Major Depressive Disorder

By: Ellie Madigan

What is depression?

What is depression? - Helen M. Farrell
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.

The Body Systems Affected

Depression affects all of your body; this is because it affects your brain and your brain is what controls all the other systems in your body. Depression is based in the brain so if a patient has depression they will have a smaller frontal cortex and hippocampus. Depression can also lead to more medical complications.

How It Affects The Body

You Have Depression

- you feel sad consistently for at least 2 weeks at a time

-you have thoughts of suicide and self harm

- but unlike somebody who doesn't have depression you can't just expect yourself to get over it and you can't make yourself get over it

You Don't Have Depression

- you feel sad from time to time but it isn't consistent and it eventually goes away pretty quickly sometimes to

- you can expect yourself to get over it and make yourself get over it

Who Does It Affect?

Depression can affect anyone no matter their race or gender. Women are more likely to have depression because of a helpless feeling pressed upon them by society. Men are also less like to seek help with depression than women are so this affects the statistics. Gender roles in society play a big role in whether a depressed individual seeks help. Close to 10% of adults struggle with depression.

How Does Depression Start?

Depression is a genetic disorder, but can also be triggered by an accident or trauma; this can occur at any point in your life, although for most people it starts in their teens, 20's or 30's. Depression can also be triggered by an environmental issue, like if you have a bad home life. It can also start if you are gay, transgender, lesbian, or bisexual in an unsupportive environment.


A patient with depression will have a smaller hippocampus and frontal lobe. Doctors will also use the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders. They will also look at if your serotonin, dopamine and nopreprinephine neural-transmitters have an abnormal transmission, or if you have hormone abnormalities.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms that help doctors diagnose patients with depression are:

  • different sleeping and eating habits
  • loss of initiative, self-punishment
  • withdrawal and inactivity
  • thoughts of suicide
  • loss of pleasure in things you use to find pleasure in
  • irritability and angry out bursts even over the smallest matter
  • slow thinking, speaking, and body movements
  • unexplained physical problems
  • fixating on the past and blaming oneself for something that wasn't their fault
  • anxiety or restlessness
  • trouble thinking or concentrating


There are a lot of different treatment options and everybody responds differently to different treatments.

  • physical activity and exercise

  • psychotherapy: cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy

  • ECT: Electroconvulsive Therapy (this is affective for those who did not respond to drug therapy)

  • anti-depressants

  • Trans-Cranial Magnetic Stimulation


Individuals with depression are more likely to have a shorter lifespan because of medical complications that depression can cause. Also a shorter lifespan is connected to the fact that 15% of the individuals suffering with depression will end up committing suicide at some point in their life.

Personal Connection

My grandmother has this condition and I wanted to know what it was like to live with depression. There are also several famous celebrities who have this disease, for example: Nicki Minaj, Ellen DeGeneres, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Robin Williams.


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