Is Depression a Biological Disease?

Is Depression a Biological Disease?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression interferes with daily life and hurts both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression annually affects 5-8 percent of adults in the US, which means that approximately 25 million Americans develop major depression each year. Depression occurs 70 percent more frequently in women than in men. Without treatment, the frequency and the severity of symptoms tend to increase over time.

Causes of Depression

Depression devastates a person’s physical, mental, psychological, emotional and physiological health. There is no single cause of depression, but the following issues certainly contribute to the problem:

  • Experiences, particularly traumatic ones
  • Genetic inheritance, or having family members with the disease
  • Employment status
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Marital status
  • Financial standing
  • Brain chemistry imbalance
  • Hormone changes
  • Substance use
  • Illness

Depression easily comes from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression presents the following symptoms:

  • Persistent sadness, anxiety or emptiness
  • Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
  • Feeling guilty, worthless or helpless
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment, but this is a mistake.

How People React to Depression

According to the Mayo Clinic, depression can result in emotional, behavioral and health problems that affect every area of your life. Depression can cause the following issues:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Substance abuse
  • Anxiety
  • Work or school problems
  • Family conflicts
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Social isolation
  • Suicide
  • Self-mutilation, such as cutting
  • Premature death from other medical conditions

Depression requires treatment, so if someone avoids this treatment then she may behave in ways that are harmful and destructive.

Treatment for Depression

The longer someone avoids treatment, the greater the impact and the longer treatment may take. People with depression need psychotherapy to treat the disorder’s causes and symptoms. Patients should also seek the other following treatment methods:

  • Be active and exercise
  • Pay attention to warning signs
  • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Try mind-body connection strategies such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, guided imagery and massage therapy
  • Set realistic goals for yourself
  • Spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative
  • Postpone important decisions
  • Positive thinking to replace negative thoughts
  • Educate yourself about depression

Most people with depression respond well to formal treatment and lifestyle changes.