Depression - overview
Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods.
Clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or more.
Blues; Gloom; Sadness; Melancholy
Depression can occur in people of all ages:
Symptoms of depression include:
Remember that children may have different symptoms than adults. Watch for changes in schoolwork, sleep, and behavior. If you wonder whether your child might be depressed, talk with your health care provider. Your provider can help you learn how to help your child with depression.
The main types of depression include:
Other common forms of depression include:
Bipolar disorder occurs when depression alternates with mania (formerly called manic depression). Bipolar disorder has depression as one of its symptoms, but it is a different type of mental illness.
Depression often runs in families. This may be due to your genes, behaviors you learn at home, or your environment. Depression may be triggered by stressful or unhappy life events. Often, it is a combination of these things.
Many factors can bring on depression, including:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call 911, a suicide hotline, or go to a nearby emergency room if you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
Call your provider if:
You should also call your provider if:
American Psychiatric Association. Depressive disorders. In: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013:155-188.
Fava M, Østergaard SD, Cassano P. Mood disorders: depressive disorders (major depressive disorder). In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 29.
Kraus C, Kadriu B, Lanzenberger R, Zarate Jr CA, Kasper S. Prognosis and improved outcomes in major depression: a review. Transl Psychiatry. 2019;9(1):127. PMID: 30944309 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30944309.
Walter HJ, DeMaso DR. Mood disorders. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 39.
Zuckerbrot RA, Cheung A, Jensen PS, Stein REK, Laraque D; GLAD-PC STEERING GROUP. Guidelines for adolescent depression in primary care (GLAD-PC): part I. Practice preparation, identification, assessment, and initial management. Pediatrics. 2018;141(3). pii: e20174081. PMID: 29483200 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29483200.
Review Date: 5/5/2018
Reviewed By: Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Internal review and update on 04/15/2019 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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