One of the most common mental disorders in the world today affecting up to 340 million people worldwide is depression. Imagine the entire student body of Upper Darby High School infected with the exact same disease. Depression is a common but complex disorder diversely affecting a variety of people with a multitude of symptoms. The disorder may be brought into affect due to a large number of causes. What can be done? There are numerous manners in which to treat this disorder spanning from medication to counseling to support groups. Although depression is one of the most treatable mental illnesses in the world, only about one half of all cases of depression are diagnosed and successfully treated.

The most common symptoms of depression include low self-esteem, loss of energy, or lack of interest in activities previously experienced as pleasurable. Sleeping problems have also been associated with depression. A study shows roughly 80% of diseased individuals experience insomnia (depression. com 1).

Possible problems may include: difficulty in falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night with difficulty returning to sleep, waking up too early in the morning, brief periods of REM sleep, unusually long periods of stage 1 (light) sleep, or unusually brief periods of stage 3 and 4 (deep, restorative) sleep (depression. com 1). Weight and depression are also commonly associated with each other. Many people begin loosing interest in eating which results in weight loss. Others may experience the opposite effect and gain weight by overeating. Various antidepressant medications are known to have different affects on appetite and weight (depression.

com 3). Suicidal thoughts are also a more common symptom of depression. Most people do not commit suicide because of increased suicidal thoughts. The risk of doing so simply increases their suicidal tendency. The causes of depression remain unclear and vary from person to person. Genetic factors of depression have become a growing interest among scientist.

The most probable explanation of this disorder is a chemical imbalance in the human brain. Evidence suggests that depression is caused by a deficiency in noradrenaline and serotonin neurotransmitters (depression-net. com 2). Studies have shown that people with relatives who have depression gain a one in four chance of developing the disorder themselves, compared only with one out of 14 for the general population (depression- net. com 2). Other causes of depression may be based on external factors.

Magazines or TV shows have often portrayed an image of "perfect" people such as slender women or strong brave men. Excessive amounts of what society believes to be "cool" can lead to low self esteem for those who do not fit the profile (Koltsov 2). Other external triggers include a fear of failure, separation from family, death of a parent or lover, divorce, or a life altering illness. It is also important to know that in some cases depression can strike for no obvious reason (depression-net. com 2). Depression is often viewed as a predominantly female affliction.

This may be because the condition is most likely overlooked and misunderstood with respect to men. Men often deal with the disorder by self-medication, isolation or lashing out. They self-medicate themselves by drinking heavily, drug abuse, womanizing or watching excessive amounts of television (depression. about. com 1). It was once believed that women were more prone to depression than men.

Nowadays it is thought that women are more likely to seek help for this disorder, therefore having their depression recorded (. com). More women suffer from unipolar depression than men (. com 1). Women experience several biological changes in their lives: hormonal changes every month, pregnancy, postpartum and m (. com 1).

Postpartum depression is a more sever form of "baby blues" that affects 10% to 15% of all new mothers (depression. com 1). Typical symptoms of this disorder are: frequent crying, insomnia, and lethargy. They may all appear within months of a delivery.

Hormones contribute to the risk of depression in expecting mothers. During pregnancy, the level of endorphins is increased but abruptly fall later after delivery (depression. com 2). Rape and psychical abuse may also play a role in female depression. Women have a higher chance of sexual abuse or raped. These events can lead to feelings of helplessness or self-blame.

Gender Discrimination is another factor that may lead to a lowered self-image, or self-worth, resulting in depression. Depression in adolescents is usually undetected because their moods are expected to jump up and down (. com 1). Most parents fail to understand why their child is depressed.

Childhood years are often considered to be carefree. The fact of the matter is that children do worry. Most often they worry about peer acceptance, grades, or parental expectations. Other external factors such as the loss of a parent, abuse, or divorce may also trigger depression.

In order to cope with this disorder most teenagers turn to drugs and alcohol to help ease the pain, but in turn only making matters worse. Treatments for depression vary depending on the severity of the diagnosis. Professional psychologist counseling can help. Psychotherapy aims to help the depressed person replace negative thoughts and attitudes with a more realistic view of themselves and the world (depression-net. com 4). Antidepressants are used to treat the more sever cases of depression.

Contrary to popular belief, antidepressants are not "uppers" and are not addictive (psychology info. com 4). They work within the brain to either increase the levels of noradrenaline or serotonin (depression-net. com 5). The benefits of antidepressants gradually appear within two weeks of treatment (depression-net. com 5).

The feelings of sadness and hopelessness gradually subside and begin to be replaced with an increase of energy, appetite and improvement in sleep. Treatment with antidepressants usually lasts about four to six months after a person starts to feel better (depression-net. com 5). Studies show that more than 70% of people with depression respond to treatment (depression-net. com 5). Those who do not respond either have their dosage increased or switch to a different antidepressant.

If this does not work, the doctor may consider electro convulsive therapy. This is reserved for only the most sever cases of depression in which a patient has not responded to medication or for some reason is unable to take antidepressants. ECT is one of the most effective treatments for depression. Over the years, it has advanced to become a safer procedure (depression-net.

com 5). The World Health Organization predicts that depression will be the greatest burden of ill health to the developing world by the year 2020. It is predicted to be the second largest cause of death and disability (depression-net 1). Will the new millennium spawn a new breed of ill mannered, drug intoxicated, depressed individuals? Depression is the most common mental disorder in the world today, and yet there are still many aspects of this illness that we do not know about. The exact cause of depression remains undetermined without a cure. There is no precise test that can be given to determine weather or not an individual has depression.

There is a certain lack of understanding and knowledge among society. It is abnormal for a person to commit self inflicted harm intended upon ending his or her own lives. There is help for those depressed individuals.