons to wither. Learn the factors that put you at risk. Discover which organs of the brain may atrophy, while others become too active. Hear a message of hope from someone who knows: even people with severe depression can become symptom-free.


Also called: Clinical depression, Dysthymic disorder, Major depressive disorder, Unipolar depression

Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It's more than just a feeling of being "down in the dumps" or "blue" for a few days. If you are one of the more than 20 million people in the United States who have depression, the feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms can include

  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Change in weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Energy loss
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression is a disorder of the brain. There are a variety of causes, including genetic, environmental, psychological, and biochemical factors. Depression usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30, and is much more common in women. Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Depression is one part of bipolar disorder.

There are effective treatments for depression, including antidepressants and talk therapy. Most people do best by using both.

NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.