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    Mental Health: Depression

    What Are the Symptoms of Dysthymia?

    Symptoms of dysthymia include:

    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Loss of interest in activities or the ability to enjoy oneself
    • Excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness
    • Loss of energy or fatigue
    • Difficulty concentrating, thinking or making decisions
    • Changes in appetite
    • Thoughts of death or suicide

    Dysthymia differs from major depression in that dysthymia involves fewer of the above symptoms than occurs in major depression. To be diagnosed with dysthymia, symptoms must persist for at least two years in adults or one year in children or adolescents.

    Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern (formerly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder)

    Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern, formerly called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a subtype of major depressive disorder that recurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall or winter and ending in spring or early summer. It is more than just "the winter blues" or "cabin fever." A rare form of depressive disorder with seasonal pattern, known as "summer depression," begins in late spring or early summer and ends in fall.

    What Are the Symptoms of Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern?

    People who suffer from depressive disorder with seasonal pattern have the symptoms of a major depressive episode. These can include sadness, irritability, loss of interest in their usual activities, withdrawal from social activities, and inability to concentrate. But some symptoms of a winter pattern may be more likely to occur than in a summer pattern.

    Symptoms of depression with a winter pattern may include the seasonal occurrence of:

    • Fatigue
    • Increased need for sleep
    • Decreased levels of energy
    • Weight gain
    • Increase in appetite
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Increased desire to be alone

    Symptoms of depression with a summer pattern may include the seasonal occurrence of:

    What Causes Depression?

    There is not just one cause of depression. It is a complex disease that can occur as a result of a multitude of different factors, including biology and emotional and environmental factors. For people biologically vulnerable to depression, it may sometimes start with a significant life event, such as the loss of a loved one or a change in one's life or after being diagnosed with a serious disease. For others, depression may just occur for no apparent "reason." In fact, there does not need to be any apparent "reason" for the symptoms of depression to occur in people who are vulnerable to the illness.

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