What is Unipolar Depression?

"Depression is a treatable illness involving an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. It is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness. You canít make yourself well by trying to "snap out of it." Although it can run in families, you canít catch it from someone else. The direct causes of the illness are unclear, however it is known that body chemistry can bring on a depressive disorder, due to experiencing a traumatic event, hormonal changes, altered health habits, the presence of another illness or substance abuse." (http://www.dbsalliance.org/info/depression.html)

Depression comes in a number of forms. The focus of this website is on unipolar depression, as the medication for bipolar disorder (and causes thereof) are drastically different.

Unipolar Depression (Major Depressive Disorder)
"Depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities most of the day and nearly every day for at least two weeks, accompanied by at least for of the following symptoms:
  • constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension
  • decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies
  • loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity
  • a change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
  • a change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  • restlessness or feeling slowed down
  • decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
  • feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, suicidal ideation, or suicidal plan or attempt
Click here to scroll through other types of depression
(on to Dysthymia)

As we learn more about depression, science has focused closer attention on the biological causes. This, as well as the myriad studies conducted since the 1950s has changed the core focus of treatment from psychological (in the form of psychotherapy among other types of treatments) to pharmacology.

How Common is Unipolar Depression?

  • Depression is the most common of mental disorders, with roughly 5 to 10% suffering from severe unipolar depression each year (this statistic is known as a 'point prevalence'), and about 17% of adults experiencing some form of depression at some point in their lives.
  • This rate of severity is stable across countries and socioeconomic classes (SES).
  • The rate of unipolar depression is about double in women than in men.
  • Approximately half of people with unipolar depression recover within six weeks and almost 90% with treatment.

    What are the Symptoms of Depression?

    Behavioral Symptoms:

    • less active and less productive.
    • tend to spend more time alone.
    • some may move or speak more slowly.
    Motivational symptoms
    • lose desire to pursue usual activities.
    • report lack of drive, initiative, and spontaneity.
    Emotional Symptoms
    • feelings of sadness and lowered spirits.
    • report getting little pleasure out of things they once enjoyed.
    • loss of sense of humor.
    • anxiety, anger, agitation
    • may experience crying spells.
    Cognitive symptoms
    • hold extremely negative views of themselves.
    • consider themselves to be "inadequate, undesirable, inferior"
    • maintain negative realism"