What is Depression?

What is depression a woman asks with her cat graphic
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What is depression a woman asks with her cat graphic

What is Depression?

The World Health Organization estimates that there are approximately 322 million people are currently living with depression – that’s more than 4 percent of the global population. 

"I think the safest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it's like to feel absolutely worthless and they don't want anyone else to feel like that"

What's in this article

What's in this article

What is Depression?

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What are the symptoms of depression?

What are the different types of depression?

What causes depression?

How is depression diagnosed?

Treatments for depression

Depression is the leading cause of disability around the world. 

Depression increased by more than 18% between 2005-2015 and public health experts predict that by the year 2020, depression will rank second in the global burden of disease measured by the number of years lost due to poor health, disability, or early death.

Depression is often referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD) in the research or clinical setting. 

Depression is often characterized by profound sadness, fatigue, altered sleep and appetite, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, and a loss of interest in things that once were enjoyable.

Depression is often accompanied by changes in metabolic, hormonal, immune function, and inflammatory responses

Everyone feels sad or low sometimes, but these feelings typically pass with some time. We know that depression is different. It is an illness that can affect anyone regardless of age, race, income, culture, or education. Research suggests that environment, biology, psychology, and genetics plays a factor in depression

Depression with other diseases


People with depression are at a greater risk of developing numerous chronic diseases, which include cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic pain cognitive decline, and osteoporosis. 

There seems to be a correlation between inflammation and depression, which may be a reason that it occurs with other illnesses linked to inflammation – such as the ones listed. 

Part of the increased risk may be from a decrease in telomere length. 

Telomeres are basically little caps at the end of your genetic material – sort of like the little covers (called aglets) on your sneaker laces. When the aglet breaks, your shoestring will fray into broken strands.

Similarly, when a telomere breaks, your genetic material can start to fray and be subject to getting damaged, which can lead to mental conditions like depression and anxiety and also physical diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Shorter telomeres are also linked to ageing, and diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Findings from multiple studies demonstrate that people with depression have shorter telomeres, which are associated with increased morbidity and mortality

Chronic severe depression that is untreated or accompanied by severe physical complaints are associated with an increased risk of suicide. 

More than half (56-86%)of people who commit or attempt suicide have depression

Growing evidence supports the hypothesis that epigenetics is a key mechanism through which environmental exposures interact with an individual’s genetic constitution to determine risk for depression throughout life.

Numerous adverse medical and/or socially significant events are associated with depression, many of which may have a multigenerational effect due to the genetic and epigenetic influences

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