10 Facts About Depression
By Dr. Prakash Masand
May is Mental Health Month, and a time to bring awareness to the many conditions that make up mental illness. One of the most common is depression. Unfortunately, many people have been misled about the facts of depression from what they’ve seen on TV or in the movies, or have heard about from their friends and others. What are the real facts about depression?
Here are the 10 ten facts that everyone should know about depression:
1. There’s more to depression than just feeling blue. Symptoms include: psychomotor activity changes, trouble sleeping, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, feelings of guilt or hopelessness, decreased energy, trouble concentrating, appetite changes. Some people have suicidal thoughts or try to kill themselves.
2. One in six people will develop major depression in their lifetime. Major depression affects 121 million people worldwide. Two out of three individuals with depression do not receive adequate treatment.
3. Suicide is a major risk. Depressed individuals are five times more likely than those who aren’t depressed to commit suicide. Between 30,000 and 35,000 people in the U.S. commit suicide each year due to depression.
4. Depression doesn’t have to stop you from living if you get help. Some very successful people have had depression including: Billy Joel, Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, J.K. Rowling, Buzz Aldrin, Calvin Coolidge, Eric Clapton, Terry Bradshaw and more.
5. Depression is the leading cause of medical disability for people ages 14 to 44. On average, people who suffer from depression can lose $10,400 per year in income by age 50.
6. One out of 10 new mothers will develop post-partum depression. This is by no means a character flaw or weakness. Symptoms of depression or the “baby blues” can occur in many women, but if they don’t dissipate after two weeks, it could be post-partum depression and you should seek treatment immediately.
7. Women are twice as likely to develop depression as men. Although depression can strike at any age, the average age of onset is 32.
8. Patients with depression are more likely to have heart attacks and strokes compared to non-depressed individuals. If you develop depression after a heart attack, you are four times more likely to die with the greatest risk being in the first six months.
9. One out of 10 adolescents will have a depressive disorder by the age of 18. Compared to adults, children with depression may be more likely to have temper tantrums, social withdrawal and mood changes.
10. The initial antidepressant leads to remission in only one out of three patients with depression. SSRI and SNRI medications take time to work, and a 10 to 12 week trial is necessary to achieve remission. Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are as effective as antidepressants in mild to moderate depression.
Dr. Prakash Masand is a former consulting professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, and a New York City psychiatrist who is president of Global Medical Education.