Depression is more than just feeling sad. It’s a mental illness that can be tremendously debilitating. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the US, with 7.3 million (or 7.1%) adults suffering from it. While depression is slightly more common in women than men (8.7% versus 5.3%), depression doesn’t discriminate by gender, age, or race.
Symptoms include depressed mood, feeling “numb,” loss of interest in normal activities, trouble eating and sleeping, decreased energy and decreased self-esteem. You are commonly diagnosed with depression if you have experienced these symptoms for two weeks or more. Suicidal ideation or thoughts of self-harm are also possible and may warrant emergency care.
Although someone who lives with depression may feel resistance to the idea, treatment for depression is typically very successful. Certain lifestyle choices like exercising and limiting alcohol intake can be helpful, but usually therapy — possibly in conjunction with medication — is considered most effective. Cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, and interpersonal therapy are among the treatments most commonly used to manage depression.