MedlinePlus, a resource of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, calls depression a “serious medical illness.” It points out that depression goes beyond a temporary feeling of sorrow and actually occurs because the brain is not working completely right. People with depression can’t simply “buck up” or use positive thinking to solve the problem just like someone with strep throat or cancer can’t mind-over-matter their way into remission or a cure.
Depression can occur in a variety of forms, including, but not limited to:
The CDC notes that medical professionals don’t know the exact cause of depression. Research has tied risks for depression to potential factors such as environmental factors and genetics. Some factors that could increase your risks of experiencing depression include:
The National Institute of Mental Health reports the prevalence of major depressive episodes for people of various ages. According to its 2017 data, in that year alone, around 11 million adults experienced at least one major depressive episode. Younger people were more likely to experience or report their depression, as you can see from the table below.
|Age Range||Percent of people experiencing major depression|
Depression isn’t a disorder limited to adults. The table below shows the prevalence of major depressive episodes in adolescents in 2017.
|Age||Percent of adolescents of that age who experienced major depressive episodes|
How can you tell the difference between feeling normal emotions such as sorrow and grief and depression that may require professional intervention? If you’re worried about your own mental state or that of someone you love, you may want to talk to a professional for assistance.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of depression to help you understand if there may be something to worry about. According to the NIMH, these can be an indication of depression if you notice them daily or almost daily for two weeks or more.
If you notice these types of symptoms for a couple of weeks or more, consider talking to your doctor or other medical professional about how you’re feeling. They can help you understand whether you need treatment and options you might have.
Depression can be treated. Like many chronic illnesses, the earlier depression is treated, the higher the chance at a positive outcome in most cases. But since depression is uniquely personal, no two situations are exactly the same. That means treatments are usually customized to fit the needs of the person in question, and they can range from basic lifestyle changes to inpatient therapy and medication.
Some treatments for depression currently offered include:
This guide is meant to be informational in nature only. Its purpose is to educate the public on the topic of depression, not recommend a specific treatment or provide medical advice. Always consult with your doctor and other medical professionals before moving forward with treatment for a mental health disorder or if you believe that you or someone you love may be dealing with depression.