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Depression Health Center

Mental Health: Depression

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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.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal depression, called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a depression that occurs 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 SAD known as "summer depression," begins in late spring or early summer and ends in fall.

What Are the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

People who suffer from SAD have many of the common signs of depression: Sadness, irritability, loss of interest in their usual activities, withdrawal from social activities, and inability to concentrate. But symptoms of winter SAD may differ from symptoms of summer SAD.

Symptoms of winter SAD 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 summer SAD include the seasonal occurrence of:

  • Weight loss
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Decreased appetite

 

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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