DEPRESSION/Dysphoria (Uni-Polar Disorder) & Anxiety (description and effects) Introduction:
Depression (suffering from "Uni-polar Disorder", or Dysphoria) is a quite common, persistent
pervasive, somewhat enigmatic, complex mood disorder that is quite common. First, let's kind
of clarify the terminology.  Major depression, also known as unipolar or major depressive
disorder, is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness or a lack of interest in outside stimuli.
The unipolar connotes a difference between major depression and bipolar depression,
which refers to an oscillating state between depression and mania.  Dysphoria (from Greek:
meaning "difficult to bear". It is a profound state of unease or dissatisfaction. In a psychiatric
context, dysphoria may accompany depression, anxiety, or agitation. To grasp a fuller
understanding of what all is (or can be) involved, I am presenting this in two parts: an
Introduction (this page) and Causes and "treatment" on a separate page.
Because of the complexity, it is a much-misunderstood, and hence enigmatic state of being,
with the result (generally), that due to the misunderstanding, it is generally not known exactly
what causes, or triggers depression. Because of this, often a large number of things that are
possible/probable causes are not considered, and taken into account, resulting in "treatment"
and assistance that too often address the wrong possible "causes". The reality is, as with many
mental/emotional reactions, that a variety of factors may, or will be involved.
Depression - Is not just a temporary or situational sadness; it is persistent and pervasive.
Depression may be the cause of a daily, unrelenting headache that peaks in the morning and
late afternoon. It is often accompanied by a complication of migraines. People with chronic
pain syndromes are often markedly depressed.
Similar to the manifestations on the Anxiety spectrum, Depression is a Reaction, also called a
mood "disorder"/reaction to life circumstances (see Causes/Treatment) in the majority of cases.
Depression permeates and affects virtually everything in life: how you feel, think and behave,
and generally leads to a variety of emotional, mental and physical problems. You may have
trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth
living. It is more than just a bout of the blues: depression isn't a weakness, and you can't
simply"snap out" of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. But don't get discouraged.
Most people with depression will feel better with medication, counselling, or both.
Depression: * Is described differently by people who experience it. * Is a common condition
("normal" - as a reaction) - and treatable. * Is not what in everyday language refers to as
“depression” which describes any short-term downturn in mood that may be relatively brief and
perhaps due to something relatively trivial. Depression persists! * Has symptoms that prevent a
person from leading a normal life. * In many ways depression resembles the grief and mourning
that follow bereavement, there are often feelings of low self esteem, guilt and self-reproach,
withdrawal from interpersonal contact and physical symptoms such as eating and sleep
disturbances (see below). * Depression ranges from normal feelings of the blues to major
depression (types of depression include: major depression, bipolar depression, dysthymia
(persistent mild depression), and seasonal depression (seasonal affective disorder – S.A.D.).
* Depression can also be experienced in other disorders,
such as bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder).
Affective (Feelings/Emotions - emotional symptoms):
* Persistent feelings of "emptiness" or sadness. * Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, and/or
guilty. * Substance abuse. * Fatigue or loss of interest in ordinary activities, including sex. * Change
in eating and sleeping patterns (too much OR too little). * Irritability, increased crying, anxiety and
panic attacks. * Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions. *Thoughts of suicide;
suicide plans, or attempts. *Persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not respond to treatment.
* Decreased energy (on edge), * Reduced motivation. * Reduced self-care (grooming, dressing, etc).
* Reduced desire for social activities (time with friends etc). * frequent episodes of absence from
place of employment. * Disturbance in eating or sleep habits, trouble falling asleep or staying
asleep (mind and thoughts go into hyper-speed), or sleeping excessively. * feelings of apathy and
anxiety (more below). * lack of emotional expression, and of motivation. * feelings of guilt
(especially inappropriate guilt), and/or self-blame.
Text continues below picture.
Cognitive (Mental/Intellectual) Symptoms;
- Problems with concentration, memory, and decision-making;
- generally negative self-evaluations and guilt;
- hopelessness; delusions and hallucinations only in severe cases.
- Lack of self-worth (worthlessness), and a pessimistic sense of inadequacy
- Diminished, or loss of, interest or pleasure in nearly all things.
- General difficulties in interpersonal situations.
- Reduced desire for social activities (time with friends etc);
- social withdrawal.
Biological/Physical Symptoms: reduction of the functional activity of
the body, such as:
- Decreased sexual interests - disturbances of sexual function.
- Persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not respond to treatment.
- poor appetite or weight loss (or gain), anorexia
- sleep disturbances, insomnia or hypersomnia (waking early or late)
- Fatigue and loss of energy (and motivation)
- physical symptoms such as slow movement and speech.
activity - the mental stimulus required to engage in physical movement.
- Psychomotor refers to the origination of movement as a conscious mental
agitation; generally "hyperactive" behavior.
- Psychomotor retardation – generally "slow" behavior; psychomotor
- reduced self-care; decrease in personal hygiene; decrease in meeting basic
For Anxiety "Disorders" - see Anxiety
Synopsis of Dysphoria in Children, the Elderly, Women & Men
Dysphoria in Children
The depressed child may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent,
or worry that the parent may die.
- Older children may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative, grouchy,
and feel misunderstood.
- Because normal behaviors vary from one childhood stage to another, it can be
difficult to tell whether a child is just going through a temporary "phase" or
is suffering from depression.
- Sometimes the parents become worried about how the child's behavior has
changed, or a teacher mentions that "your child doesn't seem to be himself."
- In such a case, if a visit to doctor rules out physical symptoms, the doctor
will probably suggest that the child be evaluated by a professional who
specializes in the treatment of children.
Disphoria in the Elderly
Some people think that it is normal for the elderly to feel depressed. It is not - most
older people feel satisfied with their lives.
- Often, when depression develops, it may be dismissed as a normal part of
physical, for the older people are often reluctant to discuss feelings of hope-
- When he or she does go to the doctor, the symptoms described are usually
lessness, sadness, loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities, or
extremely prolonged grief after a loss.
older person is taking for a physical problem, or they may be caused by a
- Depressive symptoms in older people are often missed.
- Doctors recognize that some symptoms may be side effects of medication the
Does Depression progress in severity as one gets older?
This is difficult to determine: On the one hand it can appear that it does; but on the
other hand, it could also be the case that because depression persists, it has become
almost a deeply ingrained "habit". Depression is difficult to counter - it takes a lot of
self-motivation and will-power - and depression generally makes both of those difficult:
not impossible, but difficult. When someone has given up - stopped motivating them-
selves (still waiting for the medications to do all th work) it will continue and deepen.
This can be reversed at any time, by taking the necessary steps to reduce the
depression (see Causes & Treatment of Depression)
Dysphoria in Women
Women experience depression about twice as often as men
and home, single parenthood, and caring for children and for aging parents.
- Many hormonal factors may contribute to the increased rate of depression in
women-particularly such factors as menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy,
miscarriage, postpartum period, pre-menopause, and menopause.
- Many women also face additional stresses such as responsibilities both at work
(PMS), women with a preexisting vulnerability to PMS experienced relief from
- A recent NIMH study showed that in the case of severe premenstrual syndrome
mood and physical symptoms when their sex hormones were suppressed.
Shortly after the hormones were re-introduced, they again developed symptoms
of PMS. Women without a history of PMS reported no effects of the hormonal
hormonal and physical changes, as well as the added responsibility of a new life,
- Many women are also particularly vulnerable after the birth of a baby. The
can be factors that lead to postpartum depression in some women.
- While transient "blues" are common in new mothers, a full-blown depressive
episode is not a normal occurrence and requires active intervention.
Dysphoria in Men
Although men are less likely to suffer from depression than women, millions of men are
affected by the illness.
- Men are less likely to admit to depression, and doctors are less likely to suspect it.
- The rate of suicide in men is four times that of women, though more women
- In fact, after age 70, the rate of men's suicide rises, reaching a peak after age 85.
Depression can also affect the physical health in men differently from women:
although depression is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease
in both men and women, only men suffer a high death rate.
acceptable habit/practice of working excessively long hours.
- Men's depression is often masked by alcohol or drugs, or by the socially
to seek help.
- Depression typically shows up in men not as feeling hopeless and helpless, but as
being irritable, angry, and discouraged; hence, depression may be difficult to
recognize as such in men.
- Even if a man realizes that he is depressed, he may be less willing than a woman
- Encouragement and support from concerned family members can make
programs can be of assistance in helping men understand and accept depression
- In the workplace, employee assistance professional or work-site mental health
as a real issue that needs treatment.
Dawn Cove Abbey
Deerfield, (Yarmouth County) Nova Scotia, Canada - 2008 rev: 2019
|If you feel you are suffering from Depression - or Anxiety - contact your
healthcare provider, please: or perhaps I may be of assistance.
|Depression-Dysphoria: Uni-Polar Debilitating Disorder
The Chaos and How it manifests: Sign and Symptoms
Dawn Cove Abbey
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