<%-- Page Title--%> Health <%-- End Page Title--%>
<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 113 <%-- End Volume Number --%>
July 11, 2003
<%-- Navigation Bar--%>
is an illness that involves feelings of sadness lasting for two weeks
or longer, often accompanied by a loss of interest in life, hopelessness,
and decreased energy. Such distressing feelings can affect one's ability
to perform the usual tasks and activities of daily living. This is considered
to be clinical depression. It is very different from a temporary case
of "the blues" triggered by an unhappy event or stressful
affects the mind, but this doesn't mean "it's all in your head."
Depression is a medical illness linked to changes in the biochemistry
of the brain.
not a weakness of character. Being depressed doesn't mean a person is
inadequate. It means the person has a medical illness that is just as
real as diabetes or ulcers. Like other medical disorders, clinical depression
should not be ignored or dismissed. A clinically depressed person cannot
simply "snap out of it" any more than a person with an ulcer
could simply will it away.
But depression is highly treatable in the vast majority of cases. Up to 90% of depressed people respond positively to treatment. Sometimes psychotherapy or counseling is all that is needed, but there is also a wide array of effective antidepressant medications and alternatives available.
Clinical depression is an umbrella term used to describe the most common forms of depression, which include:
Major depression, also known as melancholia or unipolar depression,
can last up to a year if not treated. A person experiencing an episode
of major depression will experience some physical problems, such as
headaches or digestive upset, in addition to emotional difficulties.
Bipolar disorder, once called manic depression, causes mood swings that
soar to unusual elation, and then plummet to depression. A person with
severe bipolar disorder may also see or hear things that are not there
and experience paranoia (a feeling that they are in danger).
Dysthymia is a chronic (ongoing), low-grade depression. It often begins
in childhood or adolescence and may last for many years in adulthood
if not treated. It is a less severe form of clinical depression, but
at times it can be almost as disabling as major depression.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression thought to be triggered by a decrease in exposure to sunlight. In the Northern Hemisphere, the condition usually occurs in late fall and winter, when daylight hours are short, and it is more common in geographical areas that have four clearly defined seasons.
Facts about depression
It is the most common mental illness, yet fewer than half of depressed
people seek help.
Depression affects one in five people at some point in their life.
It is the leading cause of suicide.
It reportedly afflicts twice as many women as men (although some observers
speculate that this could be because fewer men admit they need treatment).
Depression affects four times as many people over age 65 as those in
other age groups.
Depression has affected countless accomplished people throughout history,
including Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, Peter Tchaikovsky, Charles
Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and Mary Shelley.
- The number of people who experience depression has increased with every generation since World War II.