We find that there is a large variety of common diseases and mental disorders that occur throughout the US and other countries in the world, yet depression is one of the most ubiquitous with common occurrences in individuals of varying ages. We have days where we feel sad or "down," but once these feelings of sadness tend to stay for a very long time while affecting our daily routines, it is a common symptom of a disorder that causes prolonged negative emotions.
Two of the main symptoms of this disorder include continuous low self-esteem, and reoccurring episodes of loss of interest and pleasure. Though there is no way to actually test for depression, physicians like to order tests for other diseases or disorders that may case depression. Most cases of depression occur between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. There is a strong correlation between suicide and depression as 60% of suicide victims suffered from some form of depression.
Patients who suffer from poverty, neglect, and obesity also have an increased chance of having depression; abuse patients as well.
Most depression patients are treated with medication, though some go through therapy. The medications in question simply increase the output of chemicals that give the body happiness and energy such as serotonin and norepinephrine respectively.


Other Names (National Institute of Mental Health, 2014)

Mood disorder
Major depressive disorder
Major depression
Clinical depression

Causes of Depression

Depression can be caused by various factors. However, some of the most common ones have luckily been identified and may help potentially further prevent early signs of depression.

  • Brain Chemistry
  • Biological Differences
  • Hormones
  • Inherited Traits
  • Life events

(Mayo Clinic Staff, 1998-2014)
Though certain anatomical structures may be hard to identify with depression, physical changes in one's brain that contrast from a "normal" brain can help pinpoint common causes of depression (Mayo Clinic Staff, 1998-2014). We do know, however, that there may be other factors with the body and brain that play a huge part in depression. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals, and if they are out of balance (such as low dopamine), it may be associated with depressive symptoms (Mayo Clinic Staff, 1998-2014). These chemicals have played a huge part in determining depression over the years (Mayo Clinic Staff, 1998-2014). Despite neurological factors, inherited traits and traumatic life events (death/loss of a loved one, high stress, childhood trauma) come into obvious consideration when determining depressive disorder (Mayo Clinic Staff, 1998-2014).

Common Symptoms

  • Persistent sad, "anxious" feelings
  • Feelings of guilt or hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, including sex
  • Loss of memory
  • Sleepiness
  • Decrease or increase in appetite
  • Slowness in speech and movements
  • Random pains that cannot be explained
(National Institute of Mental Health & , 2014)

Application and Health Informatics

Methods of curing depression have improved since advances have occurred in research and statistics. Appliances of health informatics and health IT have progressed the success rate of determining early signs of depression as well. One healthcare app in particular,, has been a popular management tool platform that helps doctors detect ongoing depressive symptoms in their patients. is an application used by doctors and patients in which patient behavior can be detected through sensor data (, 2014). The main objective is to notify a doctor if there are any behavioral changes that clinically match the signs and symptoms of depression (Walter Frick, 2012). The process begins with a few steps.
  1. Doctors look for behavioral changes in their patients that match clinical depression signs- such as mood, sleep, social interaction, movement, and thought abnormalities (, 2014)/
  2. Doctors work to match the care plan to the patient's diagnosis/high risk profile (, 2014).

What is great about is that it is less costly of time and money for the patient. The patient does not have to take any required action, leaving the signals sent only to the doctor to analyze (Walter Frick, 2012). This is a huge step in the advancement of personal health records in the field of health informatics and is a ginormous breakthrough in detecting possible severe signs before it's too late (a depressive disorder progressively getting worse). Overall, offers solutions that pertain to efficient and effective workflow, enhanced patient and support network management, and improved clinical outcomes/quality measures.

Group Health Research Institute

Group Health is a research organization that focuses on using health IT and health informatics in order to transform health care into a better place (Ralston, 2014). They have participated in engaging patients aside from in-person visits which would also reduce time and money for patients (Ralston, 2014).

In regards to depression, the Group Health Research Institute primarily uses Web-based care along with patient-shared medical health records, and these records and methods work to improve care for depression and other chronic illnesses that are common in the US (Ralston, 2014). Since they support user-friendly technologies as well as privacy standards, it is common knowledge that patients with depression will feel much more comfortable with this group's research knowing that their data will be kept safe and efficient.

Other Forms Of Depression

Postpartum Depression: About 15 percent of women who give birth experience this for of depression as a result of hormone imbalances.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) : Involves a patient becoming depressed during the winter months.
Psychotic Depression: A person has psychotic depression when a person suffers from some kind of reality-breaking psychosis combined with a serious case of depression.
(National Institute of Mental Health)

Web Resources

Related Terminology

Mood disorder
Bipolar disorder
Psychological disorder