Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States.  It is estimated that 1 in 10 people over the age of 18 have a form of depression, totaling over 15 million people in the U.S.

What is Depression?

Depression is classified as a prolonged sadness in which a person can have intense sadness, and/or feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless.  Many people have feelings of sadness and it is normal to feel sad or down after a challenging life event, so understanding whether someone is depressed or temporarily sad can be difficult.  Generally speaking, a two-week period or longer of severe sadness or having a difficult time finding enjoyment in things that once brought them joy and happiness is an indication that someone may be depressed.

Who does Depression Affect?

Depression can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities.
Numbers collected over a 12-month period in which an individual had a major depressive episode

Gender

Male – 5.1%
Female – 8.1% (Women are 70% more likely to have a major depressive episode than men during their lifetime.)

Age

13-18 – 3.3%
18-25 – 8.7%
26-49 – 7.6%
50+ – 5.1%

Ethnicity

White – 7.3%
African American – 4.6%
Hispanic – 5.8%
Asian – 4.0%
Native American or Alaska Native – 8.9%

Depression in Women

While there are many similarities among people affected by depression, there are some significant differences between women and men when it comes to depression.  Female specific depression conditions include premenstrual problems, pregnancy and infertility, postpartum depression, and menopause.

To complicate matters, women often experience what is termed atypical depression.  This means that instead of sleeping less, women sleep more, instead of eating less, women eat more.

Depression in Men

Men are often times less open to seeking help for depression or admitting to being depressed.  This is primarily due to the when a man seeks help for depression, it has been considered as a weakness in the past.  When diagnosing or looking for symptoms of depression in men, it is important to know that not all signs and symptoms are the same as common depression symptoms.  For example, instead of feeling sad for an extended period of time, men often get angry and irritable for an extended duration.  Instead of using friends and food for support, men often turn to TV, alcohol, and sports to self medicate.

Depression in Teens

During the teenage years, there are a number of changes that teens must cope with and adapt to. These changes can include; social pressures, puberty, and trying to find out who they are and where they fit into society.   When looking for signs of depression in teens, it’s important to know they also have a unique set of signs and symptoms.  While prolonged sadness is common among most people who are depressed, teens are more likely to show anger, aggressiveness, and hostility.  Teens who are depressed sometimes deal with these pressures by running away, starting to use drugs and alcohol, participating in reckless behavior, and sometimes violence.

Depression in Seniors

As adults move into their senior years, there are many changes seniors experience in which many of them are not prepared for.  Through some of these changes, it’s not uncommon for a senior to experience a major depressive episode.  Common changes among seniors that can lead to depression include retirement, loss of loved ones and friends, medical problems, and isolation.   Some of the common signs and symptoms of depression in seniors include; sadness, fatigue, weight loss or loss of appetite, social withdrawal, loss of self worth, sleep problems, and suicidal thoughts or attempts.

What Causes Depression?

Depression is generally a combination of environmental, genetic, biological, and psychological factors.

Depressive episodes can be caused by situational occurrences such as a loss of a loved one, relationship problems, divorce, loss of a job, personal trauma, social pressures, and other instances that can affect a person’s overall well being.

While depression is often times genetic, it can also happen to those who have no family history of depression.  As noted above, the causes of depression can vary by gender and age.

Common Depression Symptoms

  • Extended periods of sadness (over 2 weeks)
  • Cannot find happiness in things that once brought one joy, including sex
  • Loss of appetite or over eating
  • Thoughts or attempts of suicide
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Pessimistic thoughts or feelings of hopelessness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Decreased energy or fatigue

How to Treat Depression

After being diagnosed with depression, a combination of psychological sessions / treatments and medication is a common when treating people for depression. Unlike other illnesses that can be treated with a single surgery or prescribed medication, changes in life choices and therapy are both instrumental in treatment and recovery.

At Strategic Behavioral Health, patients are first evaluated and if depression is diagnosed, we then with work with the patient and involved parties to come up with a personalized treatment plan for recovery.