What is Depression Disorder

According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated one in ten people suffer from Depression. A recent article by the World Health Organization noted that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, citing 350 million people who suffer from the disorder each year. In the U.S. alone, about 7% of all adults over the age of 18 reported experiencing depression in the preceding year.

A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry indicated that the misdiagnosis of depression is widespread and that even psychiatrists get the diagnosis right less than half the time. In other words, about 60% of depressed patients received an incorrect diagnosis before receiving the correct diagnosis. Furthermore, depression is often confused with bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and physical ailments such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Common Symptoms

People who suffer from Depression generally have symptoms that include any number of the following:

However, it is important to note that different types of Depression vary from person to person, which makes a proper diagnosis without the use of brain imaging very difficult.

  • Persistent sadness

  • Anxious or “empty” feelings

  • Feelings of guilt or shame

  • Fatigue or decreased energy

  • Changes in sleep and/or appetite

  • Weight loss or weight gain

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Impacted Areas of the Brain

Depression can result is an overall decrease in blood flow to the cortex, particularly the frontal lobe. With overall reduced functionality, the brain can become easily and quickly fatigued, making it challenging to stay motivated and engaged. In certain cases, depression has also been linked to increased activity in the thalamus. The thalamus is a substructure of the basal ganglia, and it linked to motivation, personality and mood. An overactive thalamus may result in feelings of hopelessness, persistent sadness and suicidal thinking.

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