Depression is a mood disorder that affects the way an individual thinks, feels and conducts their daily activities. Many people with depression experience a sad or “empty” mood, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities that ordinarily give them a sense of pleasure, and/or decreased energy and fatigue. There are many different causes of depression. Some individuals may develop depression due to stressful life events or genetic vulnerability while others may develop it for no identifiable reason.
Approximately 1 in 6 people will experience depression at some point in their lives. Though depression is most common in adults, it often first emerges during an individual’s late teen years to their mid-20s. There are various treatment options that range from clinical approaches like medication and counseling to lifestyle changes like regular exercise and a healthy diet. Many people with depression have also found that being open to receiving support and communicating about their illness can provide some degree of relief.
Depression varies widely in form and severity and affects every individual differently. It can cause changes in appetite, sleep behaviors, bodily aches and pains and increase thoughts of death or suicide. Many describe depression as feeling stuck in a “fog” where movements become slow and uncoordinated and thoughts become incoherent and fuzzy, making it difficult to concentrate or remember things. Others experience more restlessness or irritability.
A variety of nonprofits and organizations exist to raise awareness about depression and suicide prevention. These organizations aim to provide support and counseling to those who are struggling with mental health related issues. In addition, crisis centers are available by text or call if you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide.