Depressive Disorders

Fact Sheets  Related Articles  Links & Resources 

Women & Depression  |  Men & Depression  | Holiday Depression & Stress | Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Depression is a common, real and treatable illness.

Basic Facts About Clinical Depression

  • Depressive DisordersClinical depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more than 19 million Americans each year. This includes major depressive disorder, manic depression and dysthymia, a milder, longer-lasting form of depression.
  • Depression causes people to lose pleasure from daily life, can complicate other medical conditions, and can even be serious enough to lead to suicide.
  • Depression can occur to anyone, at any age, and to people of any race or ethnic group. 
  • Depression is never a "normal" part of life, no matter what your age, gender or health situation.

Unfortunately, though treatment for depression is almost always successful, fewer than half of those suffering from this illness seek treatment. Too many people resist treatment because they believe depression isn't serious, that they can treat it themselves or that it is a personal weakness rather than a serious medical illness.

Treatments for Clinical Depression

  • Clinical depression is very treatable, with more than 80% of those who seek treatment showing improvement.  
  • The most commonly used treatments are antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. 
  • The choice of treatment depends on the pattern, severity, persistence of depressive symptoms and the history of the illness. 
  • As with many illnesses, early treatment is more effective and helps prevent the likelihood of serious recurrences. 
  • Depression must be treated by a physician or qualified mental health professional.

Symptoms of Clinical Depression

  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood.
  • Sleeping too much or too little, middle of the night or early morning waking.
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain.
  • Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.
  • Restlessness, irritability.
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders).
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisionsFatigue or loss of energyFeeling guilty, hopeless or worthlessThoughts of suicide or death.

If you have five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or more, you could have clinical depression and should see your doctor or a qualified mental health professional for help.

Fact Sheets

Depressive DisordersDepression
Depression (easy to read)
Depression (college series)
Depression and Chidren
Depression and Older Adults
Depression and African Americans
Depression and Suicide in Older Adults
Depression and Women
Post-partum Depression
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Suicide and Depression (college series)
Teens and Depression
Teen Depression and Suicide
What To Do When Depression Enters Your Relationship

Related Articles

CDC: Half of Americans Will Suffer From Mental Health Woes (USA Today, 9/6/11)

Scientists find genetic link to depression 
Scientists say they have discovered the first solid evidence that variations in some peoples' genes may cause depression. And in a rare occurrence in genetic research, a British-led team's finding of a DNA region linked to depression has been replicated by another team from the United States who were studying an entirely separate group of people. (Reuters, 5/16/11)

Links & Resources

Learn more about Women & Depression and Men & Depression >>

Depression in Women During Childbearing Years: Causes, Symptoms, Challenges & Treatment 
During pregnancy and the postpartum period, two notably major life events for women, significant hormonal changes take place that increase vulnerability for depression. At the same time, many women during these periods find themselves in stressful situations exacerbated by the changes in life circumstances inherent with having children. While the vast majority of women adjust successfully to pregnancy and motherhood, some portion of women find the everyday challenges exceedingly difficult to manage. For these women the childbearing years can be the "perfect storm" for major depressive disorder (University of Massachusetts Medical School, Psychiatric Issues Brief, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2011) 

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Radio: Postpartum Depression
NIH audio reports are short-form, news stories that are one to four minutes long. They can be listened to in an MP3 format or read as a transcript. Postpartum depression may be one of the most under-recognized and under-treated disorders. However, it impacts the lives of hundreds of thousands of women. (NIH Radio, 3/8/11)

Depression Often Effectively Treated by Talk Therapy
An analysis of studies that compared interpersonal psychotherapy to other forms of therapy found talk therapy to be equally effective, although the number of studies analyzed was small. (Los Angeles Times, 3/2/11)