2 Jun 2022


Depression as a Mental Illness

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Academic level: College

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As a contributor to the global saddle of diseases, depression affects many people across the world. The estimated number of people battling depression in the world today is over three hundred and fifty million. According to World Mental Health Survey in seventeen countries, one out of twenty people were diagnosed with depression (WHO, 2012). Usually, depressive disorders begin at an early age and have the tendency of limiting people’s functioning. One major characteristic of the illness is that it reoccurs. Hence, it is considered a leading source of disability. The encouraging factor is that depression can be treated. The paper will broadly talk about depression as a mental illness and its management. 

Many people have thought depression to be just a “low mood” which is not the case. Individuals who are depressed seem sad, but not all sad people are considered depressed. The difference between depression and sadness is that the feeling extends for a long time. The general signs of depression include sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest, low energy levels, guilt feelings, low self-esteem, and lack of sleep, loss of appetite, anxiety, and decreased concentration. When these signs become persistent and reoccur to an extent of massively interfering with an individual’s schedule, it can lead to suicide. There are different classifications of depression (Thase, 1999). The First type is the major depressive disorder /chronic major depression/unipolar depression. Its major characteristic is persistent sadness. Secondly, there is dysthymia, which is an overpowering and chronic nature of depression for at least two years. The third type is the bipolar disorder that is characterized by extreme mood fluctuations. It means that one experiences severe mania and low moods that switch briskly. The fourth category is the persistent depressive disorder that may stay for over two year. Symptoms of depression usually appear and disappear. The Seasonal affective disorder makes the fifth category of depression. It cause stems from the source of lighting for instance sunlight. The sixth category is the psychotic depression where one experiences delusions and hallucinations. Substance induced disorder can also be classified as a type of depression since the drugs causes direct physiological consequences. The final type of depression is postpartum depression, which can occur to new mothers. 

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Depression can affect any age group; however, the onset is usually at a younger age. Statistics indicated the average onset age for the illness is in the mid-20s. It should be noted that people experience depression episodes differently. The events seem to increase as the person grows. No single factor has been pinpointed to cause depression because some factors contribute to its onset. Biologists believe that there are genes that combine with environmental factors to cause depression. Additionally, scientists have explained the cause to be resulting from an imbalance of chemicals in the brain such as serotonin. However, psychologists believe that a person’s personality may have an influence on the acquisition of the disorder. Melancholic people tend to fall into depression faster as compared to other temperaments. Depression can also be caused by life events such as the death of a loved one, traumatic events, and diagnosis of a terminal disease. 

Some of the physical illnesses associated with depression are psychosomatic symptoms, headaches, coronary heart diseases, colorectal cancer, back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, sclerosis, and stroke. Some of the indicators that have been linked to depression include social withdrawal, loneliness, suicidal thoughts/attempts, overeating or loss of appetite, consistent sadness, insomnia, loss of interest in one’s pleasurable activities, feelings of hopelessness, and irritability. 

The risk factors and social determinants of the mental illness include some factors. For instance, the kind of lifestyle one lives. Substance abuse users are most likely to fall into depression due to the consequences of the drugs. Also, many people with eating disorders tend to be prone to depression. Traumatic life events such as the loss of a loved one, job loss, bullying, and having terminal diseases are also risk factors to depression. 

According to Centre Disease Control (CDC), at least, nine percent of adults in the United States suffer depression. It is one of the leading mental illnesses, and this has made it call for special attention from mental health care professionals. The United States has adopted various ways to treat the disease. First, there has been the use of cognitive behavioural therapy, which consists of a combination of behaviour and mind therapy. Depressed people receive psychiatrist therapy session in mental health facilities to help them quit unhealthy behavioural patterns. Secondly, the US health systems have adopted the use of family psych education and assertive community treatment (ACT). Since mental illnesses have been found to affect the entire family system, families of the patient have been welcomed to therapies. Additionally, severely depressed people undergo ACT in the US. It involves treatment involving many heath care providers besides psychiatrists. Services provided are comprehensive. Even though there are effective systems to treat depression in the States, majority of people without medical covers tend to miss treatment. Medical covers may not extend to the treatment of mental illnesses especially the employer-based medical covers. 

It cannot be entirely assumed that depression can be prevented especially in cases of major traumatic life events. However, people with genetics that predisposes them to depression can be helped before the onset. Some of the ways do this is through early cognitive behavioural therapy, antidepressant therapy, and problem-solving therapy. When vulnerable individuals attend the first treatment, they tend to release pent-up emotions that might drive them to unhealthy feelings and suicidal tendencies. The therapies can be accompanied by drug treatments to increase effectiveness. 

Mental health promotion refers to the process of creating awareness of any mental disease to the public to help them understand and quest for its prevention and treatment. One of the promotional strategies I would implement in this illness is the use of public health approach where people are educated about the nature of depression. It involves talking to people about the illness through any available media. 

Epidemiological studies indicate that depression varies across cultures. Most Western’s cultures such as the United States believe in the concept of individualism (Tsai, 2002). Symptoms of depression arise from within, and that is biological or mental. However, in many African cultures, a person showing symptoms of depression might be considered possessed by supernatural powers and treatment can involve the use of herbs and rituals. Certain cultures in Africa and Asia prohibit the expression of feelings openly as it is a sign of disrespect and weakness. People in these cultures tend to suffer in silence and depression can go unnoticed. Unlike in the United States, people with depression can be easily recognized because of the freedom to express oneself. 

In conclusion, depression is one of the common mental health illnesses that are persistent in our population. The symptoms and onset vary in different people. However, the most prominent symptoms include sadness, hopelessness, and social withdrawal, loss of appetite, insomnia, guilt, low self-esteem, and suicidal tendencies. Some o the causes of depression cannot be prevented such as life events, but people who are genetically predisposed to depression can be helped through continuous support and psychotherapy. Awareness about depression should be created all over the world, and survivors of depression encouraged to role models to the others. Additionally, mental health education should be readily available to individual since this act as a prevention strategy. 


Thase, M. E. (1999). Long-term nature of depression. The Journal of clinical psychiatry , 60 (suppl 14), 1-478. 

Tsai, J. L., & Chentsova-Dutton, Y. (2002). Understanding depression across cultures. World Health Organization. (2012). Depression: a global crisis. World Mental Health Day. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Depression as a Mental Illness.


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