You’ve heard it all before; “depression isn’t real.”, “just be happy”, and “you have no reason to be depressed.” Regardless of many people’s beliefs, depression is a mental illness that might be cause by the lack of activity of neural circuits in the brain, but nonetheless affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide to this day (See Fig. 1 to the right).
Many symptoms of depression might include fatigue, weight loss, persistent sad or an empty feeling, worthlessness, appetite/weight changes, suicidal thoughts, and chronic pain/digestive problems (NIH, 2016). Although these symptoms are not experienced by everyone who may suffer from depression, these are a few of the consistent ones seen in people who suffer from depression. If you experience one or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks, you should definitely see a doctor and maybe get some help on how to control it, which might include taking an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), and going to see a counselor. Anxiety (increased worry and fear) is also a mood disorder that is usually paired with depression and can start at any age in someone’s life, usually starting in adolescence or occurs in adults.
A person is more susceptible to developing depression if they already take medications that may cause depression, if they have a family history of depression, or they are at a point in their life in which they are under a great amount of stress or experience a trauma within their life. These would include incidents such as finals, a divorce, or a death in the family. Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for ages 15-44 and around 7% of the United States suffers from MDD. Worldwide, 350 million suffer from depression (WHO, 2015), and these are only the people who have been diagnosed with a Major Depression by their doctor or ones that are seeking help in managing their depression.
Considering that so many people suffer from depression daily worldwide, it is important that people understand the statistics and realize how important it is to bring about awareness and break the stigma that is associated with the mood disorder. While many people do get help in managing their depression or their anxiety, it is also important that others feel safe or comfortable in admitting that they are depressed and are not too ashamed of having a disorder that might prevent them from getting the help that they need before it’s too late. This blog aims to raise awareness and educate people that may be suffering from depression, so that they may know that there are many resources that are available to them so that they can be helped in the management of it.
Throughout this blog, you will see a series of four posts (including this one), on topics that are about and/or related to depression and anxiety and medications for these illnesses, the stigma that is related to them, research that has been done recently at UNC (University of North Carolina), and looking to the future and what it has in store when it comes to research on depression and anti-depressants.