Depression is among the most common mood disorders affecting adults in the United States. The National Institute of Mental Health states that Major Depressive Disorder affects nearly 7% of the U.S. adult population in any given year. The majority of us have most likely known someone who does or has suffered from depression. It is important to distinguish the difference between normal occasional unhappiness and clinical depression.

It is perfectly common to feel down at times, especially in today’s increasingly complex society. Managing a job, household, personal and professional relationships, and other everyday responsibilities can take a toll on all us. Lack of sleep, stress, and overindulgence in food and alcohol can compound these feelings; however, the majority of us, see the light at the end of the tunnel and return to normal.

Depression is not as forgiving and its symptoms are far more difficult to handle and can lasts for months if left untreated. Creating awareness about the tell-tale signs of depression can help you identifying depression in yourself and others. Although depression is the most common mental health condition, it is also one of the most treatable disorders according to the American Psychological Association.

Suffering from a mental health disorder such as depression also puts people at higher risk for developing other issues such as anxiety, substance abuse, social isolation, physical illness, and suicide. Women are more likely to experience a depressive episode than men.

Is it depression or just another bad day?

There are three major types of depression.

  • Major Depression is the most common type of depression and interferes with the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities
  • Dysthymia is a less common and severe type of long-term depression
  • Bipolar is the least common type of depression and its symptoms include dramatic changes in moods and feelings

Common Symptoms of Depression:

  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Loss of interest or motivation
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Indecisiveness
  • Decreased concentration
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Physical Symptoms of Depression:

  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Muscle pains and aches
  • Headaches
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Crying

Common Causes of Depression

  • Death of a loved one
  • Life transition such as job loss or divorce
  • Substance abuse
  • Biological factors

Experiencing symptoms such as these for more than two weeks is a strong indicator of depression. Depression interferes with the ability to carry out normal activities in both personal and professional lives. In many cases, psychotherapy or counseling is a safe and effective treatment option to reduce symptoms of depression. In extreme cases of depression, a combination of medication and counseling may be necessary.