News, books, videos:



Depression is a widespread mental illness. Here you can read more about what characterizes depression.

Photo: by Jude Beck on Unsplash

What is depression in adults?

It is normal to be sad from time to time, but depression is more than feeling unhappy. When you are depressed, the low mood lasts over time and affects sleep, relationships with others, work and appetite. It's not something you can easily get out of.

There are different types of depression. This information is about depressive episodes and recurrent, depressive episodes. This is also called clinical depression.

Depression is linked to changes in the way the brain works. The brain sends signals between nerve endings using neurotransmitters called neurotransmitters. If you are depressed, then neurotransmitters called norepinephrine and serotonin are out of balance and do not work properly. 

Events in your life are also important. Depression can be triggered by stressful events such as marital breakdown or financial problems. A difficult childhood can make you vulnerable to episodes of depression.

Family illnesses also seem to play a role in depression, and depression can be linked to genes you inherited from your parents. Hormones can contribute to depression, especially in women.

If you have had a stroke or heart attack, or have another physical illness, the risk of becoming depressed increases. Social isolation, such as not having friends or family close by, can also increase the risk of becoming depressed.


What are the symptoms of depression in adults?

People with depression may feel that they are not able to cope with everyday life.

The main symptoms are sadness most of the time, decreased interest in things you usually like, and the feeling of being very tired. If you are depressed, you have had some of these symptoms most of the time, for at least two weeks.

You may also have some of the following symptoms:


  1. Difficulty sleeping, or too much sleep
  2. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  3. Low self-esteem
  4. Either low appetite, or increased appetite
  5. Unfounded guilt
  6. Feeling of being either "geared", or that everything is going slowly
  7. Suicidal thoughts

Men more often become irritable or anxious when they have a depression. They are much less often diagnosed with depression than women. This may be because they are less likely to talk about their feelings.

If you see a doctor, he or she will check if your symptoms have a cause other than depression. Certain medications, and certain medical conditions and infections, can cause the same symptoms as depression. Your doctor will ask you some questions and take blood or urine samples to rule out other conditions.

Doctors diagnose depression based on how many of the symptoms on your list you have. There is no specific test that can show that you have depression. Your doctor will ask if you have been treated for depression in the past, and about drug and alcohol use. The information you provide may affect processing.


Treatment of depression in adults

Depression is usually treated with antidepressants or psychotherapy. Both psychotherapy and antidepressants can work. It may take a while before antidepressants start to help. It is important to continue taking medication even if you start to feel better. Combined antidepressive/psychofarmacological therapy and psychotherapy work better for some, especially when the depression is severe. In mild to moderate depression, supportive care and conversations/psychotherapy are recommended as first choice, rather than medication.


What is depression in children and youth?

Adults are not the only ones who get depressed. Children and teenagers also become depressed, but often hide their feelings. As a parent, it can be difficult to know if your child is depressed or just going through a difficult period.

Depression is a disease that can get worse if left untreated, but children with depression can be helped with proper treatment. This information about depression is about children and teenagers aged 6 to 18 years.

No one knows for sure what causes some children and young people to become depressed. More girls than boys are depressed. Children may be more prone to depression if they argue a lot with their parents or if they do not have close friends. In addition, depression can recur in families.

Depression in children is often triggered by certain events. It can be anything from the death of a close relative, to a break-up with friends, or worries related to school work.


What are the symptoms of depression in children and youth?

Children and adolescents often have symptoms other than adults who are depressed. The following symptoms may indicate that your child is depressed:


  1. Is sad or irritable most of the day, or almost every day
  2. Loses interest in activities they enjoyed before


In addition to having a reduced mood, your child may:


  1. Do not feel like eating, or eat more than usual
  2. Sleeps too much or too little and has no energy
  3. Feeling restless or weak
  4. Blaming himself for things that go wrong. Feeling worthless or feeling guilty for no reason.
  5. Cannot concentrate or make decisions. The grades at school can suddenly become weaker.

Younger children may have physical symptoms for no apparent reason, such as headaches, abdominal pain, or pain in the arms or legs.

Teenagers have a higher risk of harming themselves. Some children cut themselves or think of suicide. They can also drink excessive amounts of alcohol or use (illicit) drugs.

Children do not have to have all these symptoms to be depressed. However, if your child has the first two symptoms and at least two of the other symptoms for at least two weeks, he or she may have severe depression. Do not wait more than a couple of weeks before talking to your doctor.


Treatment of depression in children and youth

Most adolescents with depression can be helped with treatment. Conversational therapies (psychotherapy) work well. The doctor will probably suggest conversational treatments first. Medications are used only if the child has a very severe depression, or if conversational treatments alone do not help.

Cite this article


Feel free to use information from this article on your website, but remember to add a link.


Written by

ove heradstveit

Ove Heradstveit

Psychologist, specialist in clinical community psychology. PhD.
 Facebook -  Twitter -  Scholar

Read more about depression


Symptoms of depression

Depression is a common mental illness. But what are the characteristics of depression?…