Health Education-Mrs. Stec


About 1 in 10 Americans suffer some form of depression, which is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general. When these feelings last for a short period of time, it may be a case of "the blues." (

The onset of depression can begin at an early age, and depression is very common with young adults. Females are more likely to be diagnosed in their teen year, due to hormones. It doesn't stop there though, women will continue to have a higher rate as they age, but we still don't know the reason behind this.

Types of Depression

Major depressive disorder—also called major depression. The symptoms of major depression are disabling and interfere with everyday activities such as studying, eating, and sleeping. People with this disorder may have only one episode of major depression in their lifetimes.

Dysthymic disorder—also called dysthymia. Dysthymia ismild, chronic depression.The symptoms of dysthymia last for a long time—2 years or more. Dysthymia is less severe than major depression.

Minor depression—similar to major depression anddysthymia. Symptoms of minor depression are less severe and/or are usually shorter term. Without treat- ment, however, people with minor depression are at high risk for developing major depressive disorder.

Seasonal affective disorder—depression that begins during the winter months and lifts during spring and summer.


In order to be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must persist most of the day for two weeks or more. Symptoms of depression in adolescents include the following:

  • A persistent feeling of being down in the dumps, depressed, or sad
  • Feeling anxious, tense, uneasy or unable to relax
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite or eating too much; weight loss or weight gain
  • Frequent crying
  • Lack of interest in things your normally enjoy
  • Low self esteem
  • Frequent thoughts of suicide

Some of these symptoms may be evident during the normal mood swings that almost all adolescents experience from time to time. It is difficult to distinguish these short-lived moods from depression. Depression is usually present when symptoms last at least two weeks and multiple individuals have noticed.

Causes of Depression

There are several reasons that can trigger depression, but the exact reason can't always be determined. A variety of factors can include the following...

  • Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains.
  • Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals. When these chemicals are out of balance, it may be associated with depressive symptoms.
  • Hormones. Changes in the body's balance of hormones. Example
  • Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose biological relatives also have this condition. Research is on going to determine a gene that may be involved.
  • Life events. Traumatic events such as the death or loss of a loved one, financial problems, high stress, or childhood trauma can trigger depression in some people.

Treatment for Depression

There are multiple ways to treat depression, but first we need to have a doctor diagnose it. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is.

The most effective approach is a combination of counseling and medication.

Counseling can help teach the individual coping skills, stress-management techniques, and beings to start developing a positive outlook on life.

Medication, or antidepressants, work to attack the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) to get them back to "normal". In 2003, the FDA issued a warning about an increase of suicide for adolescents taking antidepressants. By 2006, the FDA extended this warning to people who are 25 and under.

Herbal supplements are also used a treatment. St. John' Wort has been used to alleviated mild depression, but like other herbal supplements, they are not FDA approved.

Physical Activity can also play a role in alleviating depression. Endorphines effect the brain and hormone levels.

Famous icons that have dealt with depression

When we think of famous people or wealthy individuals, we think that they have it all and they can't be sad.

Well, we now all know that is not true, think about the recently funny guy, Robin Williams. He suffered from a lifelong battle of depression and ended his life.