Depression explained

Sadness is inevitable, but varies in severity and consistency. Not everyone experiences “feelings of severe despondency and dejection.” Not everyone suffers from “prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells.” Not everyone is depressed.

According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), approximately one in every 33 children in the US suffers from clinical depression, and for adolescents that number rises to one in eight. Between six and seven percent of American adults—around 14.8 million people aged 18 or older—are victims of the illness. In a given age group, about twice as many women are depressed as men.

Depression comes in many forms, each one painful and difficult to endure in its own respect. For instance, “recurrent episodes of major depression” describes unipolar depression. When depression takes on a chronic and less intense form, it is called dysthymia. Those two types of depression are not mutually exclusive: double depression occurs when people are chronically depressed, and undergo especially intensive episodes.

No matter what, depression is always a mental illness, and never a character flaw. There is a common misconception that depression is at the discretion of its victims—that if only they tried harder to be happy, the illness and all of its harrowing symptoms would go away. In fact, depression is the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. It is precisely the opposite of controllable.

That being said, it is a treatable illness. Given the right resources and outlets, studies have shown that improvement is possible. According to Healthline, between 60 and 80 percent of depression cases “can be effectively treated with brief, structured forms of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication.”

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