Depression is a serious illness which can last for years, but which can be successfully treated with the help of a health professional. Even though it can be treated, only one in three gets help because the symptoms are not recognized, are blamed on personal weakness, are so disabling that people are not able to get help, or are misdiagnosed or inappropriately treated.
Did you know?
About 5 - 10% of the population will experience depression every year and it has been described as "the most common disease seen in all of medicine". . Depression affects twice an many women as men. With treatment, 80% of those in depression, even the most severe forms, can improve significantly. Symptoms can be relieved, usually in a matter of weeks.
What Depression Is:
  • Depression is an illness, in the same way that diabetes or heart disease are illnesses.
  • Depression is an illness that affects the entire body, not just the mind.
  • Depression is a major factor in alcoholism, drug abuse and other addictions.
  • Depression is an equal-opportunity illness - it affects all ages, all races, all economic groups and both genders.
  • Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.
  • Depression is second only to heart disease in causing lost work days in America.

What Depression Is Not:

  • Depression is not something to be ashamed of.
  • Depression is not the same thing as feeling "blue" or "down."
  • Depression is not a character flaw or the sign of a weak personality.
  • Depression is not a "mood" someone can "snap out of." (Would you ask someone to "snap out of" diabetes?)
  • Depression is not fully recognized as an illness by most health care insurance providers. Most will only pay 50% of treatment costs for out-patient care, as well as limiting the number of visits.
How Depression May Feel...

The following list was compiled by Deborah Deren who gave permission to publish it. The list is by no means scientific or complete. If you have concerns, see your doctor.

  • Things just seem "off" or "wrong."
  • You don't feel hopeful or happy about anything in your life.
  • You're crying a lot, either at nothing, or something that normally would be insignificant.
  • You feel like you're moving (and thinking) in slow motion.
  • Getting up in the morning requires a lot of effort.
  • Carrying on a normal conversation is a struggle. You can't seem to express yourself.
  • Smiling feels stiff and awkward. It's like your smiling muscles are frozen.
  • It seems like there's a glass wall between you and the rest of the world.
  • You're forgetful, and it's very difficult to concentrate on anything.
  • You're anxious and worried a lot.
  • You have a feeling of impending doom - you think something bad is going to happen, although you may not be sure what.
  • In your perception of the world around you, it's always cloudy. Even on sunny days, it seems cloudy and gray.
  • You feel as though you're drowning or suffocating.
  • You're agitated, jumpy and anxious much of the time.
  • Your senses seem dulled; food tastes bland and uninteresting.
How It May Affect Your Life...
  • Your place is a mess; laundry and dishes are piled up, mail is unopened, etc. (Assuming you usually stay on top of these things).
  • You've been making excuses to friends why you can't get together with them, or you're telling them you're "just too tired."
  • You've really let yourself go - you're wearing clothes that make you look dumpy, you've stopped exercising.
  • You're putting off things that need to be done: your car registration, taking that book back to the library, buying a birthday present for someone.
  • You can't remember the last time you laughed a real laugh.
  • You don't feel like you can handle your job anymore, even though nothing has changed so far as increased workload or responsibility.
  • You've been to the doctor a lot recently, for things like headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, but the doctor can't find anything wrong.
  • You wake up in the middle of the night, and can't go back to sleep. During the day you sleep a lot to escape from your life.
  • It takes you a whole weekend to do chores that used to take a morning.
  • You have no ability to imagine or conceive of your life even a few days ahead - no plans; no hopes.
  • You've lost interest in sex or even physical affection.
  • Not only is maintaining a normal conversation difficult, you are sure someone will notice something is wrong with you.

For more information, contact:

Your doctor

Your school / university / private practice counsellor

The Mental Health Unit at the hospital