standard-title Depression Depression, also known as major depression, clinical depression or major depressive disorder is a medical illness that causes a constant feeling of sadness and lack of interest. Depression affects how the person feels, behaves and thinks.


Depression, also known as major depression, clinical depression or major depressive disorder is a medical illness that causes a constant feeling of sadness and lack of interest. Depression affects how the person feels, behaves and thinks.

Depression can lead to emotional and physical problems. Typically, people with depression find it hard to go about their day-to-day activities, and may also feel that life is not worth living. sad

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What is Depression?

Feeling sad, or what we may call “depressed”, happens to all of us. The sensation usually passes after a while. However, people with a depressive disorder – clinical depression – find that their state interferes with daily life. Abraham Lincoln O-60 by Brady, 1862 Abraham Lincoln suffered from “melancholy”, known today as clinical depression.

For people with clinical depression, their normal functioning is undermined to such an extent that both they and those who care about them are affected by it.

Hippocrates, known as the father of Western medicine, described a syndrome of “melancholia”. He said melancholia was a distinct disease with specific physical and mental symptoms. Hippocrates characterized it as “(all) fears and despondencies if they last a long time” as being symptomatic of the illness.

According to the National Institutes of Health, a significant percentage of people with a depressive illness never seek medical help. This is unfortunate because the vast majority, even those with very severe symptoms, can improve with treatment.

Depression FAQ's

A depressive disorder is a medical illness that causes a constant feeling of sadness and lack of interest.

The notion that  depression is simply a “chemical imbalance” in the brain has given way to evidence that the disorder is associated with

  • Neuroinflammation
  • Disrupted neuroplasticity
  • Glutamate as well as NE and 5HT receptors
  • Cortical and subcortical changes
  • Transition from pure pharmacology to neuromodulation (rTMS) that enhances hippocampal neurogenesis.

In short depression is truly a Brain Disease and its treatment should be multimodal to better allow those suffering from it to have their wellness restored, quality of life restored and functional capacity be fully realized. At The TMS Center of Southwest Florida we TMS as our primary treatment in treating the “Brain” illnesses our patients are suffering from.

Depression is not uniform. Signs and symptoms may be experienced by some sufferers and not by others. How severe the symptoms are, and how long they last depend on the individual person and his illness. Below is a list of the most common symptoms:

  • A constant feeling of sadness, anxiety, and emptiness
  • A general feeling of pessimism sets in (the glass is always half empty)
  • The person feels hopeless
  • Individuals can feel restless
  • The sufferer may experience irritability
  • Patients may lose interest in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed
  • He/she may lose interest in sex
  • Levels of energy feel lower, fatigue sets in
  • Many people with a depressive illness find it hard to concentrate, remember details, and make decisions
  • Sleep patterns are disturbed – the person may sleep too little or too much
  • Eating habits may change – he/she may either eat too much or have no appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts may occur – some may act on those thoughts
  • The sufferer may complain more of aches and pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems. These problems do not get better with treatment.

There are several forms of depression (depressive disorders). Major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder are the most common.

Major depressive disorder (major depression)
Major depressive disorder is also known as major depression. The patients suffer from a combination of symptoms that undermine their ability to sleep, study, work, eat, and enjoy activities they used to find pleasurable.

Experts say that major depressive disorder can be very disabling, preventing the patient from functioning normally. Some people experience only one episode while others have recurrences.

Dysthymic disorder (dysthymia)
Dysthymic disorder is also known as dysthymia or mild chronic depression. The patient will suffer symptoms for a long time, perhaps as long as a couple of years, and often longer. The symptoms are not as severe as in major depression – they do not disable the patient. However, people affected with dysthymic disorder may find it hard to function normally and feel well.

Some people experience only one episode during their lifetime while others may have recurrences.

Psychotic depression
When severe depressive illness includes hallucinations, delusions, and/or withdrawing from reality, the patient may be diagnosed with psychotic depression. Psychotic depression is also referred to as delusional depression.

Postpartum depression (postnatal depression)
Postpartum depression is also known as postnatal depression or PND. This is not to be confused with ‘baby blues’ which a mother may feel for a very short period after giving birth.

If a mother develops a major depressive episode within a few weeks of giving birth it is most likely she has developed postpartum depression.

Perinatal Depression

Perinatal depression, defined as depression in pregnancy, around childbirth or within the first year post‐partum, is a significant problem in households around the world and often occurs comorbidly with other medical or mental health illnesses (for example, pain conditions or anxiety) affecting all members of the family while too often escaping detection and treatment.

SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
SAD is much more common the further from the equator you go, where the end of summer means the beginning of less sunlight and more dark hours. A person who develops a depressive illness during the winter months might have SAD.

Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)
Bipolar disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness. It used to be known as manic depression. It is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. A patient with bipolar disorder experiences moments of extreme highs and extreme lows. These extremes are known as manias.

Nobody is sure what causes depression. Experts say depression is caused by a combination of factors, such as the person’s genes, their biochemical environment, personal experience and psychological factors.

A study published in Archives of Psychiatry found that MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans showed patients with clinical depression had less brain volume in several regions, including the frontal lobe, basal ganglia, and hippocampus. They also found that after treatment the hippocampus returned to normal size.

The Stanford School of Medicine says that genes do play a role in causing depression. By studying cases of major depression among identical twins (whose genes are 100% identical) and non-identical twins (whose genes are 50% identical) they found that heritability is a major contributory factor in the risk of developing depression.

An article in Harvard Health Publications explains that depression is not caused simply by the level of one chemical being too low and another too high. Rather, several different chemicals are involved, working both within and outside nerve cells. There are “Millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.”

An awful experience can trigger a depressive illness. For example, the loss of a family member, a difficult relationship, physical sexual abuse.

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