10 facts about depression
How often have you heard someone describe themselves as “depressed” about something? Even though most people are probably unaware of what true depression feels like, it’s usual to use that word when individuals are down and out about something.
It’s one thing to be upset about a ding in your car or a loss in a softball game, but it’s quite another to be depressed. Genuine depression does not go after a week or two. It seldom goes away, and sufferers can only hope that treatment will bring them some respite.
Being profoundly depressed means living without hope, and it can lead to very dark places, such as suicidal thoughts.
Anxiety and depression
Feelings of anxiety that are prolonged can very easily lead to depression. Anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand, and constant fear and worry (anxiety) can wear a person’s mental defenses down over time. This makes it easy for depression to creep up without notice until it has a firm grasp, and manifests as full-blown clinical depression.
Women at risk
For reasons that are not well understood, women are twice as likely to suffer with depression than men. Experts believe it may have to do with differences in hormones between men and women, and that the higher levels of estrogen that are present in a woman’s system may be a factor. Estrogen may have an effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain that makes the female brain more vulnerable to depression.
Number of sufferers
In the United States alone, nearly 10 percent of the adult population deals with some type of depression-related disorder every year. A number of conditions are included in this group, including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depression), and dysthymic disorder. Up to 30 percent of women may be suffering from some form of depression, and although the numbers were always thought to be significantly lower for men, new research suggests that the number of men suffering from depression may be much higher.
It is estimated that up to 80 percent of people suffering from depression are not receiving treatment. It’s understandable that some people do not believe that popping pills is the answer, but there are many other treatment options available. Therapy is one option, and lifestyle changes can also help to banish depression. There are many other alternative treatments that reportedly work for many people, including simple things like exercise, diet changes, vitamins and other supplements, herbal treatments, and even acupuncture. Depression should never be left untreated.
Link to other health problems
Experts believe that depression will take the second spot behind heart disease as the number one cause of death in the U.S. by the year 2020. Medical research studies have shown that depression is a major risk factor for heart attack. And the link seems to work both ways, since people who have suffered a heart attack or have had heart surgery are at higher risk for depression.
It’s getting worse
The average age of people who begin to experience depression is dropping. Today, the average age for people who first begin to experience depression is between 24 and 34 years of age. In addition, those who were born in the years following World War II, the “Baby Boomers,” are experiencing an ever-increasing lifetime risk of falling victim to some form of depression.
While it’s clear that the misery and loss of life that often results from depression outweighs any financial consequences, depression does have a significant negative impact on the economy. In the United States, depression is estimated to cost approximately $44 billion per year. Up $12 billion is spent on treatment, as much as $24 billion is due to people who miss work or whose job performance suffers due to depression, and $8 billion as a result of premature death.
The major risk factors for depression include heredity, physical, mental, and sexual abuse, some types of medication, a major loss such as death of a family member of friend, chronic physical illness, and conflict with family members or close friends. There are new potential causes being discovered which suggest that medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes may contribute to the risk of depression. Brain scans of elderly people suffering from depression revealed damage that was caused by these health problems may have contributed to their condition.
It can be seasonal
Many people living in colder climates do not look forward to the onset of winter. While it may be a bit of an inconvenience or annoyance for many, those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, may be facing months of painful depression as the winter months approach. Experts believe that lack of light due to shorter days may have a lot to do with SAD, and could be tied in with reduced vitamin D levels in the body, since exposure to sunlight is an important way for the body to manufacture this essential vitamin.
Medication side effects
It seems as though we are living in the era of the pill. The numbers of people that are taking prescription medications for various diseases and ailments has skyrocketed in recent decades. While these medications might make life a lot more bearable for people, or even extend their life, some medications do come with a risk of triggering depression. Among them are medications such as bronchodilators, anti-anxiety medications, stimulants, sleeping pills, corticosteroids, oral contraceptives, acne medications, blood pressure medications, and heart medications. It is important to note that not every drug that is a member of one of these classes places someone at risk for depression, and that potential side effects are provided along with every prescription medication that is prescribed.