Depression is a medical condition resulting from chemical imbalances in the brain that can result from a genetic predisposition (family history), trauma or overwhelming stress, and other medical conditions or psychological disorders. It is one of the most common psychological problems, and every year over 20 million people in the United States experience a depressive illness. Depression affects a patientÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s body, thoughts, and general mood, and can impact eating and sleeping, functioning at home, work, or in social environments. Depression has an impact not only on the person who suffers from it, but also on their friends and family. It affects all demographics of people, and can often go undiagnosed and thus untreated.
There are several different types or forms of depression, mainly varying in number, severity, and duration of symptoms. Major depression is the most serious type of depression, with the most numerous and severest, though widely variable, symptoms. Bipolar disorder, or manic-depression, is characterized by cycling high and low mood swings. Dysthymia is less severe than major depression, but lasts for a much longer time and is not episodic in nature. Symptoms of depression may include persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, anxiety, worthlessness, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies, loss of energy, changes in eating or sleeping, headaches, restlessness, and irritability.