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What is Unipolar Depression?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Unipolar depression, also called major depression, is a clinically diagnosable condition that can result in a number of physical, mental, and emotional problems. A person can become depressed for many reasons, including life stresses, unusual biochemical activity in the brain, and a familial history of depression or other mental disorders. An individual who feels down most of the time and experiences noticeable changes in mood and behavior can find immediate help, so long as he or she is willing to speak openly about problems with doctors or psychologists. Recovery is likely with adequate support from friends and family and an earnest desire to get better.

In addition to the well-known symptoms of feeling sad, pessimistic, and hopeless, a person with unipolar depression may also experience irritability, problems sleeping, and dietary changes. An individual may feel fatigued most of the time and unable to concentrate on mental tasks. Unipolar depression can cause a person to lose interest in activities that he or she once enjoyed, such as sports, spending time with friends, and sex. In addition, it is common to have unfounded yet very present feelings of guilt, anxiety, and anger.

People often feel entirely hopeless and helpless when they are depressed. In reality, depression is one of the most common conditions seen by medical professionals worldwide; help is readily available when a person decides to do something about his or her situation. An individual who believes that he or she may be suffering from unipolar depression should schedule an appointment with a psychologist or a medical doctor right away to receive an accurate diagnosis and learn how to overcome symptoms.

Professionals can diagnose unipolar depression by carefully evaluating reported symptoms and checking for underlying medical problems. A diagnosis is made when the doctor can confirm that symptoms are chronic, meaning that they last for more than two weeks. Once the condition has been correctly identified, medical experts can help the patient decide on the best course of treatment.

Many people benefit from a combination of positive lifestyle changes, regular counseling sessions, and medications. By establishing a healthy diet and exercise routine and learning to better manage stress, a patient has a good chance of feeling better within weeks. Antidepressant medications can help balance chemical activity in the brain and promote happier feelings. Most patients are encouraged to meet with psychologists or support groups to give them the opportunity to talk about their problems, uncover hidden feelings, and learn new coping strategies.

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Discussion Comments

By whitesand — On Jun 12, 2011

Wow, I just checked out a website that explains all or most of the unipolar depression symptoms and I have to say that we may all be suffering from major depression. We can't all be happy one hundred percent of the time can we?

I mean I'm a fairly happy guy and pretty stable minded most of the time, but I can get nervous or irritable or have an occasional night of insomnia too. Am I supposed to think that I'm in some way depressed and need to seek treatment right away for feeling this way?

I think we all get a little down and depressed at some point in our lives but it really all depends on how well we deal with it and how deeply we've been affected by it.

There is always help available for both bipolar and unipolar depression and treatment is only a phone call or a click of the mouse away.

By Sierra02 — On Jun 10, 2011

@bfree - People who have unipolar or bipolar depression suffer from a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is very hard to control their mood or their emotions.

I know this first hand because my husband suffers from bipolar depression and his symptoms effect our entire family. For two to three weeks during the depressive episode he is completely dysfunctional.

We're not able to have a social life during this time or at least we keep it down to a bare minimum and absolutely no one is invited to our home.

On this side of the spectrum it is very upsetting and it seems so easy to tell them to just snap out of it. But they can't and my husband won't even allow me to get close enough to him during these episodes to even try to help him.

It's like riding out a storm and praying that we'll all come out well in the end. I wish it were only a cop-out trying to avoid the day-to-day pressures of life.

By bfree — On Jun 07, 2011

It seems to me that people who suffer from major depressive disorder have a tendency to prolong those feelings without asking for help or seeking medical attention. I mean after all in today's society we're all overwhelmed with demanding lifestyles.

I'm not down-playing the symptoms or referring to people who have a unipolar disorder as using it as an excuse to not deal with life's pressures by no means.

The point I'm trying to make is that it could be difficult knowing that when you feel better you will have to start facing those demands and all the stress that goes along with it.

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