Is depression a disease? It’s a tricky question. The difference between disease, disorder, and illness is sometimes difficult to find. According to some, it can definitely be classified as a disease. Others who take a more purist approach might argue that the American Psychiatric Association refers to depression only as a disorder and an illness.
The standard definition of disease is “a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.” If we follow this definition, we can definitely consider depression a disease.
What Is Depression?
Depression is also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder. It is a medical condition that is debilitating and greatly affects the way you feel, think, and behaves. Depression brings on intense feelings of sadness and makes you withdraw from things you used to enjoy. This can put a great strain on your personal and professional lives.
The symptoms of depression can include the following:
- Feelings of sadness
- Depressed mood
- Lack of interest in hobbies you used to enjoy
- Changes in appetite (eating too little or too much)
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too little or too much)
- Lack of energy
- Slowed movement and speech
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble making decisions
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Sadness vs. Depression
Several things in everyday life can lead a person to feel sad or melancholy. Common examples of these events include the loss of a loved one, natural disasters, or stressful changes at work.
Make no mistake, even intense sadness is normal when experienced from time to time. Per the American Psychological Association, the sadness you experience in everyday life is different from depression in several aspects:
- If you are experiencing grief, these feelings tend to come in waves and are intermixed with positive memories of the deceased. If what you are experiencing is depression, the overall mood is decreased for a period of most of two weeks.
- During periods of grief, self-esteem is typically maintained. However, during periods of depression, your self-esteem is brought down by feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing.
Depression is like other mental health disorders – it is a complex mix of both biological and environmental factors rather than the result of a single cause. Factors like temperament, life experiences, and family history of mental health conditions can increase your likelihood of developing depression.
- Family history
- Early childhood trauma
- Brain structure
- Medical history
- Drug abuse
- Stressful events
Without treatment, depression may only get worse with time. There is no shame in seeking treatment for this condition, and fortunately, the future of depression treatment looks brighter now than ever before.
Traditional treatments, like antidepressants, and innovative new techniques, like ketamine infusion therapy, both present options for treatment and relief from your symptoms.
Contact us today to learn more about our innovative new treatment options available.