General information

Depressive disorders are characterised by a recurrent, often chronic course. They can impair the quality of life more than any other disease.
The tendency to develop depression may be inherited: there is some evidence that depression may run in families. Most experts believe that both biological and psychological factors play a role.
The course of clinical depression varies widely: depression can be a once in a life-time event or have multiple recurrences, it can appear either gradually or suddenly, and either last for few months or be a life-long disorder. Depression often leads to suicidality.
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There is no single cause of depression. Current theories regarding the risk factors and causes of clinical depression can be broadly classified into two categories, psychological and biological. The psychological factors can be early experiences or traumatic life experiences (such as job loss, family crisis etc.). Biological factors mainly include genetic predisposition, neurological or general medical conditions.
To aid the diagnosis of depression, there are several criteria lists and diagnostic tools.
Before a diagnosis of depression is made, a physician should perform a complete medical exam to rule out any possible physical cause for the suspected depression.
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The treatment of depression is highly individualized to the patient, based on the patient's unique combination of biological, psychological and social health factors and the severity of their condition. Clinical depression is usually treated by psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of the two.
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Further information and patient organisations

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