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Depression is a syndrome of negative mood accompanied by associated biological/physical symptoms and psychosocial impairment. Major depressive disorder is characterized by at least five out of a list of nine symptoms, at least one of which must be a “core symptom” of depressed mood/irritability or anhedonia (reduced interest/pleasure). Symptoms must be associated with reduced function and last at least 2 weeks. Dysthymia is a pattern of milder, chronic depressive symptoms. Depressed/irritable mood must be present and at least two other major depressive disorder symptoms, and this must last for at least 1 year.

Depression is rarely caused by a single risk factor. Instead, there is normally an interplay between preexisting vulnerabilities and an acute stress. Risk factors are conventionally split into biological, psychological, and social factors. ...

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