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What is Depression?

Depression is a common mood disorder that impacts approximately 17.3 million American adults. Those who suffer from depression feel prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities. Depression also impacts an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. The DSM-5 lists 8 symptoms that fit into the criteria. The criteria allow for a psychiatrist to diagnose an individual with depression. An individual must experience five or more of the symptoms listed below over the same two-week period.

1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.

2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.

3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.

4. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).

5. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.

6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.

7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.

8. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

3 Myths Debunked

depression is not a real condition
Over the years, many people have argued that depression is not a real medical condition but, rather, a feeling. As outlined above, depression is in the DSM-5 as a Mental Health diagnosis. By reading through the symptoms outlined above, it’s evident that an individual that meets the criteria of depression are impact on both a mental and physical level. There are many studies that have linked depression to biological, environmental, and psychological risk factors. Many other studies support that depression is more than a feeling of sadness or self-pity, it’s a condition that effects the entire physical body mentally and physically.
depression feels the same for everyone
Despite popular belief, depression does not feel the same for everyone. Everyone’s body is different which means many biological changes to the brain can impact how one experiences depression. For example, hormonal changes can influence the severity of their moods, thoughts, and physical displays of depression. Also, it’s a misconception that to have depression, one must appear to have depression. Again, the way one’s body experiences depression on a biological level can influence how depression looks outwardly to others.
child with a psychiatric disorder is damaged for life
When thinking of children in foster care, often the fear many prospective foster/adoptive parents have is that a child with a traumatic background will be damaged for life. While it can be difficult, there is hope in assisting a child that has been impacted by trauma. Often, when the child’s symptoms are recognized early, they have the opportunity to be treated and prevent any symptoms from developing into adulthood.

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