What is the Exact Definition of Depression?

How would you define depression? That must surely be a million dollar question because it is virtually impossible to define depression with only a few words. In fact, to define it properly would require several books. Having said that, most people nowadays do have a basic understanding as to what is meant by the term ‘depression’, but none the less, let’s just go ahead and say that depression is a state of mind which usually follows an event which has given rise to feelings of sadness and/or resentment. However, in the case of depression, this depressive state of mind tends to be out of proportion to the reason which caused it.

How else can we define depression?

o It is a condition which more than 100 million people from around the globe suffer from on a daily basis

o It is a mental condition which is becoming ever more prevalent in society

o It is a condition which is affecting more and more children regularly

o It is a condition which can be treated but often left untreated

Even though there are so many different forms of treatment, some more successful than others, and some with fewer side effects than others, doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of depression. However, it is known that the following factors may contribute:

o Genetics

o Medication

o Chemical imbalances in the brain

o Long-term negative mental attitude

o Immediate environment

o Established undesirable behavioral patterns

o Relationship problems

o Childhood abuse

o Sexual abuse

While these are by no means the only factors which could contribute towards a person becoming depressive, they are certainly amongst the most common factors. However, the vast majority of the medical professions are in agreement that depression is for the most part a result of several factors rather than a single factor. In other words, while a person may be capable of dealing with something, such as having been abused as a child, when another contributing factor is added, depression can often result.

Interestingly enough, there is still a phenomenal amount of research being done in which scientists are now investigating the role of neurotransmitters in the brain. These are essentially chemicals which occur naturally in the brain and which are responsible for various communication processes. The three chemicals which have been attracted the most attention are:

1. Serotonin

2. Dopamine

3. Norepinephine

Generally speaking, these chemicals are responsible for the “feel good” feeling, and this is why the vast majority of prescription antidepressants focus on altering the quantity of these chemicals in the brain. Additionally, certain antidepressants work by preventing the body of depleting these chemicals. By preventing depletion or by increasing production, it is possible to promote a feeling of well being and as such, it is possible to alleviate the symptoms of depression. However, by their very nature, many of the drugs which are used to achieve these results are known to cause dependency.

The bottom line is; rather than try to define what depression is, there is more focus on trying to determine the exact cause, so that the 100+ million sufferers in the world today can look forward to a brighter, happier future.

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