Depression affects approximately 1 in 15 adults yearly, with 1 in 6 people experiencing depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but often first appears during the mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression, with one-third of women experiencing a major depressive episode in their lifetime. In a general sense, lesser forms of depression are common, more common than people share. Depression is also a serious medical illness, which negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Depression comes with symptoms that vary from mild to severe, seen in 3 different domains.
For a formal diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, FIVE of the above symptoms must be present every day for most of the day during a two-week period. One of the five symptoms must be either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure. The symptoms must be substantial and interfere with functioning. Also, medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms (for example, thyroid problems, iron deficiency, etc) must be ruled out as they can mimic the symptoms of depression. Depression can affect anyone—even a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances. Several factors can play a role in having Depression such as biochemistry (chemicals in the brain), genetics, environmental factors (exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty, etc), etc.
Depression, as detailed by the symptoms above, is different from normal feelings of sadness or grief. For example, loss of a job, big life transitions, ending a relationship, or loss of a loved one can be difficult experiences for anyone. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to certain situations. Those experiencing loss often might describe themselves as being “depressed,” but being sad is not the same as having Depression.
Depression is among the most treatable of mental disorders. Between 75-85 percent of people with depression respond well to treatment. Almost all clients gain some relief from their symptoms. There are many treatments available for Major Depression, and a combination of treatments is often used. Such treatments may include:
It is important to know that Depression can wear you out at the exact time you need all of your strength to fight. Trying to cope is extremely tiring — and it’s often difficult to know when others are suffering. Support goes a long way. Speaking with professionals such as a therapist, doctor, or a church leader can help. It is important to know that depression is not someone’s fault and should not have a stigma attached to it, just as other medical illnesses should not have a stigma attached to them.