Clinical depression is one of the most common, serious mental health disorders. In the United States, about one in five people will experience, at some time in their life, a persistent, disabling depression with intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity, self-absorption and helplessness that does not let go easily, even when circumstances and relationships improve. It does not respond to simple reassurance or a change of attitude.
Depressive illness can vary from just interfering with usual activities and relationships to being very debilitating. Severe depression can make it hard or even impossible for sufferers to relate to and communicate with others, or to manage simple day to day tasks.
There are a number of causes of depression. It can be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain (endogenous depression); it can be part of an illness such as bipolar disorder; or a reaction to an event such as the death of a spouse or loss of a job (reactive depression).
Often people do not seek help for their depression. They may feel embarrassed, or see it as a sign of weakness or be fearful of stigma. Getting help is important and there is substantial evidence to show that most people who seek help will recover fully, especially if they take action early.
Types of Depression
Treatment can do much to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of depression, and usually includes a combination of the following: