264 million people
264 million people worldwide live with depression.* Our World Data
In 2017, around 17.3 million adults age 18 or older in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year (6.7% of adults in the U.S.).* (National Institute of Mental Health)
Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, going through a divorce, and other difficult situations can lead a person to feel sad, lonely and scared. These feelings are normal reactions to life's stressors. Most people feel low and sad at times. However, in the case of individuals who are diagnosed with depression as a psychiatric disorder, the manifestations of the low mood are much more severe and they tend to persist.
Depression occurs more often in women than men. Some differences in the manner in which the depressed mood manifests have been found based on sex and age. In men it manifests often as tiredness, irritability and anger. They may show more reckless behavior and abuse drugs and alcohol. They also tend to not recognize that they are depressed and fail to seek help. In women depression tends to manifest as sadness, worthlessness, and guilt. In younger children depression is more likely to manifest as school refusal, anxiety when separated from parents, and worry about parents dying. Depressed teenagers tend to be irritable, sulky, and get into trouble in school. They also frequently have co-morbid anxiety, eating disorders, or substance abuse. In older adults depression may manifest more subtly as they tend to be less likely to admit to feelings of sadness or grief and medical illnesses which are more common in this population also contributes or causes the depression.
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There are different types of depressive disorders, and while there are many similarities among them, each depressive disorder has its own unique set of symptoms.
The most commonly diagnosed form of depression is Major Depressive Disorder. In 2017, around 17.3 million aged 18 years or older in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, which represented 6.7 percent of all American adults. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States among people ages 15-44. View the SAMSHA website for statistics from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Major depression is characterized by having at least five nine common symptoms. One of the symptoms must be either an overwhelming feeling of sadness or a loss of interest and pleasure in most usual activities. The other symptoms that are associated with major depression include decrease or increase in appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation or retardation, constant fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or excessive and inappropriate guilt, recurrent thoughts of death and suicidal ideation with or without specific plans for committing suicide, and cognitive difficulties, such as, diminished ability to think, concentrate and take decisions. The symptoms must persist for two weeks or longer and represent a significant change from previous functioning. Social, occupational, educational, or other important functioning are impacted by major depressive disorder. For instance, the person may start missing work or school, or stop going to classes or their usual social activities.
Another type of depression is called Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia). The essential feature of this mood disorder is a low, dark or sad mood that is persistently present for most of the day and on most days, for at least 2 years (children and adolescents may experience predominantly irritability and the mood persist for at least 1 year). For the individual to receive the diagnosis of persistent depressive disorder they should also have two of the diagnostic symptoms which include poor appetite or overeating, insomnia or hypersomnia, low energy or fatigue, low self-esteem, poor concentration, difficulty making decisions, or feelings of hopelessness. During this period, any symptom-free intervals last no longer than two months. The symptoms are not as severe as with major depression. Major depression may precede persistent depressive disorder, and major depressive episodes may also occur during persistent depressive disorder.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is another manifestation of depression which is a severe and sometimes disabling extension of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Although regular PMS and Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) both have physical and emotional symptoms, the mood changes in PMDD are much more severe and can disrupt social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning. In both PMDD and PMS, symptoms usually begin seven to 10 days before the start of a menstrual period and continue for the first few days of the period. Both PMDD and PMS may also cause breast tenderness, bloating, fatigue, and changes in sleep and eating habits. PMDD is characterized by emotional and behavioral symptoms that are more severe, such as sadness or hopelessness, anxiety or tension, extreme moodiness, irritability or anger.
Some medical conditions can trigger depressive symptoms in individuals. This is called depressive disorder due to another medical condition. Endocrine and reproductive system disorders are commonly associated with depressive symptoms. For example, people with low levels of the thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) often experience fatigue, weight gain, irritability, memory loss, and low mood. When the hypothyroidism is treated it usually reduces the depression. Cushing's syndrome is another hormonal disorder caused by high levels of the hormone cortisol which can also cause depressive symptoms. Other conditions that have been found to cause depression include conditions such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, strokes, Parkinson’s disease etc.
Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood is diagnosed when symptoms of depression are triggered within 3 months of onset of a stressor. The stressor usually involves a change of some kind in the life of the individual which he/she finds stressful. Sometimes the stressor can even be a positive event such as a new job, marriage, or baby which is nevertheless stressful for the individual. The distress is typically out of proportion to the expected reaction and the symptoms cause significant distress and impairment in functioning. The symptoms typically resolve within 6 months when the person begins to cope and adapt to the stressor, or when the stressor is removed. Treatment tends to be time limited and relatively simple since some additional support during the stressful period helps the person recover and adapt.
Another type of depression is related to changes in the length of days or seasonality. This type of depression is called Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). People with SAD suffer the symptoms of a Major Depressive Disorder only during a specific time of year, usually winter. This appears to be related to the shorter days of winter, and the lack of sunlight in many parts of the country.
Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Not the Same
Depression and anxiety disorders are different, but people with depression often experience symptoms similar to those of an anxiety disorder, such as nervousness, irritability, and problems sleeping and concentrating. But each disorder has its own causes and its own emotional and behavioral symptoms.
Many people who develop depression have a history of an anxiety disorder earlier in life. There is no evidence one disorder causes the other, but there is clear evidence that many people suffer from both disorders.
Sleep and Anxiety and Depression
1. NIMH: Depression Basics
2. View the NIMH website for statistics from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
3. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
4. Sadock, B. J., Sadock, V. A., & Ruiz, P. (2009). Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry (Ninth edition.) Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
- Depression Across the Lifespan: Depression—and its Treatments—are Different for Each Life Stage - ADAA Blog Post by Executive Director Susan Gurley
- What is Depression? How Can We Overcome It? - ADAA blog post
- Is My Child Depressed? - ADAA blog post
- Depression: How to Recognize it and How to Treat it - ADAA free public webinar
- Can Yoga Help with Depression? What Does the Research Say? - ADAA free public webinar
- Depresión y ansiedad en niños/Anxiety and Depression in Children - Spanish psychoeducational video - ADAA free public webinar
- Depresión/Depression - ADAA free public webinar
- Depression Among College Students - ADAA free public webinar
- Depression and Heart Disease: Chicken and the Egg, and What You Can Do - ADAA free public webinar
- For My Anxiety or Depression: Should I Use Medication or Therapy? - ADAA free public webinar
- How to Help Depressed and Suicidal Teenagers - ADAA free public webinar
- Asking Your Pharmacist About Medications for Anxiety and Depression - ADAA free public webinar
- Anxiety, Depression, and the LGBTQ Community: Thriving Through the Challenges - ADAA free public webinar
- Exercise Against Anxiety and Depression - ADAA free public webinar
- Our Kids: Anxiety and Depression - ADAA free public webinar
- Treatments for Anxious and Depressed Kids and Teens - ADAA free public webinar
- Bullying, Anxiety, and Depression - ADAA free public webinar
- What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and How Is It Used to Treat Anxiety and Depression? - ADAA free public webinar
- Depression: What You Need to Know About Medications - ADAA free public webinar
- Genetics of Depression and Anxiety: What Do Clinicians Need to Know? - ADAA professional webinar
- Mindfulness Over Matter: Integrating Mindfulness Into the Treatment of Depression - Presented in Partnership with The Child Mind Institute - ADAA professional webinar
- Management of Treatment Resistant Depression - ADAA professional webinar
- Introduction to the Magic of CBT for Anxiety, OCD, and Depression - ADAA professional webinar
- Psychotherapy for GAD and Comorbid Major Depression - ADAA professional webinar
- Childhood Depression - ADAA blog post
- Watch, Ask and Listen: How to Tell if Your Child or Teen is Anxious or Depressed - ADAA blog post
- How Do You Talk to Your Loved One Suffering With Depression? - ADAA blog post
- Revolutionizing Depression Treatment with Digital Therapeutics - ADAA blog post
- Dealing with Valentine's Day Depression - ADAA blog post
- Criticism: Depression and Anxiety - ADAA blog post
- Can CBD Help with My Anxiety and Depression - ADAA blog post
- Influences of Cultural Differences in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Anxiety and Depression - ADAA blog post
- Revolutionizing Depression Treatment with Digital Therapeutics - ADAA blog post
- Heart Disease and Depression Often Go Hand in Hand: WomenHeart Can Help - ADAA blog post
- Depression Among College Students - ADAA blog post
- Anxiety and Depression in Sexual and Gender Minority Individuals - ADAA blog post
- Dr. Chris’s Techniques For Lessening Anxiety And Depression - ADAA blog post
- Seniors Coping with Anxiety and Depression - ADAA blog post
- Depression and Daily Life - ADAA blog post
- Alleviating Anxiety, Stress and Depression with the Pet Effect - ADAA blog post
- What is Depression and How Do I Know If I Have It? - ADAA blog post
- Depression Treatment – It Works - ADAA blog post
- Understanding Anxiety and Depression for LGBTQ People - ADAA blog post
- What Is Major Depressive Disorder?, ADAA President Charles Nemeroff, MD, PhD
- What to Expect From Therapy for Depression—and How to Start the Process, Self Magazine
- Some of the best books about depression in 2021, Medical News Today
- BlueCross BlueShield
- Child Mind Insititute
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Depression Stories on The Mighty
- Disability Benefits
- Faster and Easier Approaches for Improving Patients' Depression Treatment Outcomes, CareForYourMind.org, ADAA Member Michael Thase, MD
- Hope for Depression Research Foundation
- I Had a Black Dog, His Name Was Depression
- Let's Talk About Depression, HealthCentral.com (Jan/Feb 2020) - Series of articles about the signs, types, and treatment for depression disorders, with ADAA CMO and Board Member Dr. Charles Nemeroff.
- Major Depression: The Impact on Overall Health
- National Institute of Mental Health
- World Health Organization
- Tips for How to Explain Depression So Other People Understand, Healthline, ADAA Member David Rosmarin, PhD, ABPP