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Depression: causes, symptoms and prevention

Depression is presented as a set of predominantly affective symptoms (pathological sadness, apathy, anhedonia, hopelessness, dejection, irritability, subjective feeling of discomfort and helplessness in the face of life’s demands) although, to a greater or lesser degree, cognitive, volitional and somatic symptoms are also present, so that we could speak of a global psychic and physical affectation, with special emphasis on the affective sphere.



Depression can begin at any age, although it is most prevalent between 15 and 45 years of age. The symptomatology of the disorder may differ with age: young people show mainly behavioral symptoms, while older adults more frequently have somatic symptoms.




The causes of depression are varied, but biochemistry may help explain some cases. Depressed people show very high levels of cortisol (a hormone) and of several chemical agents acting in the brain, such as the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These levels may be elevated for hereditary reasons. Explanations given for the familial origin of depression are that children receive a sad view of the world from their parents’ behavior, or grow up in an environment that is not totally enriching.





Typically, “depression is characterized by prolonged periods, longer than two weeks of low mood and apathy, but presents a wide variety of symptoms such as:

  • Affective: sadness, anxiety, irritability, inability to enjoy, suicidal thoughts, hopelessness or guilt.
  • Cognitive: indecisiveness, forgetfulness or loss of concentration.
  • Somatic: fatigue, changes in appetite or weight, insomnia, hypersomnia, sexual dysfunction, headache, stomach problems, chest pain, agitation.




Apart from psychotherapeutic treatment, it is important, once it has taken effect and you feel that you have improved your condition, you should follow certain tips:

  • To think positive thoughts.
  • Take care of your physical health.
  • Maintain a consistent daily schedule.
  • Resume responsibilities slowly and gradually.
  • Accepting yourself. Do not compare yourself with other people that you consider favored.
  • Express your emotions.
  • To follow at all times and until the end the imposed treatment.
  • To meet periodically with the therapist.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • To do physical exercise.



According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects some 121 million people in the world, of whom less than 25% have access to effective treatments, and warns that one in five people will develop a depressive condition in their lifetime; this number will increase if other factors such as comorbidity or stressful situations concur.



Dr. Mansi Shah

Functional Wellness Network

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