Depression is a mood disorder that reduces the ability to think clearly, feel pleasure, express love, perform on the job and maintain good health. Although this disorder begins in the mind, the consequences of depressed mood radiate outward, affecting all areas of mental, physical and social life.
Although all of us feel down sometimes, for most of us, these feelings tend to pass relatively quickly. People with depression feel down for most of each day, for weeks, months or even years on end.
Millions of Americans suffer with one of many forms of depression. Some get effective treatment and recover quickly; many never receive a diagnosis or treatment, and so struggle with depressive symptoms for years.
Different Types of Depression
While many people know about "major depression" there are actually a number of depressive illnesses, such as:
- Major Depression – A serious form of depression that causes pervasive depressive symptoms for most of each day, for 2 or more consecutive weeks.
- Atypical Depression – Similar to major depression with one distinction; people with atypical depression can enjoy transient pleasurable activities (such as going out socially with friends), while people with major depression generally cannot.
- Dysthymia - A long lasting chronic form of milder depression. Many people experience this vastly under-diagnosed condition for years or even decades.
- Postpartum Depression – A period of depression that occurs after giving birth (not the very commonly experienced, "baby blues").
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – A cyclical form of depression that emerges with the changing of the seasons, most commonly beginning in late fall and ending in spring. Many believe that SAD is caused by variable sunlight levels over the course of a year.
- Bipolar Disorder – Characterized by a cycling between states of depression and states of mania.
Although people may rarely speak of mental illness in the family, depression affects many of us.
Between 16 and 20 million Americans experience major depression during any given year, 3.3 million experience dysthymia and 5.7 million experience bipolar disorder.
Although first line treatments for depression can cause symptoms betterment in about two thirds of people, only a fraction of people with depressive illnesses receive appropriate care.
Page last updated Aug 05, 2010