To commemorate Mental Illness Awareness Week, TFI Talks is focusing on the definitions, symptoms, diagnoses and treatment of a variety of mental illnesses. Today’s post focuses on Depression.
Everyone feels sadness at one time or another. It is a natural response that helps us cope with change and loss. However, when these symptoms are persistent or have an adverse effect on daily living, they may represent a more serious condition, such as an anxiety disorder or depression.
Depression is unlike the normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or passing mood states; it’s a serious mental illness that effects mood, thought, body and behavior. It is persistent and can interfere significantly with an individual’s ability to function at work or at home, with friends or with family. It’s more than the blues, yet many still view it as “personal weakness” or a “character flaw.”
Major Depressive Disorder often begins between ages 15-30 or even earlier. Some people have one episode in a lifetime; others have recurrent episodes. For some, depression is a chronic illness. A less severe type of depression, Dysthymia, involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia may also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.
Other Facts about Depression
- Depression may be associated with life events such as significant losses (spouses, children, jobs) or major financial difficulties.
- Personality factors such as undue dependency and low self-esteem may also be associated with a vulnerability to depression.
- There’s an increased risk for developing depression when there is a family history of these illnesses. Where a genetic vulnerability exists, onset probably results from a combination of vulnerability and life experience.
- Depression often co-occurs with medical, psychiatric, and substance abuse disorders. When this happens, the presence of both illnesses is frequently unrecognized and may lead to serious and unnecessary consequences for clients and families.
*Statistic provided by the National Alliance on Mental Health