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Depression and Mood Disorders

Including Major Depression, Bipolar Depression, and more

Major depression is one of the most common but serious mental disorders in the United States. For some individuals, major depression can be experienced at some point in their lives. For others, it can result in an episode severe enough to interfere with daily life activities and to require treatment. Read more on the prevalence of adult and adolescent depression.

Unfortunately, major depression too often goes untreated, even with the availability of evidence-based treatments known to be effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms. Depression is costly to individuals and society as a whole, both in terms of quality of life and economically. 

More than feeling low, depression is a state of persistent and deep sadness or emptiness, often resulting in feeling hopeless, worthless and restless. It can be accompanied by sleep problems, changes in appetite and trouble concentrating. It can also lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. 

Although it is not certain what causes depression, much is known. As with many mood disorders, a variety of factors may be involved, including:

Life events: Depression may be triggered by negative life events—death, break-up/ divorce, financial or career setback—or even positive ones, like a wedding or a job relocation. Other factors include having trouble:

          • Forming and keeping social relationships 
          • Keeping everyday life in line with personal values 

Thinking patterns: Depression may be related to faulty thinking patterns, such as: 

          • Magnifying how terribly things are going
          • Drawing negative conclusions from life events in the face of good sense
          • Having a negative view of oneself, the world and the future 

Biochemical imbalances: Biological predispositions to depression may be triggered by negative life events or may contribute to forming negative cognitive patterns of evaluating oneself and one’s life events. Biological symptoms may result from this imbalance.

Biological differences: People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains—the significance, still uncertain, may eventually help pinpoint causes.

Brain chemistry: Changes in neurotransmitters (naturally occurring brain chemicals) and their interaction with neurocircuits (which help maintain mood stability) may help in understanding and treating depression.

Hormone changes: Resulting from pregnancy and the postpartum period, thyroid problems or menopause, hormonal changes may help cause or trigger depression.

Inherited traits: Researchers are trying to find genes involved in causing depression, known to be more common when blood relatives have the condition.

Types of Depression Treated at CFI

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) or clinical depression: Episodes of major depression, separated by at least two months, with severe symptoms affecting how one feels, thinks and handles daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, attending school or working

Bipolar Depression: Differing from clinical depression and requiring different treatment yet meeting the criteria for major depression

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), formerly called dysthymia disorder: MDD episodes lasting for at least two years, along with periods of less severe symptoms

Postpartum Depression: Severe, long-lasting depression, both during pregnancy and after delivery, making it difficult for new mothers to care for themselves and/or their babies.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Characterized by the onset of depression during winter months with less natural sunlight and often accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep and weight gain

Psychotic Depression: Individuals with some form of psychosis also experiencing severe depression 

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