What is depression and how do I know if I have it?
Child and Adult Psychiatrist Dr. Domenick Sportelli breaks down the signs and symptoms of depression from biological, psychological, and sociological lenses.
Depression is a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, sociological co-morbidities that all come
together that cause someone to feel sad, lack of interest, potentially suicidal, decreased activity, sleep disturbance,
concentration issues. And these all lead to what we call a major depressive disorder. [MUSIC PLAYING]
My name is Dr. Domenick Sportelli. I'm a medical doctor and board certified in child and adolescent psychiatry and adult psychiatry.
When we talk about major depressive disorder, we talk about quite a bit with regard to why this happens to try and understand why people
would go through depression. So we tend to break things down into the biological, the psychological, and the sociological aspects of this.
From a biological perspective, some of the reasons why people would be depressed is actually an inherited quality.
And believe it or not, people that experience a major depressive episode in their life-- 40% to 50% of their first-degree relatives
may have also experienced a major depressive disorder. And what we noticed biologically as well is that if that major depressive disorder occurred early in life
for your first-generation relative, meaning a parent or a sibling, then you're more likely to experience a major depressive
episode in your life as well. So we do know that there's a biological component. And from that biology, we say, well,
wow, what's going on here? Well, we think we understand that it has to do with neurotransmitters in the brain. And basically, these neurotransmitters
are called monoamines. And I won't get into too much detail about that. But we definitely know that there's a biological mechanism
for a depressive episode. The other aspects of depression that are very, very important
are the psychological aspects of depression. And these are our own coping styles. How did we grow up? What did we experience in our lives psychologically?
How did we respond to those psychological cues? Maybe we experienced trauma. Maybe we experienced neglect.
Maybe we experienced adverse childhood experiences that could, down the line, lead to a mood disorder.
Another piece of this is sociological. What does our social life look like? Are we isolated? Do we have peers?
Are we in a low socioeconomic circumstance, which could lead to mood disorders and depression? So we look at things in a very well-rounded way
when we're trying to figure out what causes depression in each unique individual. Now if you're asking yourself, do I have a major depressive
disorder, am I experiencing depression, well, here are the criteria. First and most importantly is you
have to experience a sad and depressed mood. And this is something that you've been experiencing for over two weeks or more.
So it's not something that's just fleeting one day here and one day there. It's something for at least two weeks that you've been experiencing a sad and depressed mood.
Now associated with that are loss of interest in things that you used to like. And the fancy word for that is anhedonia.
That means, I used to love playing golf. And now I really don't care about it whatsoever. That's lack of interest in something.
Feelings of guilt-- people feel inherent guilt when they're depressed. People feel decreased energy when they're depressed.
We can also decrease concentration and attention. Our eating habits can change pretty significantly.
And that can go both ways. Sometimes people eat more and they gain weight. Sometimes people eat less and they lose weight. But the important thing is that there's
a change based on your mood. What we also see in depression is psychomotor retardation. And what that means is people tend
to move a little bit slower, talk a little bit slower, even walk a little bit slower when they're feeling down
and depressed. And then, of course, we cannot not address feelings of suicidality and worthlessness and hopelessness.
So when people have at least five of those symptoms for two weeks at a time and it's not related to a medical problem
or another psychiatric issue, we really think about classifying that as a major depressive disorder.
And if that's the case, we have various ways to treat it, including psychotherapy, which absolutely works.
We have medicines as well that we know are verified empirically that can help pretty tremendously, and other aspects that
can really, really help with a major depressive disorder. [AUDIO LOGO]
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