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Is Depression a Mental Illness?

In order to figure out if depression truly is a mental illness, depression needs to be defined and its causes determined. Many physicians are at odds with each other over the debate of is depression a mental illness. There are those who wholeheartedly believe that depression is a mental illness and then there are those who are determined to convince us that depression is simply feeling sad and not a true mental illness.

Depression Is More Than Feeling Sad

Everyone has, at one time or another, felt sad or generally down and out. These feelings are short lived and will pass within a few days, a week at the most. Depression is when your daily like is interrupted and pain is caused to you and those around you. This is a very serious illness and is also very common. There are numerous people who never get treatment for their depression. Those who do seek treatment have the best chance of getting well with treatment.

depression and illness

While there are several forms of depressive disorders, there are only a few that seem to be diagnosed easily.

  • Major depression has severe symptoms that will interfere with the ability to sleep, work, eat or even just enjoy life. Major depression can happen just once in a person’s lifetime or they can have several severe episodes throughout their life.
  • Persistent depressive disorder lasts for at least 2 years. When diagnosed with this disorder, they may also have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms.
  • Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus a form of psychosis. Psychosis can be having disturbing false beliefs, delusions, or hallucinations.
  • Postpartum depression is sometimes thought of as being the baby blues that some women experience after childbirth. However, it is much more serious than feeling overwhelmed.
  • Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is generally characterized by the onset of depression during the winter. When spring arrives, the depression will lessen or completely disappear.
  • Bipolar disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness and is characterized by extreme mood changes from very high to very low.

Causes of Depression

It is believed that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, psychological factors and biological. They are disorders of the brain and testing such as MRIs have shown that those suffering from depression have a different look to their brain than those who are not depressed. Certain sections of the brain are affected and include those that involve the mood, thinking, sleep, appetite and behavior.

Certain types of depression tend to run in families but people who do not have a family history of depression can also be diagnosed with it. There is no set diagnostic testing for depression. Doctors do know that by using the process of elimination, they can deduce that a person is suffering from some form of depression. Once the person is diagnosed, then a treatment plan can be put into place and start the healing process.

Yes, Depression is a Mental Illness

Although debates rage about depression and how to diagnosis it as well as is it truly an illness, there are many medical journals and other publications that support that depression is a true medical disorder. Clinical depression is an illness, in fact it is a mental illness that requires treatment plans to help those diagnosed lead normal, fulfilling lives.

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