What is Depression

What is meant by depression

depressione e tristezza

The term depression is commonly used as a synonym for sadness. Sadness is a physiological emotion that is limited in duration and often linked to unfavorable events.

Depressive disorder, on the other hand, is not a simple temporary discouragement but a condition associated with impaired social relationships and a loss of interest in all aspects that characterize an individual’s existence, including recreational activities.

Major depressive disorder

Depressive disorder manifests in various clinical forms, one of the most severe and common being Major Depressive Disorder. It is estimated that up to 10% of the population may suffer from this disorder over their lifetime, with a frequency twice as high in women if compared to men.

The diagnosis of this condition, according to international classification criteria, requires the continuous presence of symptoms for at least two weeks.

sintomi depressione

What are the main symptoms associated with Major Depression?

The symptoms associated with Major Depression include not only a depressed mood but also increased or decreased appetite, sleep disturbances, decreased sexual desire, cognitive deficits such as decreased memory and attention, excessive feelings of guilt, loss of pleasure in usual leisure activities (anhedonia), psychomotor retardation or fatigue, thoughts of death, and internal tension.

The presence of just one of these disorders does not identify a diagnosis of Major Depression, but at least 5 symptoms must be present, one of which must be mood tone deflection and/or anhedonia.

In some cases, Major Depressive Disorder presents predominantly with somatic symptoms such as decreased energy, lower back pain, or headaches.

Why is depression considered a disorder?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Major Depressive Disorder, besides causing significant mental suffering, deteriorates an individual’s social and work life.

If not properly treated, this condition is associated with a high risk of suicide and substance abuse. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that people with depression exhibit biological changes compared to the general healthy population.

This biological vulnerability translates into a higher risk for depressed individuals of various diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, or autoimmune diseases.

Can depression be cured?

Major Depressive Disorder is a condition with a good response rate to available treatments, especially with early diagnosis.

Currently, for moderate to severe depressive forms, international guidelines indicate treatment with antidepressant medications as the first choice for resolving the acute phase and preventing potential relapses.

Pharmacological treatment can eventually be combined with psychotherapy.

Anyway, a healthy lifestyle, characterized by a balanced diet and regular physical activity, is a factor that can help increase the response to antidepressant treatment and, in general, improve the mental health of patients with depression.

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