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What is a Depressive Disorder?

A depressive disorder is a mood disorder that results in feelings of sadness or irritability and is associated with a general loss of interest or pleasure in most activities. It frequently affects eating and sleeping patterns, self-esteem, and one’s outlook on life. A depressive disorder goes beyond short periods of sadness or feeling “blue”, is not a sign of personal weakness, and is not a condition that can be willed or wished away. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. However, with appropriate treatment, most people who suffer from depressive disorders can be helped.

Types of Depression

Major depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms (see symptom list) that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime. Major depressive episodes can easily be distinguished from the person’s usual functioning.

Dysthymia is a less severe type of depression that involves long-term, chronic symptoms that have been present for many years. Typically, the symptoms associated with dysthymia are not as debilitating as major depression but can keep one from functioning well or feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience one or more major depressive episodes at some point in their lives.

Other Useful Links regarding Depression

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