At Rio Vista Behavioral Health, we believe education is an important first step in the effort to heal from depression. Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of depression can help you get the right type and level of care for yourself or a loved one.
Learn about depression
Depression is a general term that can refer to a variety of mental health conditions that are known clinically as depressive disorders. Depression is typically characterized by symptoms such as overwhelming sadness, diminished energy, pervasive feelings of hopelessness, and related challenges.
Two of the most common forms of depression are major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder. The main differences between these types of depression are the severity and duration of symptoms.
In all cases, it is important to understand that depression is much more serious than temporary sadness or a passing case of the blues. Without proper care, symptoms of depression can be devastating. However, depression is a treatable condition. When you get effective professional treatment for depression, you can experience a significant increase in the substance and quality of your life.
Statistics about depression
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) have reported the following statistics about depression in the United States:
- About 16.2 million adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and above, experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2016.
- From 2004 to 2015, the percentage of adolescents who experienced at least one episode of major depression rose from 9% to 12.5%.
- In 2016, about 19.4% of adolescent girls and 6.4% of adolescent boys experienced at least one major depressive episode.
- About 1.3% of adults will develop persistent depressive disorder in their life.
- According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), more than 49% of people who have persistent depressive disorder experience serious impairment.
Causes & Risk Factors
Causes and risk factors for depression
There is no single definitive cause for depressive disorders. In many cases, multiple influences can combine to increase your risk for depression. The following are among the more common causes and risk factors for depression:
- Being female (depression is more common among girls and women than among boys and men)
- Having a parent or sibling who has struggled with depression or other types of mental illness
- Personal history of mental illness or addiction
- Experiencing abuse, neglect, or other types of childhood adversity
- Having a disabling or chronic medical condition
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of depression
Depression involves much more than sadness. People who develop a depressive disorder may experience a variety of symptoms and exhibit a wide range of signs, including the following:
- Withdrawing from friends and/or family members
- Frequently talking about death or dying
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Giving away important possessions (this can indicate that the person is thinking about suicide, which can be a symptom of depression)
- Apparent loss of interest in activities or topics that were once of great importance
- Fatigue, lethargy, or persistent lack of energy
- Altered sleep patterns (including both insomnia and hypersomnia)
- Changes in appetite, and resultant weight gain or loss
- Frequent headaches and stomachaches
- Sexual dysfunction
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Significant mood swings
- Indecisiveness or poor decision-making skills
- Diminished self-esteem
- Poor sense of self-confidence
- Pervasive sense of helplessness or futility
- Recurring thoughts of death or dying
- Suicidal ideation
Effects of depression
Untreated depression can have a detrimental impact on virtually all areas of your life. The following are examples of the negative outcomes that you may experience if you fail to get effective professional treatment for depression:
- Family discord
- Strained or ruined friendships
- Substandard performance in school or at work
- Academic failure
- Job loss and chronic unemployment
- Financial problems
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Health problems due to personal neglect
- Onset or worsening of other mental health disorders
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Suicidal thoughts
- Suicidal behaviors
Please note that, when you get proper professional care, effects such as the ones listed above can be avoided. If you’ve already experienced damage, it can be repaired. When you enter a treatment program for depression, you can put yourself on the path towards a much healthier and more hopeful future.
Common co-occurring disorders among people who struggle with depression
If you’ve struggled with depression, you may also have an elevated risk for developing certain other mental health disorders, including the following:
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Borderline personality disorder
- Substance use disorders (the clinical term for addiction)