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I am an English major with a longstanding interest in medicine

How I Stay Healthy


My Experience with Health Challenges

Five years of caregiving for a quadriplegic

Edited Depression Overview: Overview 12 years ago

<meta></meta><meta></meta><meta></meta><meta></meta><meta></meta>Depression can be thought of as a mood disorder, a syndrome involving a collection of symptoms irrespective of the presence of other psychological or medical disorders. Depression itself can be a symptom of other diagnosed disorders. As its own psychological dysfunction syndrome, depression is a constellation of signs and symptoms that cluster together (e.g., sadness, negative self-concept, sleep and appetite disturbances, loss of pleasure). In its most serious forms, depression is a disabling disorder that is associated with emotional distress, severe social and occupational disruption, increased risk for physical illness and sometimes death. Up to 15% of individuals with severe Major Depressive Disorder die by suicide. Depression is frequently a chronic disorder that can last for months or even years. Nevertheless, it has been proven that most severe depression can be improved with treatment.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicates that more than 19 million adult Americans experience some form of depression each year. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. According to NIMH and the costs associated with depression are more than $30 billion per year.1 Needless to say, depression is one of the most commonly encountered disorders by mental health professionals. Further estimates suggest that by 2010, depression will be the second most costly of all illnesses worldwide—in 1990 it was ranked fourth.2

Major Depressive Disorder is characterized as a period of unhappiness or low morale which lasts longer than several weeks and may include ideation of self-inflicted injury or suicide. Dysthymia, a related disorder, is characterized by depression symptoms that last two years or longer but at a lower severity. Other types of depression including postpartum depression, bipolar depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are treated with different protocols as prescribed by a psychiatrist and/or clinical psychologist.

No amount of data can adequately capture or convey the personal pain and suffering experienced in depression. Yet most depressed people do not get professional help. Depression effects a fairly large number of people—20% of people are impacted but only one-quarter of them seek any type of treatment.3 Even though the vast majority of people recover from depression, they remain vulnerable to future symptoms and depressive episodes. At least 50% of individuals who suffer from one depressive episode will have another within 10 years. Those experiencing two episodes have a 90% chance of suffering a third while individuals with three or more lifetime episodes have relapse rates of 40% within 15 weeks of recovery from an episode.4

Major Depressive disorder is highlighted in this health challenge as it is the most prevalent form of depression. However, many types of depression exist.

Read more about the varied clinical diagnosis of depression: Types of Depression

Read more about Women's Depression

Read more about Men's Depression

Read more about Childhood Depression

Read more about Adolescent Depression

Read more about History of Depression

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