Everyone feels sad now and again, but some people experience a severe unhappiness that interferes with everyday life, known as depression.

Depression affects men and women of all ages, including children, and can be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable or down in the dumps.

While no one knows the exact cause of depression, many researchers believe depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that may be hereditary or triggered by the events in a person’s life. However, the condition may also occur in those with no family history.

Depression symptoms include the following:

  • Agitation, restlessness and irritability
  • Dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
  • Extreme difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate and inappropriate guilt
  • Inactivity and withdrawal from usual activities, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed (such as sex)
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping

A person with major depression usually exhibits five or more of the above symptoms for at least two weeks. Most people with depression benefit from antidepressant drug therapy, along with psychotherapy.

If you think you or someone you know may have depression, contact us for a free psychiatric assessment.

For more information on depression, visit the National Institutes of Health.