February 1, 2017

Depression: The Most Common Illness in the World

The World Health Organization recognizes depression as the most common illness in the world and estimates that 350 million people are affected by depression globally [1].  Depression is a condition where the severity of the condition varies greatly from person to person.

Depression is a mental health disorder in which the patient faces sadness and loss of interest in various aspects of their life. These feelings often result in an unhealthy condition of the patient’s mood. It is common for people to confuse common fluctuations in the mood with depression. These fluctuations are part of a normal and healthy life; therefore depression cannot be classified by fluctuations in the mood over a very short period of time. The standard period of a depressive episode is usually 6-8 months to be classified as depression [2].

Since depression is a very complex disease, it is extremely difficult to narrow down a generalized cause. The condition varies patient to patient and a series of factors are observed in order to diagnose a patient. For instance, genetics and biological changes in neurotransmitter levels may cause depression. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain that affect chemical changes in the body which cause a change in mood. Also, a family history of depression elevates the chances for the condition, as it is a genetic condition. Looking into family history in cases of depression is a common procedure for family physicians. Furthermore, there are environmental and physiological factors that may contribute to depression. These factors are often determined by social and personal factors a person may face in everyday life.

These causes are often self-diagnosed, but it is vitally important that patients seek a medical professional’s attention in order to further classify the type of condition that they may be facing. Being in a bad mood doesn’t always signify depression, so it is best to get a professional opinion.

[1] Depression. World Health Organization. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

[2] Depression: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. MacGill, Markus. Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/kc/depression-causes-symptoms-treatments-8933

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