Depression, in the clinical sense, is a serious debilitating condition marked by intense sadness and feelings of despair that have advanced to the point of being disruptive to an individual’s daily living.
Depression, also known as MDD or major depressive disorder, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities.
“Depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Some people may experience only a single episode within their lifetime, but more often a person may have multiple episodes.” The National Institute of Health
Depression affects roughly 18% of the adult population of the United States on at least one occasion during their lives. People are most likely to suffer their first depressive episode between the ages of 30 and 40 with the average age of onset being 32.
19 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population in a given year, will suffer with major depressive disorder. Nearly twice as many women (12%) as men (7%) are affected by depression each year. These figures translate to 12.4 million women and 6.4 million men in the US.
Major depressive disorder is currently the leading cause of disability in North America, and approximately 4% of depressed people will successfully complete a suicide attempt.
In order to receive a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, a person must have experienced five or more of the following ten symptoms over a period of at least two weeks.
- Do you feel sad or irritable?
- Have you lost interest in activities once enjoyed?
- Have you experienced changes in weight or appetite?
- Have you experienced changes in your sleeping patterns?
- Do you have feelings of guilt?
- Are you unable to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions?
- Have you experienced fatigue or loss of energy?
- Do you get a frightened or panicky feeling for apparently no reason at all?
- Have you had thoughts of suicide or death?
- Do you feel hopeless, or worthless?
If you were able to answer YES to at least five questions then you are probably suffering from clinical depression and should consult your doctor or a mental health professional.
The good news is that over 80% of people diagnosed with depressive disorder respond to antidepressant medication, talk therapy, or a combination of the two.
To take a well-regarded online depression assessment created by Dr. Ivan K. Goldberg in 1993, The Goldberg Depression Inventory.
Source material: APA DSM-IV, NIMH, Psychiatric times, the Philadelphia Examiner