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Overview of Depression

An episode of Depression is more than simply a regular period of sadness or stress. It is an illness with physical and psychological symptoms and represents a state of intense psychological suffering. People who are depressed find it quite difficult to function at their full potential in their life roles such as school or work, to remain invested in their relationships, or to derive pleasure from their usual activities.  In severe cases, Depression can even lead to suicide.

Major Depression and other Depressive Disorders, such as Dysthymia, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Postpartum Depression, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and Minor Depression, are among the most prevalent disorders in society; 25% of all women and 15% of all men will suffer from a Depressive Disorder in their lifetime [ref].  In Western developed nations, Depression ranks second, only after heart disease, as the greatest cause of disability, and in the world it ranks fourth [ref].  Depression also represents a tremendous economic cost to individuals and society [ref].     

Some people will experience only one episode of Depression in their lifetime, but in many cases Depressive Episodes tend to recur over a lifetime (see Course).  This condition can affect people at any age. Effective treatments exist for Depression, including psychotherapy and medications.


Major Depressive Disorder