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Is depression a disease?

posted Jun 21, 2019, 11:44 AM by Dr. Curtis Cripe

One of the most common queries encountered when understanding depression in the 21st century is whether it should be qualified as a disease. But to best answer this question, one should keep in mind the meaning behind the various ways in which neurologists conceptualize depression as well as its features, says behavioral medicine expert Dr. Curtis Cripe.

Firstly, as far as features are concerned, depression is usually characterized by a variety of symptoms, namely: depressed mood, disinterest and loss of pleasure, chronic insomnia, repeated fatigue, a feeling of worthlessness, significant weight loss or weight gain, a decreased ability to concentrate, indecision, and recurring thoughts of death of suicidal ideation. It’s important to note that these symptoms should cause apparent impairment in living one’s daily life but should not be attributed to another medical condition or substance abuse.

Such bodily manifestations of depression make it hard to think of depression as strictly a disorder related to the mind, especially since both mind and body comprise a complementary, overlapping system. Today, there has thus been increasing support of the theory that depression is a systemic disease.

However, simply labeling depression as a disease does little to fully encompass its complex nature, cautions Dr. Curtis Cripe. It’s still an illness treated using psychotherapy, after all. But such changing optics is already a move toward a better understanding of depression as a disorder involving both the mind and the body.

Dr. Curtis Cripe is the head of research and development at the NTL Group, which specializes in the creation of neuroengineering programs for the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders. For more reads on neurology, go to this page.