Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders among people in the United States. This condition should always be taken seriously, because it easily disrupts a person’s life, causes health issues, and interferes with the individual’s ability to function. There is effective treatment for depression available.
An estimated 3.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode.
There are varying degrees of depression among both adults and children. While some people’s depression keeps them from getting up in the morning and even poses a threat to their life through suicidal thoughts, milder forms of depression are also more than just feeling sad. People with depression don’t “just have the blues” or feel lazy or unmotivated; they struggle with a mental illness which they are unable to control without depression treatment.
Statistics of Depression
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) estimates that:
Teens and children suffer and need depression treatment as well. NIH reports that:
Types of Depression
Depression is categorized based on causes of the disorder, symptoms, and severity. There are many different types of depression, but some of the more common types are described below, as well as the prevalence of each.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
is depression that correlates with the seasons, occurring during the winter months when there is less sunlight. Sufferers of this type of depression find themselves withdrawing socially, feeling lethargic, needing more sleep, and gaining weight. Seasonal affective disorder is estimated to affect 10 million Americans today. (Psychology Today)
Perinatal depression, or postpartum depression
occurs among new mothers shortly after giving birth. This depression causes extreme anxiety, exhaustion, and feelings of sadness, making it an even greater challenge for the new mother to care for her baby. CDC research shows that nationally, about 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression.
Persistent depressive disorder
is a depression that lasts for a long period of time – more than two years. This disorder causes depressive symptoms that vary in severity, even in the same individual. The distinguishing characteristic of this type of depression is the length of time it affects the individual. Persistent depressive disorder affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year or about 3.3 million American adults. (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)
is a type of depression that occurs along with psychosis, or some sort of delusion or hallucination. This type of mental illness is more difficult to diagnose and treat because of the co-occurring disorders associated with it. It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of people with major depression also have symptoms of psychosis. (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
is a combination of depression and manic episodes. The individual with bipolar disorder will swing between feeling very low and depressed to feeling high and euphoric. While different from other types of depression, bipolar disorder is just as serious, and often harder to manage. An estimated 2.8% of U.S. adults had bipolar disorder in the past year, and an estimated 4.4% of U.S. adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives. (Harvard Medical School)
Depression and Substance Use Disorders
One major complication that commonly arises in connection with depression is substance use. In fact, studies estimate that about 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder such as depression have an alcohol or other substance use disorder, and about 20 percent of those with an alcohol or substance use disorder also have an anxiety or mood disorder (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). It is often difficult to determine whether a person’s depression or substance abuse came first because these two conditions occur together so often and each has the ability to exasperate the other.
An individual who struggles with depression feels their life is out of control and hopeless, filled with mental, emotional, and even physical pain and uncertainty. These individuals often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, trying to make themselves feel better. On the other hand, many substances actually cause symptoms of depression, and sometimes it is the substance abuse that comes first and leads to depression.
Regardless of which disorder occurs first, treatment for co-occurring disorders must address both conditions at the same time, since this is the only way to break the cycle and offer real help.
It is very difficult to recover from depression without first telling someone about the troubling thoughts and feelings, but most people who suffer from depression feel embarrassed about their condition and try to keep it a secret. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, at least 37% of adults with major depressive episodes do not receive treatment for depression. When it comes to adolescents, the numbers are even more critical: 60% of adolescents with major depressive episode do not receive treatment.
Help for depression is available and it is effective. Medications are used to stabilize the patient and ease some of the symptoms of depression. Then, through therapy and counseling, the individual must learn how to manage their depression recovery and other mental health illness, to keep it from controlling their lives any longer. The assistance of a strong support system, either in the form of support groups, solid family connections, or extended counseling, is important for long-term healing.
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