Though everyone has some ‘down’ days, it is important to distinguish these feelings and depression. Depression is not sadness, grief, disappointment, or frustration.

Depression is characterized by persistent sad or depressed moods, significant changes in sleep and eating patterns, anxiety or restlessness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, irritability, loss of interest in activities that previously were pleasurable, unusual worrying, and significant fatigue/exhaustion, etc. Physical health and depression are interrelated, for example cardiovascular disease can lead to depression and vice versa. People can experience depression for a period of time or episodically.

Depression severity is on a continuum, yet the extremes have different qualities: severely depressed people show more cognitive symptoms such as worthlessness/guilt or suicidality compared to the moderately depressed, and the moderately depressed show more somatic indications, such as depressed mood compared to the severely depressed.

Each person experiences depression differently. Some people experience a few symptoms, some many. About 80% of adults with depression report at least some difficulty with work, home, or social activities because of their depression symptoms. Anxiety, restlessness, or agitation often accompany depression. For other people exhaustion and fatigue are more predominant. Social withdrawal is another common response for those who experience depression. Many people may feel helpless or hopeless. The prevalence of depression in the U.S. is greatest among people aged 18-29 years, followed by those aged 45-64 and women experience depression nearly twice as much as men. There are some familial tendencies toward depression. Some depressions originating from purely psychological causes have neurobiological effects and need medications in order to resume normal functioning, and conversely, some biologically predominantly depressions which have been treated with physical treatments may still require the use of psychological interventions.

Depression is a common mental health problem and is treatable with psychotherapy, family therapy, coping strategies, cognitive-behavioral techniques, and medication.

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