Depression is a common mental disorder in general population affecting individuals of all ages, gender and ethnicity. It has a variety of physical and psychological symptoms and can present in various forms. Depressed individuals usually have a positive family history. Depression has a strong genetic basis as well as many environmental factors can act as predisposing and precipitating factors for this condition. It is a highly disabling disorder leading to social and functional impairment. It is also associated with higher suicidal rates and tendency of substance abuse. It coexists with a number of chronic medical illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, etc. Thus, it affects the outcome of these illnesses as well and can lead to higher morbidity and mortality.
It is important to screen high risk individuals for depression and treat them adequately. If not treated, depression can have a chronic course and lead to adverse consequences. These include conflicts within the family, loss of work and economic burden. Along with the depressed patients, their families and friends also suffer a lot of problems and require sympathy and support.
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