Depression poses many dangers, burdening people with hopelessness and raising their risk of suicide. But in attempts to quell the pain, some turn to alcohol, drugs, and other harmful behaviors that endanger them even further, psychologists say.
“There is a strong relationship between depression and high-risk behaviors,” says Pamela Cantor, PhD, a psychologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School.
“Excessive drinking, drug abuse, unsafe sex, and cutting are all self-injurious behaviors that...
Dysthymia. A type of chronic, low-grade depression that is less severe than major depression. It can also last for years. Dysthymia may not disable a person, but it prevents one from functioning normally or feeling well.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). A treatment for depression that uses an electric current to create a brief, controlled seizure. It is safe and often effective for depression that hasn't responded to drugs or therapy.
Hypomania. A milder form of mania.
Major depression. The medical diagnosis for depression that lasts for at least two weeks and interferes with daily life. It causes symptoms like low energy, fatigue, and feelings of hopelessness.
Mania. A symptom of bipolar disorder, mania is a period of intense energy, euphoria or irritability, sleeplessness, or recklessness. It is so extreme that it interferes with a person's life and can involve false beliefs (delusions) or perceptions (hallucinations).
Neurotransmitter. A chemical in the brain, like serotonin or norepinephrine, that sends messages between brain cells. Medicines that treat depression often alter the levels of these chemicals.
Panic attack. A sudden feeling of intense fear or anxiety, accompanied by physical symptoms, that isn't triggered by real danger. Panic attacks are common in many anxiety disorders.
Postpartum depression. Depression that affects women who have recently given birth. Many new mothers experience a brief episode of mild mood changes known as the "baby blues," but some will suffer from postpartum depression, a much more serious condition that requires active treatment and emotional support for the new mother.