Answers FAQ

Depression FAQs

Reviewed by Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

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Q:Depression is identified by a sad and/or irritable mood exceeding normal sadness or grief. True or False?

A:True.

Depressive illnesses, commonly called clinical depression, are characterized by sadness and/or irritability that lasts longer, is associated with a number of other symptoms, and interferes with the sufferer's ability to function in some way compared to normal sadness or grief.

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Q:Depression usually results in high libido. True or False?

A:False.

The symptoms that are associated with depression include frequent crying, irritability, hopelessness, low energy, social isolation, problems with appetite and sleep, as well as a lack of interest in usually pleasurable activities, including sex.

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Q:What is the term for less severe symptoms that precede the more debilitating symptoms?

A:Warning signs.

Warning signs are symptoms that may not be seen as abnormal but can indicate that more severe symptoms will develop.

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Q:What percent of adults experience depression?

A:About 10% of adults experience some kind of depressive disorder.

This translates into millions of affected people. Women are diagnosed with depression more than men, and symptoms of depression may differ somewhat based on gender and ethnic background.

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Q:Depression can increase the risks for developing HIV, asthma, and coronary artery disease. True or False?

A:True.

Depression puts people at risk for a number of medical problems, including diabetes, asthma, HIV, and cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure. It also increases morbidity (sickness) and mortality rates.

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Q:Panic disorder is a type of depressive disorder. True or False?

A:False.

Types of depressive illness include major depression, dysthymia, as well as the depression associated with bipolar disorder. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder.

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Q:What are possible causes of depression?

A:While there is no single direct cause of depression, this illness is thought to be the result of a combination of biological, psychological, and/or social risk factors.

Since this illness has been found to run in families, genetics is understood to play a role. Other risk factors include illnesses like heart disease and diabetes and medications like those that are used to treat high blood pressure.

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Q:Children of depressed mothers are at higher risk for developing depression. True or False?

A:True.

Studies show that mothers who are depressed during pregnancy tend to produce a number of stress-related hormones and other chemicals. In addition to a potential genetic risk, those chemicals put the children of depressed mothers at higher risk for developing depression.

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Q:Lab tests, blood tests, and X-rays can diagnose mental disorders. True or False?

A:False.

There is no specific laboratory test, blood test, or X-ray that can diagnose a mental disorder. That makes the doctor's performance of a complete physical and mental-health evaluation all the more important to identifying the possible presence of clinical depression. The health-care professional will gather a complete history of the sufferer's symptoms and may use screening tools or questionnaires as part of their assessment.

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Q:What treatments are used to manage depression?

A:The most common group of medications used to treat moderate to severe depression is the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor group. This medication increases the activity of serotonin in the brain, which is thought to be low in people with depression. Examples of SSRIs include Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Celexa (citalopram), and Lexapro (escitalopram).

Mild forms of depression may be treated by psychotherapy alone. However, when symptoms of depression include a number of physical signs, significantly impair the person's ability to function, or results in the sufferer wanting, planning, or attempting to harm oneself or someone else, medication in addition to psychotherapy becomes an important part of treatment. For people with severe depression that persists despite intensive psychotherapy and trials of multiple antidepressant medications, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which involves inducing seizures while the person is sedated, should be considered.

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Q:Depression in the elderly has a low rate of recovery. True or False?

A:True.

There are a number of reasons that depression in the elderly has a low rate of recovery, including that this age group tends to be underdiagnosed, have low access to treatment, and the effectiveness of antidepressant medications is often limited in elderly individuals because of their susceptibility to medication side effects.

Depression tends to occur in one out of four women, one out of six men, and at a rate of about 2% during childhood prior to the teenage years. Symptoms of depression may include a subjective feeling of sadness or irritability, both in individuals with unipolar or bipolar depression.

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Q:What are medications that are used to treat depression?

A:Lithobid (lithium), Depakote (valproate), Tegretol (carbamazepine), Neurontin (gabapentin), and Lamictal (lamotrigine) are antiseizure medications that can also address the depression associated with bipolar disorder by stabilizing mood. Specifically, they can even out both manic and depressive symptoms in people with bipolar disorder. In addition to potentially stabilizing mood, antipsychotic medications like Geodon (ziprasidone), Risperdal (risperidone), Seroquel (quetiapine), Abilify (aripiprazole), Invega (paliperidone) and Latuda (lurasidone) can boost the effect of antidepressant medications.

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Q:What are some side effects of SSRI antidepressants?

A:SSRIs can potentially decrease the libido, cause genital numbness, delay or prevent ejaculation, inhibit orgasm (produce anorgasmia), or produce a pleasureless orgasm.

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Q:After one major depressive episode, a person has a 50% chance of a second episode. True or False?

A:True.

If a person suffers one major depressive episode, he or she has a 50% chance of a second episode.

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