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What Happens When A Person Is In Depression?

Updated on July 6, 2008

Depression is the feeling of inadequacy and utter hopelessness that leads to inactivity. Try imaging an athlete running on a track with hurdles. When he is happy and content, he goes around the track, eagerly jumping hurdles as they are presented to him. Sometimes he fails, sometimes he succeeds - that is normal. Mid-course, when he suddenly gets depressed for some reason, it is as if he were hammered to a size 10 times smaller. Still, the hurdles are the same height and track, the same length.

Life is a seemingly perpetual problem-solving course, we all have our fair share of successes and failures. A staggering 20 per cent of women and 12 per cent of men in the United States alone experience depression to a pathological level. Of these men and women, 15 per cent end up committing suicide. Depression is already highly prevalent in countries like Pakistan and is constantly on the rise. It is a major problem of our times and from what it appears, of times to come.

Not everybody who experiences depression can be labelled as clinically depressed and a candidate for psychological assessment and therapy by a professional. One is referred to as clinically depressed when this emotion is blown out of proportions for a prolonged period of time and significantly affects the person's functionality for example, as a parent or as a professional.


There are several symptoms that may be found in the depressed. People, who are depressed, feel sad and low in spirit. They have crying spells for meagre or no reason at all. They repeatedly think about death and may contemplate suicide and complain of loss of pleasure in previously pleasurable activities and hobbies.

The cognitive symptoms include recurrent negative thoughts. A depressed person feels something missing inside him and becomes hopeless. Depression also leads to acceptance of whatever life brings, whether good or bad and reluctance to initiate any new activity.

A depressed person may face change in appetite -- he may be eating too much or too little, as compared to before. There are also sleeping disorders, early morning awakenings. Depression also causes fatigue.

A person does not necessarily has to have all these symptoms to be pathologically depressed but the higher the number, the greater the evidence.

It might be useful to ask what really goes wrong on in our brains when we are depressed. Though, there is intense inquiry going on to explain how depression affects brain cells -- the neurons, we admittedly still know very little. For the past few decades explaining depression has predominantly been the domain of psychologists and other people who concentrate on understanding the function of the brain rather than its structure. They have proposed quite a few interesting theories.

Depression From Different Prespectives

The psychoanalytic perspective sees depression as a reaction to loss. The depressed person reacts to a loss intensely because the current situation brings back the fears and memories of an earlier loss -- that being the loss of parental affection in childhood etc. Any failure in later life causes the individual to regress to his or her helpless, dependant stage as in childhood. Part of the depressed person's behaviour is a portrayal of the helplessness and a general appeal for attention and affection.

The behavioural perspective tries to explain depression as the consequence of a lack of positive reinforcement (exaltation) and a high rate of unpleasant experiences.

The main source of support for the depressed is the sympathy and kindness they receive from their family and friends. But since it is tiresome to be around a person who refuses to cheer up, this last support might also be lost, further alienating and isolating the depressed person. The consequent increase in depression might lead to further deterioration of fruitful activity and social interaction worthy of being praised.

The cognitive perspective on depression focuses on how people view themselves and the world rather that what they do. It proposes that depressed people have a distorted view of their surroundings and they end up deriving generalisations from too little experience.

The biological perspective says that disorders like depression have an inherited component to them. It has been found that if one identical twin is depressed, there is a 53 per cent chance that the other twin will be depressed as well. This is usually taken as evidence for this perspective since identical twins have a very similar genetic make-up. But it is far from clear how genetic factors play their specific roles.

Hypothesis About Depression

It is thought that a biochemical abnormality is the main culprit. A substantial body of evidence indicates that our moods are influenced by chemicals, called neurotransmitters that transmit messages from one neuron to another. Two neurotransmitters that are thought to play a role in causing depression are nor epinephrine and serotonin, both of which belong to a group called biogenic amines. Both are localised to a brain region that controls emotions (limbic system and the hypothalamus).

The biological hypothesis states that depression is caused by decreased availability of these neurotransmitters. This hypothesis is indirectly supported by evidence from drugs that act by causing a net increase in the availability of nor epinephrine and serotonin, and are helpful in relieving depression.

Needless to say, these explanations are far from perfect. However, a lot of people who are interested in knowing how the brain works, are vigorously trying to piece together the puzzle of problems like depression.

Suicide is a disastrous consequence of depression. In the US alone, 30,000 people die each year as a result of successful suicide attempts. It is thought that this figure is under-estimated since suicidal deaths are not always reported due to the stigma associated with them.

Some individuals commit suicide because they feel that they can no longer bear their psychological distress and see death as the only solution. Their only motive is to end their life. In other people, the desire to die may be missing. They only attempt suicide to make others aware of their plight and impress them with the seriousness of their problems. Such a suicide attempt, with no desire to die (also called a parasuicide), is motivated by the intent to convey to others their despair and plea to change their behaviour.

It must be realised that severe depression is a real problem - a disease like diabetes or hypertension. Only the one who experiences it knows how difficult and how immensely debilitating it is. People who are depressed are like little children, they badly need a little bit of extra attention and affection or else they crumble under their own weight.


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    • hassam profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Pakistan

      Hi Subodh, firstly you should really stop thinking that you are ill in any way because many people who are really not ill consider themselves ill or depressed, because depression is coming out to be a very common word now. Mood ups and downs do come but for that reason you should not consider yourself ill.

      Every one has some quality but its not necessary it should please others, because every one is not like minded. You should try to spend more time with family or friends that you think have similar interests. You should try to concentrate on what people are saying, try to engage in discussions or may be initiate a topic. I think you would be most comfortable talking to your family.

      Do, some light exercises and develop some hobbies, that will keep you focused. Also set some aims in life like in studies or what you intend to do in future, but its not necessary you achieve your goals but that is how life goes, keep trying, enjoy and cherish what you have! :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      hello im 21 year old im suffering from depression since 2 years or more then 2 years i need u r help to recover it

      i feel shame in front of people n my mood is not one type it change within minute if any one say sumthing to me i fell bore or think i don't hav ant quality to show day by day i have of tension. what i can i do plz tell me?

    • hassam profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Pakistan

      Hi Hally,

      Being happy is not as difficult as people think, it is just the feeling that we keep thinking of not being happy which keeps us unhappy and disturbed all the time. You are 16 and you have great life ahead, there is nothing to worry about.

      May be you would have some hardships right now however good times also come upon us, but only if we face hard times with courage. Just like I mentioned in my previous comment, they are people suffering much more than us who simply don't have homes or food to eat, water to drink! They are left homeless by their loved ones, still they live happily. You should try then to evaluate your living conditions and than cherish that you are still better.

      The best way is overcome depression is spent time among people who need care, like in orphanage or old age homes or in social work, where you will definitely feel good by helping others and they will love you for what little you had done to them. This will boost your self esteem too!

      And yes you should not shy a bit in telling other about your problems, but not every body! You should share your feeling with your loved ones whenever you need to!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I don't understand why its hard for me to be happy and have some esteem only 16 years old and im going through hell. I understand that life is hard but I think its worse on me.i need help but im not comfortable to tell everyone my business but I thnk I should let sonone kno because most times I thnk of killing myself and no one kno why

    • hassam profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Pakistan

      Hi, Megan. First of all you shouldn't really think that you are sick or depressed in any way. Feeling depressed or lonely is the first step in leading to permanent depression. I don't know what circumstances have made you to go to a hospital and lead you to hurt yourself.

      I hope you getting through and good counselling from a good doctor or your family members because if you don't you should talk to you doctor when ever you need to express what you feel but it is a serious concern.

      The biggest cause of depression is feeling deprived of something or possibly bad relationships, however one should try to see other people who are so deprived of even the most basic necessities that they are not able to get adequate food or water and still go on with their lives.

      You should also try to look at these people in fact try to spend time among such people and try to help them! Look at the people who are physically disabled and then Thank God for giving you what you have. I bet if you try to help such physically challenged and deprived people you will start to feel good.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hello I'm 17 , i need help , very badly . I have this problem where i really can't control myself when i'm angry . I've once been sent to a mental hospital because i cut my hand a lot due to my anger and depression and if i cut myself i feel better because the pain somehow calms me . But the doctor diassaprove me and he thinks that i'm fine . I tried to stop cutting my hand an yes i did , but then i really can't take it sometimes i feel angry for a small matter and then depress too much that my brain hurts . When i'm angry i tried to calm myself down but infact my hands are all shaky and i endup pulling my hair and also cry for almost 3 hours straight . I have been through this almost 6 years and still no cure . What should i do ?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi there, My name is Rachel, I suffer from what I think is depression. I am 29 years of age and feel like it is taking over my life. I have had symptoms for approx 2 years.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks Hassam,wonderfull work. I wished you worked a little further in doing your research to find some remedies and medication. What other than medication can cause enhanced reproduction of these neurotransmitters? What should the people around such a patient be doing to help in his/her recovery process? My experience says sunlight is a big help, specially for those who live at places like Scandinavia, upper Europe or canada where sunlight in winters is very rare and surroundings are rather depressive.

    • hassam profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pakistan

      Thank you!

    • Neet8 profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi there, thank you for your helpful Hub. It is such a shame that there is still such a stigma about depression. As one who has suffered from depression, I battled alone with this for many years, until I almost had a breakdown and decided to get the necessary medication and counselling that I most desperately needed.

      I come from a family where depression is not really recognised, however if you ever suffered from depression, you would know that it is a crippling disease which robs you of clear goals, thoughts and feelings. Anyone who dismisses this as just mere 'self attention' has never experienced depression and frankly I would not wish depression on anyone.

      Thanks again, for your hub. I'm happy to say that I have now recovered and have many clear goals and ambitions, which includes maintaining a healthy, mind body and spirit.

      Good luck to you and all the best.

    • hassam profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Pakistan

      Well I love writing about facts,so I decided to collect some facts about depression

    • kimcnoche profile image


      10 years ago

      Learned a lot from here! What inspired you to write this?

    • Hill Country profile image

      Hill Country 

      10 years ago from San Antonio

      Nah. I think depression is just anger without the enthusiasm.


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