As medical science and technology developed through the course of human history, so did the definition of what constitutes a healthy individual. Health is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "not an absence of illness, but a state of complete mental and physical wellbeing", which clearly encompasses the mental health of an individual…
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WHO defines depression as "a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration" and it currently affects 121 million people worldwide (WHO). While depression is defined as a mental illness, there are many psychosomatic reactions that affect a person's general health and wellbeing. These somatic symptoms include headaches, aches and pains throughout the body without any conclusive medical testing, as well as constipation, decreased appetite and loss of weight, and even disturbed menstrual cycle. Decreased libido, as well as one of the most obvious symptoms of depression, excessive sleep are also evident, and patients generally present with slowness in movement and action when completing even the most menial of tasks (WHO). Depression can have, however, even far more reaching consequences, as its chronic form significantly increases the chances of a might to a disastrous outcome in the form of suicide, of which 850 000 people lose their lives (WHO). The latest statistics show that depression is already the second cause of global contributor to disease in the 15-44 years category for both sexes, and represents the leading cause of disability worldwide (WHO). It affects mostly the previously mentioned age group, and it is more prevalent in women than in men. It is also important to mention that there is a certain genetic component, as people with family history of depression are 10-15% more likely to develop depression than in the 1-2% in the normal population. One should also consider the daunting fact that children whose parents are depressed are 50-70% more likely to develop depression, when considering the realistic genetic component behind depression (WHO). To truly understand the effect of depression, however, one must consider the treatments and their availability to the population. While psychological treatment, coupled with antidepressants and other medications is effective 60-80% (WHO), one should also consider that less than 25% of depressive patients receive the appropriate treatments, mainly because of the lack of the appropriate medications, or social status and stigma (WHO).
Depression as a psychological illness in modern medicine
In 1980, the cluster of symptoms including depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration were named as major depressive disorder by the American Psychological Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Depression is usually diagnosed through careful examination of the patient and the presented symptoms. In order to have a successful diagnosis of depression, the physician, generally a psychiatrist or psychologist, or even a general practitioner, must consider whether or not there are certain elements in the patient's life that may cause symptoms of depression, but not the mood disorder itself. A history of drug and alcohol abuse should always be taken into regard, but there are
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