It’s normal for people to sometimes feel sad, disappointed or disheartened, especially when they experience low points in their life. However, these “blues” usually go away when any happy circumstances occur.
But in some people, this low mood becomes persistent and lasts a long time for weeks, months or even years. And if it comes with other hallmark symptoms, such as lack of interest in enjoyable activities, a feeling of hopelessness or thoughts about self-harm or even suicide, then watch out: You may be suffering from depression.
The Mayo Clinic defines depression, also called clinical depression or major depressive disorder (MDD), as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” This debilitating condition affects you entirely — how you behave, think and feel — and paves the way for emotional and physical problems to arise. Depressed individuals usually struggle with completing their day-to-day tasks, feeling as if there’s no more point in living.1
According to the Australian nonprofit organization Beyond Blue, there are different subtypes of depression depending on the symptoms, the intensity, and their triggers. Some of the most common ones include manic depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or “the winter blues” and antepartum and postpartum depression (occurs specifically in pregnant women and new mothers).
Depression is a widespread global problem, with over 300 million people dealing with this severe mood disorder today. Even in developed, industrialized countries, depression is rampant. In fact, in the United States, between 2013 and 2016, 8.1 % of Americans who were 20 years old and older suffered from depression in a given two-week period.
This Disorder Is Now a Prevalent Problem
Depression is not a simple condition that you can “snap out of.” If not addressed immediately, it can damage your physical health, leading to low immunity and worsened pain, or worse, substance abuse. According to a study published in Current Opinion in Psychiatry, up to 33 percent of people suffering from clinical depression are prone to drug or alcohol problems.
Even more alarming is the link between depression and suicide. According to the American Association of Suicidology, depression is the psychiatric diagnosis that is most commonly linked to suicide. It’s said that 30% to 70% percent of people who commit suicide suffer from major depression or bipolar disorder.
Keep an Eye Out for the Signs
Depression does not discriminate between gender, race or social status. Anyone can be predisposed to it. Given its potentially dangerous effects, it’s only wise to take the necessary precautions to address and treat this disorder before it spirals out of control. But a word to the wise: Antidepressants and other medications are NOT the best solution for depression, and may even have more debilitating and long-term side effects.