Mental health conditions can be extremely challenging, and depression is no exception. In fact, it’s one of the most common mental health conditions. About one in five adults experiences depression in any given year. Unfortunately, many people who have it don’t seek help—and that’s a problem. Untreated depression has serious side effects and can lead to suicide or other dangerous behaviors. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, these seven things will help you understand what it is, the different types of depression, risk factors for developing it, potential treatments, and how to get help.
What is depression?
Depression is a mental health condition that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and a loss of interest in things you once enjoyed. You may also have changes in appetite, sleep, and energy levels. Depression can be a one-time thing (sometimes called a “depression episode”) or a longer-lasting problem. If you have depression for longer than two weeks, you may be diagnosed with major depressive disorder (also called “clinical depression”). Depression is a very common mental health condition. In fact, it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide. That’s because it affects more people than all other mental health conditions combined. In the United States alone, more than 16 million people are affected by depression each year. And the numbers are staggering: One in five people will experience depression in their lifetime, and one in 10 will have it in any given year. Women are twice as likely as men to have depression. It also tends to run in families, which suggests that genes might play a role in its occurrence.
What are the different types of depression?
There are many different types of depression, and not all of them are caused by the same things.
Some of the more common types include:
Risk factors for developing depression
There are several risk factors that may make you more likely to develop depression. These include: - Having a history of depression. If you’ve had depression before, you’re more likely to get it again. - Having a family history of depression. If you have a parent or sibling with the condition, you’re more likely to develop it, too.
Treatments for depression
The options for treating depression depend on the cause, severity, and length of the condition. The goal of treatment is to ease symptoms and help people feel better.
Treatment options include:
How to get help for depression
If you think you might be depressed, you should talk to a doctor. They can help you figure out if you have depression and, if so, how to best treat it. They can also make sure that any other conditions, such as a medical illness or side effect from a medication, aren’t contributing to your symptoms. If you suspect someone you know has depression, you should be extra careful not to dismiss it as “just a bad day”. Be supportive, encourage them to get help, and remind them that depression is nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t make them feel worse by saying things like, “Snap out of it,” or “You don’t seem that sad.” Depression is a real condition that can be treated with therapy and/or medication. Although it may not go away completely, it can be managed so that you can get back to living a full and happy life.
If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, there’s no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. While depression is a very common mental health condition, many people are hesitant to talk about it. This is because there is still a stigma surrounding mental health conditions and mental healthcare. If you’re hesitant to talk about your feelings with family, friends, and doctors, remember that you aren’t alone. Millions of people deal with depression every year.