When we talk about depression in colloquial language, we generally refer to a sad mood, for a transitional period and due to some adverse circumstance. But depression is much more, it´s a disease not only with emotional or “mental” symptoms but also affecting body and mind.

Since ancient times, we know of examples of depression. The Old Testament tells us the story of King Saul, depicting a depressive syndrome. Homer’s Iliad also refers to depression in the story of the suicide of Ajax. However, it is in our time when the term became popular and socially accepted.

Depression is a common disease nowadays. About one in three people throughout their lives will suffer some kind of affective disorder. Two out of three people will be women. The average age of a depressive illness is 40. 50% of cases begin between the age of 20 and 50.

If we ask about the causes of depression, we need to talk of genetic, biological and psychosocial factors. Often we will be unable to offer the patient the answer they wish to hear, and we will have an etiological approach, that is, examining the causes of the disease.

The main symptoms of depression are sadness, anhedonia (loss of interest and inability to enjoy), low self-esteem, apathy, lack of hope, lack of motivation and initiative, disturbed sleep and appetite, easy fatigue, concentration problems and memory, and psychomotor retardation. Usually anxious and physical symptoms -muscle aches, constipation or diarrhoea, headaches, chest tightness, fatigue – can occur. Sometimes thoughts of death and suicide may appear in moderate or severe depressions.

Your GP may diagnose it, although there are many patients who live with this disease and do not know they have it. This usually occurs because it is, wrongly, understood that if there is any conflict or external problem, it should be “logical” to have these symptoms. Depression is a medical illness that causes significant reduction in the patient’s daily operation. Therefore, in the presence of the above symptoms, you should see a doctor.

If the disease is diagnosed, drug therapy is indicated. Among the citizens there are many fears against depression, beliefs that do not correspond with reality. These concerns must be exposed to receive accurate information. Nowadays, we have modern drugs with low undesirable effects, which allow patients to have a better life. Psychotherapy is another therapeutic tool to use. However, we advise using techniques recognised in this field and performed by competent professionals with clear objectives.

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