Depression is a major public health problem and a leading predictor of functional disability and mortality. Dr. David Burns, a famous psychiatrist, describes it as the most agonizing suffering any person can experience.
Lifetime prevalence of major depression varies from 3 percent in Japan to 17 percent in the U.S. and it has doubled in the last decade or so. It affects females two times more than males and it is usually less common in older people.
Depression has many contributors. Genetics play a big role, as well as substance abuse, trauma during childhood or adulthood, stressful life events and low social support. It’s the result of a combination of many internal and external factors. Many times adversity will just push it to the surface. It is a relapsing illness in most patients. Following a first episode, there is a greater than 40 percent rate of recurrence over a two-year period; after three episodes, the risk of recurrence is more than 90 percent!
There are specific criteria to diagnose depression and they should be present most of the day nearly every day for a minimum of two consecutive weeks. The most important ones are having a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure. These are usually combined with sleeping or eating problems, agitation or low energy, poor concentration, thoughts of worthlessness or guilt and recurrent thoughts about death or suicide.
The amazing fact is that the relationship between depression and chronic diseases (like diabetes or heart disease) is reciprocal. When depressed all your health outcomes are worse and when you have too many uncontrolled health problems you are more prone to get depression.
Depression can be treated with medications, psychotherapy and lifestyle changes. Please consult with your provider about screening you for it and treating you if needed. There is no excuse that comes to mind to accept suffering when there are ways to help lift these mountains off your shoulders.