What is depression?
Depression is an illness. It is a mental illness. It is a problem that affects mental health (just like a broken leg affects physical health). Because people cannot see mental illness, it is very often difficult to be accepted as such. Depression also affects the mind, body and soul and influences every aspect of your life, including thoughts, feelings, behaviour, relationships and physical health.
It is also a treatable illness. Most people with depression make a full recovery and go on to live full and productive lives.
Health professionals use the terms ‘depression’, ‘depressive illness’ or ‘clinical depression’ to refer to something very different from the common experience of feeling miserable.
Most people, children as well as adults, feel low or `blue’ occasionally. Feeling sad is a normal reaction to experiences that are stressful or upsetting.
When these feelings go on and on, or dominate and interfere with your whole life, it can become an illness. This illness is called `depression’. People of all ages, genders, ethnicities, cultures, and religions can suffer from depression. While clinical depression is common, it is frequently unrecognized and untreated.
1 in 5 people become depressed at some point in their lives. Depression affects 2 in every 100 children under 12 years old, and 5 in every 100 teenagers.
Depression has nothing to do with ‘weakness’ and there does not seem to be any particular type of person who is more prone to the disorder. The word ‘depression’ is used to cover a very wide range of problems, from short periods of low mood to a lifetime of mind-numbing inability to function. The great majority of cases that involve low mood will sort themselves out and do not require medical intervention. However, at any one time, between 5% and 10% of the population are suffering from depression at a level that needs support, and it is likely that 20% of us will have a depressive episode of some kind during our lifetime.
It is likely that about half the people with clinical depression will also have another mental health problem, such as an anxiety disorder. Those suffered by children and adolescents might be in the area of behavioral or attention difficulties.
Depression strikes in several forms. When a psychiatrist makes a diagnosis of a patient’s depressive illness, he or she may use a number of terms—such as bipolar, clinical, endogenous, major, melancholic, seasonal affective or unipolar—to describe it. These labels confuse many people who don’t understand that they can overlap. People with depressive illness may also receive more than one diagnosis since the illness is often linked with other problems, such as alcoholism or other substance abuses, eating disorders, or anxiety disorders.
Are you depressed?
We all feel fed up sometimes but these feelings usually last for a couple of days or weeks at the most. Perhaps you have been feeling like this for longer.
We have designed a test to give you some indication.