Depression is a psychiatric disorder characterized by feelings of worthlessness, guilt, sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness. It is different then normal sadness or grief from the loss of a loved one because it is persistent and severe. Clinical depression has many related symptoms trouble sleeping, eating disorders, withdrawal and inactivity, self-punishment, and loss of pleasure. People that are depressed do not like to do things they may usually like to.

Surveys that have been taken that show approximately 20 in 100 people suffer from depression at any one time. About one if four Americans will suffer from a depression over the course of their lifetime. Depression strikes men and women of all ages, in all races, but most studies indicate that women are more often afflicted.

There are two major forms of depression that people get. One form is called depressive disorder. It is diagnosed only by episodes of depression. Episodes can be short or long but are usually brought about by an incident in a persons life. An example of this is if someone close to them dies. The other kind is called bipolar or manic depressive illness, it is recognized by alternating depressed and manic episodes. This is an actual brain dysfunction. In the major depression or the depressed phase of bipolar illness, a depressed mood predominates, even though the patient may not be aware of feeling sad. Typically, he or she loses all interest in activities. Symptoms include sleep disturbances, not able to concentrate or to make decisions, loss of appetite or greatly increased appetite, slowed thinking and decreased energy feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, diminished sexual interest, and recurrent thoughts of suicide and death, sometimes leading a person to actually committing suicide. In the manic phase of bipolar disorder the patients behavior is bizarre and sometimes obnoxious. Symptoms of this are the person being hyper and have lots of energy, they talk a lot, racing thoughts, and a decreased need for sleep. In this stage it is very hard to recognize. Both depressive and bipolar disorders run in families. Meaning if your father or mother had it you have a high chance of getting it yourself. Most people who are depressed are women. They may be biologically induced depression. Meaning that there is a lack of or too much of a chemical or protein. Or it may be that women learn social roles that favor feelings of helplessness. Because women in trouble are more likely to seek professional assistance than men, statistics report that more people who are depressed are mostly women.

The depressive disorders are among the most treatable in psychiatry. The usual treatment in modern practice involves administration of a drug plus supportive psychotherapy. Basically going to a psychiatrist and talking to them. The two major drugs that are used to treat depressive disorders are tricyclic/tetracyclic antidepressants and the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. The last one requires the patient to follow a special diet because the drugs react to tryamine. Tryamine is found in cheeses, beer, wine, chicken livers, and other foods, and causes higher blood pressure. The tricyclic antidepressants require no special diet. Lithium carbonate is a common mineral that is used to control the manic phase of manic-depressive illness. In small doses it is also used to regulate the mood fluctuations of this bipolar disorder. I also found a little amount on something called electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is considered most effective for depressions that do not respond to drug therapy. ECT is not widely used and is very controversial. It brings rapid relief from severe depression and can often prevent suicide. But it did not tell me how it works.