Depression is defined as a mental health disorder characterized by a lack of positive affective background (loss of interest and pleasure in usual or previously perceived enjoyable activities and experiences), a low mood, and a range of associated emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioral problems. It is experienced as a significant decrease in mood, which does not fluctuate throughout a day and is not dependent on situational mood changes but persists over a prolonged period of time.
Depression is described as a phenomenon that affects an increasing portion of the population. According to the World Health Organization, global data from 2012 suggests that 350 million people are affected by depression. Statistical data shows that practically every fifth person experiences a depressive episode of varying intensity during their lifetime. The illness not only affects the subjective experiences of the individual but also has a major impact on social and occupational functionality, physical health, and mortality.
Currently, depression is the leading cause of disability in terms of social functioning. Often, depression begins at a young age and affects women more often than men. At least one in 10 women experiences postnatal depression after childbirth. Thus, depression affects the mother’s abilities to care for the young child, which has repercussions on the child’s development and mental health. Approximately one million people take their own lives annually due to depression, and for every suicide completed, there are 20 suicide attempts.
In simple terms, depression is generally described as a mental pathology characterized by the presence of depressive mood, loss of interest or pleasure, decreased energy or activity levels, feelings of guilt or low self-esteem, sleep or appetite disturbances, and reduced ability to concentrate. Individuals affected by depression feel a depletion of vital potential. They experience an inability to mobilize themselves and are overwhelmed by feelings of worthlessness, diminished self-esteem, and devaluation of their own self. People with depression often complain of the inability to derive pleasure from activities that used to provide such opportunities.
Furthermore, depression is often associated with anxiety. This problem can become chronic or present a recurrent course, leading to substantial impairment in coping with daily responsibilities.
Depression does not have a clearly determined etiological factor and is caused by multiple factors. Studies suggest that among the important factors are biological, psychological, and social factors.