Depression, also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a common and serious mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. It can affect a person's thoughts, emotions, behavior, and overall physical health, leading to a range of symptoms that may include changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and thoughts of death or suicide.

The exact cause of depression is not fully understood, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which play a role in regulating mood, are thought to be involved in the development of depression.

Treatment for depression typically involves a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications. Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), are commonly prescribed to help regulate mood. Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy, can help individuals develop coping strategies and change negative thought patterns. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques may also contribute to improved mental health and well-being.


The signs and symptoms of depression can vary among individuals but may include:

Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness

Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed

Changes in appetite or weight

Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or excessive sleeping

Fatigue or lack of energy

Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering information

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness

Irritability or restlessness

Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive issues, or pain without a clear cause
Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression is diagnosed based on a thorough clinical evaluation by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or clinical social worker. This evaluation typically involves a discussion of the individual's symptoms, medical history, and personal or family history of mental health issues. The clinician may use standardized questionnaires or rating scales to help assess the severity of the symptoms and determine whether they meet the diagnostic criteria for depression as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Risk factors for depression can be genetic, biological, environmental, or psychological and may include:

Family history of depression or other mental health disorders

Personal history of mental health issues or other chronic medical conditions

Exposure to trauma, abuse, or neglect, particularly during childhood

Chronic stress or significant life changes, such as job loss, divorce, or the death of a loved one
Certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem, pessimism, or dependence

Substance abuse, including alcohol or drug use