There are many myths about clinical depression. According to one myth, depression is normal â€” merely a case of “the blues” or “mood swings” that will go away on their own. Many also believe that depression symptoms are normal for older adults, especially after a life partner has died and as medical issues increase.
While itÃ•s true that everyone experiences sadness and mood swings with life’s ups and downs, depression at any age is more than sadness. It is a medical condition, with specific, persistent symptoms. Luckily, depression statistics show that a number of effective depression treatments may help.
What Is Depression?
What is depression, exactly? Depression symptoms are very different from sporadic blue days or mood swings. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, common depression symptoms include:
- Body aches and pains that don’t respond to treatment
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions
- Extreme increases or decreases in appetite
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or hopelessness
- Irritability and/or mood swings
- Loss of interest in previously-pleasurable activities
- Persistent sad or “empty” feelings
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Who is depressed? Anyone who experiences at least five of these symptoms every day for at least two weeks. Normal sadness or mood swings may last two months or more, but there are periods of happiness and normal functioning along with these emotions.
On the other hand, depression is unrelenting and may cause a major loss of normal functioning until the individual seeks depression treatment.
So, who is depressed? According to depression statistics reported by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, roughly 6.7 percent of the U.S. adult population (aged 18 and older) experience depression symptoms each year. It is more prevalent in women than men, and can happen to anyone at any age, though the average age of a depression patient is 33.
Here are some more depression statistics regarding who is depressed:
- About 6 million older adults (only 10 percent receive treatment)
- One in 33 children
- One in 8 teenagers
- Roughly 58 percent of adults caring for an elderly or disabled relative.
Dispelling the Myth: Depression Is Normal
No matter what your age, depression is not normal. Individuals who experience depression symptoms have the option of treatment. In fact, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance estimates that 80 percent of patients who seek treatment begin to experience relief of depression symptoms within four to six weeks. Depression patients donÃ•t have to “just live with it” or suffer in silence.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Staff. (2009). Who is affected by depression? Retrieved May 7, 2010, from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance website: www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_statistics_depression.
National Institute of Mental Health Staff. (2009). What are the signs and symptoms of depression? Retrieved May 7, 2010, from the National Institute of Mental Health website: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/what-are-the-signs-and-symptoms-of-depression.shtml.