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Depression is a disorder that is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals.
It is not a ‘bad mood’, or a case of the ‘blues’.
Patients can’t just ‘snap out of it’. A depressive disorder
affects the body, mood, and thought patterns of the patient. It affects
how a person eats and sleeps, the way they feel about themselves, and
the way they think about their life. Depressive disorders are categorized
to capture the various sets of symptoms and the severity of the disorder.
Major depression interferes with work, study, sleep, and eating habits,
and prevents patients from participating in once pleasurable activities.
Dysthymia is a long-term, chronic disorder that does not disable the patient, but prevents them from functioning at optimum levels. Many Dysthymic patients also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives. Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depression is not nearly as common as other forms of depressive disorders. It is characterized by cycles of mood changes, from very high (mania) to very low (depression). For more information on these three sub-categories of depressive disorders, see the title articles on the related topics.
Depressive disorders can run in families, specifically in those families with a history of bipolar disorder. But not everyone with a hereditary history will suffer from bipolar disorder or depressive disorders in general. There are additional factors, like environment and stress that may affect a person’s predisposition to these disorders. For example, people with low self-esteem, pessimistic people and people who have suffered serious medical conditions like cancer, stroke or heart attack may also be more disposed to depressive disorders.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Depressive Disorders vary with the type of disorder and the severity and frequency of the episodes.
For detailed information on each of the three sub-categories of Depressive Disorders, see the title article for these related disorders. Symptoms can include:
How is it diagnosed and treated?
Doctors will perform a physical exam to rule out other illnesses and disorders, physical and mental. To diagnose a Depressive Disorder, doctors will look for specific symptoms and signs, as described in the detailed articles for each of the sub-categories of Depressive Disorders. Generally, these signs will include at least five of the following, and they must be present nearly every day, throughout the day for at least two weeks. At least one of the signs must include a depressed mood of interesting activities and pleasure.
Treatment is dictated by the specific Depressive Disorder. Treatment(s) can include:
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The Warning Signs Of An Impending Bipolar Disorder Manic Episode
Bipolar disorder - as the name implies - involves two distinct set of symptoms. One set throws the individual down into the depths of a massive depression. The other places the individual who suffers with bipolar disorder at the top of a peak manic episode.
Most everyone can eventually recognize the warning signs of an impending depressive episode related to bipolar disorder. More likely than not, individuals with bipolar disorder try very hard to avoid it.
However, for many individuals with bipolar disorder, it's more difficult to recognize the signs of an impending manic episode. After all, a manic episode of bipolar disorder can be mistaken in some cases - especially in the very early formation -- for the lifting of the corresponding mood swing of the depression.
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