Depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general. It is normal to experience these feelings from time to time, but when such feelings last for an extended period, and the feelings interfere with daily activities it becomes a problem.

Depression can affect things such as taking care of family, spending time with friends, or going to work or school. When this happens, you are likely experiencing a major depressive episode.

Major depression can lead to a lot of behavioural and physical symptoms that manifest in different ways for different people. These may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behaviour or self-esteem and is also associated with thoughts of suicide.

Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Depression can happen at any age but often begins in adulthood. Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children.

Risk factors for depression include:

  • Personal or family history of depression.
  • Significant life changes, trauma, or stress.
  • Certain physical illnesses and medications.

Many factors contribute to mood disorders. They are likely caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, although stressful life changes may also add to a depressed mood. Anyone can feel sad or depressed at times. However, mood disorders are more intense and harder to manage than normal feelings of sadness. Sometimes, life's problems can trigger depression such as losing your source of income, a break-up or the loss of someone close to you.