Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In everyday language "depression" refers to any downturn in mood, which may be relatively transitory and perhaps due to something trivial. This is differentiated from Clinical depression which is marked by symptoms that last two weeks or more and are so severe that they interfere with daily living.
In the field of psychiatry the word depression can also have this meaning but more specifically refers to a mental illness when it has reached a severity and duration to warrant a diagnosis. The Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM) states that a depressed mood is often reported as being: "... depressed, sad, hopeless, discouraged, or 'down in the dumps'."
Determinants of mood
Depression can be the result of many factors, individually and acting in concert.
Reactions to events, often a loss in some form, are perhaps the most obvious causes. This loss may be obvious, such as the death of a loved one, or having moved from one house to another (mainly with children), or less obvious, such as disillusionment about one's career prospects. Monotonous environments can be depressing. The mere fact of painting a workplace can stimulate productivity. A lack of control of one's environment can lead to feeling of helplessness. Domestic disputes and financial difficulties are common causes of a depressed mood.
Internal psychological factors
Sometimes the depressed mood may relate more to internal processes or even be triggered by them. Pessimistic views of life or a lack of self-esteem in themselves can lead to depression. Illnesses and changes in cognition that occur in psychoses and dementias, to name but two, can lead to depression.
Biological models of causation
Adaptive benefits of depression
While a depressed mood is usually seen as deleterious, it may have adaptive benefits. Of interest is the fact that physical illness tend to lead to depressive behaviour and some diseases such as influenza are often accompanied by a degree of depression that seems out of proportion to the physical illness. A depressed mood is adaptive in illness in that it leads to the person resting and in generally elicits care. Seasonal affective disorder may point to an atavistic link with behaviour in hibernation.
Mental disorders with depression
A depressed mood is usually a core feature of some mental disorders such as:
- manic depression (Bipolar disorder)
- clinical depression
- endogenous depression
- reactive or neurotic depression
- atypical depression
- psychotic depression
- seasonal affective disorder
- adjustment disorder with depressed mood
- Mood Monitor Self test adopted from the Goldberg Depression Inventory for electronic distribution
- Depression and Bipolar Disorder A description of the various forms of depression vs. bipolar disorder
- Mozilla Open Directory: Depression - categorized links relating to the topic of depression.
- A Buddhist View on Depression
- Depressed? Read Abraham Lincoln's Words
- McMan's Depression and Bipolar Web
- Depression Forums - A Depression & Mental Health Community Support Group
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