Depressive Disorders

Women & Depression  |  Men & Depression  | Holiday Depression & Stress | Seasonal Affective Disorder

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

Children's Depression Checklist
Depression and Teens
Depression and African Americans
Depression Older Adults
Depression in the Workplace
Depression and Women
Postpartum Depression
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)