This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on TBI and Depression. Dr. Jesse Fann discusses What Is Depression?

Depression is different for everybody. People experience it in different ways. However, it’s important to think of depression, particularly the most clinically significant type of depression, which is what we call major depression as a medical condition. Not too much different from high blood pressure or diabetes.

And again, while everybody experiences depression in a different way, there are some core features or symptoms of depression or major depression. So, the core features are depressed mood or feeling sad or down and also feeling a decrease or loss of interest in pleasurable activities or things that they’re usually interested in.

However, depression isn’t just feeling sad or down because everybody feels sad or down at some point. There’s a whole constellation of other symptoms that accompany, including things like a loss of energy, fatigue, low appetite or increased appetite, problems with mood – or I’m sorry, problems with sleep, decreased sleep or increased sleep, problems with concentration, feeling worthless, hopeless, guilty, and in severe cases people can not feel like they want to live anymore and even have suicidal thoughts.

These symptoms that I mentioned come together and affect a person’s ability to function and really affect their quality of life. Depression is not a sign of weakness. It’s not a sign that you’re not trying hard enough or that you don’t have enough willpower.

So, it’s very important to know that depression can really happen to anybody. It’s not your fault when you get depressed.

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