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Depression: All You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD · General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jun 30, 2021

Depression: All You Need to Know

What is Depression?

Depression is the most common mental disorders. It is a serious medical illness that affects how a person feels, thinks, and acts. Depression can decrease a person’s ability to function normally, and can lead to a number of emotional and even physical problems. Learning all you need to know about depression is important since it can help you manage your own depression, or take care of someone with depression.

Read on to find out all you need to know about depression, especially how to handle this condition.

How common is depression?

Depression is a mental health problem that affects over 234 million people globally. Nearly 20 percent of the world’s population experience a bout of clinical depression in their lifetime. It is a condition that can affect both the mental and physical well-being of a person.

Severe cases of depression can even lead to suicide. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 800,000 people die from suicide every year. It is also recognized as the second leading cause of death in people aged 15-29.

But despite this, depression, along with other mental health problems, carries a stigma. Most of the time, depression is dismissed as just in a person’s head, or that someone with depression will “snap out of it.’ But depression is an actual medical condition, and treating it like one can help people seek help for their depression.

What Are The Symptoms of Depression?

Out of all you need to know about depression, the symptoms of depression are arguably the most important. Recognizing what depression is can help people seek treatment in order to get better.

Here are some of the symptoms to watch out for:

  • Loss of appetite, or the opposite, overeating
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or previously enjoyable activities
  • Constantly feeling tired or fatigued
  • Loss of motivation or sense of purpose
  • Feeling worthless
  • Having difficulty when it comes to decision-making
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide ideation
  • Act restless, or can’t keep still

If these symptoms last for two weeks or more, then it can be a possible sign of depression.

When should I see my doctor?

If you experience any of the symptoms above, then it might be a good idea to talk to a counselor or a therapist about depression.

You might also feel hesitant about seeking help, and might not be ready to talk to a professional about it. If you feel this way, it would be good to reach out to a close friend or a loved one to talk about how you are feeling. Talking about it might help you get yourself ready to professional help.

Causes & Risk Factors

What causes depression?

Depression can be caused by a number of things, such as the following:

  • Chemical imbalances in the brain can cause depression
  • Hormonal imbalance, such as during pregnancy, can cause depression
  • Depression can also be inherited. Researchers are trying to understand how specific groups of genes can trigger depression
  • Lastly, biological differences in people’s brains can cause depression

Situational depression

Depression can be categorized under two main types, situational and clinical depression. These differ in terms of duration and cause, but both require treatment in order for the person with depression to get better.

Situational depression is a type of depression that is “milder’ and lasts shorter compared to clinical depression. It can be the result of a stressful or traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one or a failed relationship.

In some cases, situational depression can go away over time. But it is still a good idea to seek help if you have trouble handling depression.

Clinical depression

On the other hand, clinical depression lasts longer and has more severe symptoms. Clinical depression is not a diagnosis, per se, but it is usually used to refer to the diagnosis of major depression.

Aside from being a longer-lasting, and severe depression, most of the time, clinical depression requires treatment and medication for the person to get better. This type of depression can even get worse over time, which is why treatment is important.

What are the risk factors for depression?

Out of all you need to know about depression, the risk factors are also important. Knowing the risk factors can help you find out if you might be at risk of developing depression.

Here are some of the risk factors you need to know:

  • Being lonely or isolated from other people or your loved ones can increase the risk of depression.
  • Stressful or traumatic events such as the death of a loved one or a failed relationship is another risk factor
  • Being in an abusive relationship also increases the risk of depression
  • Having a family history of depression can also increase a person’s risk
  • People diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness can also be at risk for depression
  • Certain personality traits, such as being overly critical or being a perfectionist can increase one’s risk of depression
  • People who are victims of abuse are also at risk of having depression


How is depression diagnosed?

Depression affects people in different ways. And the way one person experiences depression can be different from how another person experiences it. Here are some methods that your doctor might use to diagnose depression:

  • A physical exam might be conducted in order to assess your overall health. Certain health problems are known to cause depression, so it would be a good idea to start from there.
  • Another method would be to conduct a complete blood test or CBC in order to check for thyroid problems. Your thyroid produces hormones that are essential to your bodily functions. A problem in your thyroid could be responsible for a hormonal imbalance that can cause depression.
  • A psychiatrist could also conduct a psychiatric evaluation. You will be asked about your symptoms, your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. This helps them diagnose if you have depression.

If your symptoms fit the criteria for depression, then your doctor will be recommending forms of treatment that can help your condition.


When it comes to all you need to know about depression, knowing the available forms of treatment is another important thing to know. Different forms of treatment are available, and they can all have different results from person to person. The trick is finding out which forms of treatment work, and sticking to it.

How is depression treated?

The treatment for depression varies depending on the severity as well as the cause of depression. For the most part, antidepressants, or medication that helps manage depression is prescribed. The dosage and type, however, changes on a case to case basis.

The medication that you have been prescribed can also change depending on how well you are responding to it. It is possible that you might have to try different types of medication before finding one that suits you best. This is mostly the result of the differences in brain chemistry in people.

Psychotherapy can also be used in conjunction with antidepressants to help help someone with depression how to manage their condition better. Therapy can also help people overcome traumatic experiences that might have caused depression, and can help them work through their problems.

Group therapy is also an option for some people. This is particularly helpful for people who have trouble with one-on one-sessions. Having a group of people who understand what you are going through can also help people with depression get better.


How can you prevent depression?

When it comes to prevention, there is really no effective way of prevent depression. However, there are some things that you can do to lower your risk:

  • If you tend to have low self-esteem, take steps to boost your confidence.
  • Stress is a big factor that can cause depression. If you feel stressed all the time, maybe you need to take a break.
  • Talk to your close friends and family. Your friends and family can help you get through difficult times in your life, so be sure to talk to them if you have any problems.
  • Seeking help as early as possible can help prevent depression from getting too worse.
  • If you have been diagnosed with depression, and are afraid of relapsing, there are long-term maintenance treatments available to prevent it from happening.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to all you need to know about depression, it is important to remember that it is a serious but treatable condition. It is important to not be dismissive of depression and mental health in general, but to also recognize that with the right mindset and treatment, depression can be overcome.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD

General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jun 30, 2021

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