Find Out More About Depression
Q. What is depression?
A. Depression is more than the blues or the blahs; it is more
than the normal, everyday ups and downs. When that "down"
mood, along with other symptoms, lasts for more than a couple
of weeks, the condition may be clinical depression.
Clinical depression is a serious health problem that affects
the total person. In addition to feelings, it can change behavior,
physical health and appearance, academic performance, and
the ability to handle everyday decisions and pressures.
Q. What causes clinical depression?
A. We do not yet know all the causes of depression, but there
seem to be biological and emotional factors that may increase
the likelihood that an individual will develop a depressive
disorder. Research over the past decade strongly suggests
a genetic link to depressive disorders. Bad life experiences
and certain personality patterns such as low self-esteem or
extreme pessimism about can increase chances of becoming depressed.
Q. How common is it?
A. Clinical depression is a lot more common than most people
think. It affects 10 million Americans every year. One-fourth
of all women and one-eigth of all men will suffer at least
one episode or occurrence of depression during their lifetimes.
Approximately three to five percent of the teen population
experiences clinical depression every year. That means among
100 people, four could be clinically depressed.
Q. ls it serious?
A. Depression can be very serious. It has been
linked to poor school performance, alcohol and drug abuse,
and suicide. In the last 25 years, the rate of suicide among
teenagers and young adults has increased dramatically.
Q. Are all depressive disorders alike?
A. There are various forms or types of depression.
Some people ex- perience only one episode of depression
in their whole life, but many have several recurrences. Some
depressive episodes begin suddenly for no apparent reason,
while others can be associated with a life situation. Sometimes
people who are depressed cannot perform even the simplest
daily activities - like getting out of bed or getting dressed;
others go through the motions, but it is clear they are not
acting or thinking as usual. Some people suffer from bipolar
depression in which their moods cycle between two extremes
- from the depths of despair to frenzied heights of activity
or grandiose ideas about their own competence.
Q. Can it be treated?
A. Yes, depression is treatable. Between 80 and
90 percent of people with depression - even the most serious
forms - can be helped. Symptoms can be relieved quickly with
psychological counseling, medication, or a combination of
both. The most important step toward treating depression -
and sometimes the most difficult - is asking for help.
Q. Does talking about depression only makes it worse?
A. Talking through feelings may help a friend recognize the
need for professional help. By showing friendship and
concern, and giving uncritical support, you can encourage
your friend to talk to his or her parents or spouse or another
trusted person, like a professor or clergy about getting treatment.
If your friend is reluctant to ask for help, you can talk
to someone for him or her - that's what a real friend can