5 Fast Facts About Depression

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  • Everyone goes through periods of feeling down in the dumps. But clinical depression is a serious mental health condition that doesn’t clear up on its own and can cause devastating effects for those who have it. Many times, depression masquerades as some other condition, which can cause delays in seeking diagnosis or treatment. Learn how to identify depression in yourself or a family member and expand your understanding of this health condition with these five fast facts about depression.

  • 1
    Not just a middle-aged woman’s condition, depression affects men and young adults, too.
    Despondent man

    Around 1 in 14 Americans—or 16 million people—report having experienced at least one serious depressive episode in the past year. And while women are 70% more likely to experience depression than men, depression leads to suicide in men more often than in women. In terms of age groups, depression can affect people of all ages, but young adults between 18 and 25 are more likely to develop depression than adults over age 50.

  • 2
    Depression looks different in different people.
    Diverse group

    The signs and symptoms of depression vary among different groups. Women with depression tend to describe feeling sad, worthless or guilty. Men often express depression as irritability, anger or extreme tiredness. Depression symptoms can be subtle in older adults, who may feel reticent about expressing sadness. And teens or older children with depression might exhibit signs of other conditions, like eating disorders or substance abuse. Because the face of depression can vary widely among groups, it’s important to seek professional care instead of trying to self-diagnose.

  • 3
    There are many different types of depression.
    Pensive pregnant woman holding stomach looking away

    Depression is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis. In fact, there are at least five different types of depression recognized as distinct disorders. The two most common forms of depression are major depressive disorder (feeling very depressed every day) and persistent depressive disorder (episodes of depression that alternate with periods of feeling less depressed). However, perinatal depression, which causes a mother to feel sad or hopeless during or after pregnancy, and seasonal affective disorder, in which a person feels depressed during the dark days of winter, are two other recognized forms of depression.

  • 4
    People cannot just “get over” their depression.
    Melancholic man

    Many people believe depression is caused by a poor attitude toward life circumstances and that the person with depression should “just get over it.” Going bankrupt, losing your job, or getting a divorce all can trigger a major depressive episode, and it often takes more than having a “good attitude” toward life’s curveballs to overcome depression. As a chronic disease, depression requires a solid treatment plan that may include medications or psychotherapy, along with emotional and practical support from family members and friends.

  • 5
    Self-care really can improve depression symptoms.

    One of the great conundrums of depression is that exercise is known to improve symptoms, but a depressed person finds it hard to get motivated to exercise. While exercise and even just exposure to fresh air and sunshine have been proven to alleviate depression symptoms, other self-care strategies may help, too. For example, you might try eating foods known to stimulate the brain to release dopamine, such as green leafy vegetables. Meditation or prayer can focus your mind and help manage your stress levels. Finally, alternative therapies like massage or acupuncture can complement your medical treatment plan. Always talk to your doctor before starting any new therapy for depression.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Jul 20

  1. Infographics and fact sheets. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/Depression-FS.pdf

  2. Depression basics. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml#pub1

  3. By the numbers: men and depression. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/12/numbers.aspx

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