What is Depression?
Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Depression can occur at any time, but on average, symptoms tend to first appear during the late teens to mid-20’s. Approximately 1 out of every 6 adults will have depression at some time in their life. Depression has no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries and affects nearly 16 million American adults every year and more than 264 million people globally.
While the exact cause of depression is not known, the leading scientific theory is that it is caused by an imbalance of the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that send signals between brain cells. Depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological, and biological factors. In addition, individuals who have gone through adverse life events such as unemployment, bereavement, or psychological trauma, are more likely to develop symptoms of depression.
Depression may cause some individuals to think about hurting themselves or committing suicide. According to the CDC, in 2018, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 48,000 individuals. Globally, nearly 800,000 individuals die from suicide each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds.
Symptoms of Depression
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite – weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movement or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observed by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide