By Dr. Isaac Schumann
Because most people get depressed from time to time, there is
that eternal question if depression is a real illness. The
answer is: yes. The clinical one, that is. It has been said
that about one out of eight United States residents will
become clinically depressed. Some experience it once in a
lifetime, while others have multiple episodes. This is a fact:
if a person gets depressed for the first time, there is a 50
percent chance that he will fall to the same predicament
And come the second time, there is the threat that he will go
into a third depressing episode.
Depression is a real illness as it involves the mental,
emotional and even physical faculties of the person. It is not
just a transient sad feeling that will go away when one wills
it to. There are symptoms and signs as well as corresponding
treatment. If not handled properly and immediately, it may
escalate to worse conditions. Like any other illness,
depression has also variations.
There are three types of depressive disorders: major
disorder, bipolar disorder and dysthymic disorder.
Major depression is a culmination of all the symptoms and
that intervene with one's capability to act normally. It can
happen once, but recurring episodes are possible.
Its less severe counterpart is dysthymia which is
by the same symptoms of major depression, only they do not
totally interfere with one's activities. A person who has
dysthymic disorder can suffer major depression sometime during
Bipolar disorder is also a type of depression that involves
drastic mood changes, from being very high one minute to
severely depressed the next. The manic cycle can make the
person hyper and overenthusiastic but it changes as soon as
depressed cycle hits. The depressed cycle encompasses all the
symptoms of depression.
Because depression is an illness, there are symptoms. Again,
they are the following:
1. Persistent "empty" feeling
2. Unbelievable hopelessness
3. Feeling guilty and worthless all the time
4. Lack or loss of interests in activities that used to bring
joy to the patient and this includes sex.
5. Prominent fatigue
6. Has a difficult time making decisions
7. Development of sleep problems
8. Loss of appetite and drastic weight change or loss
9. Suicidal attempts and thoughts.
10. Pronounced irritability
11. Physical aches and pains that have no physiological basis
The good news is at the end of this dark tunnel called
depression, there is hope. Treatment is available in three
types: psychotherapy, antidepressant medicine and the
combination of the two. There are also times when
electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and light therapy are
We will discuss these in depth in an upcoming article.
About The Author: Dr. Isaac Schumann brings to you a life time
of experience in the mental health field