10 Facts About Depression
- Depression is the type of mental illness that causes people to feel sad for long periods of time, generally more than two weeks. People who feel depressed often describe feeling sad, empty, or irritated.
- Experiencing depression can cause people to withdraw from others in their lives such as their family, friends, or partners. Many people who have depression have a hard time in school or work. They miss assignments, can’t concentrate on their work, or feel overwhelmed by activities. This can lead to missing school or work.
- If you’ve lost a loved one or are grieving a change in your life, you can feel sad, but it might not be depression unless it doesn’t get better after a long period of time (more than two months).
- No one knows exactly what causes depression, but it can occur for a variety of reasons. Susceptibility can be passed on in families through genes, but this does not mean that a person who has a family member with depression will have the same experience. The cause is complex and likely a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. What we do know is that it is not a character flaw or caused by personal weakness.
- No matter what the cause, mental illness is not something one can just “snap out of.” There are many treatments for depression, including but not limited to medications and therapy. Good nutrition, regular exercise, adequate sleep, supportive friends, and meaningful paid or volunteer activities contribute to overall health and wellness as well.
- Depression is not reserved for adults. In fact, one-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; three quarters by the age of 24.
- Although depression is treatable, many people wait years before they get help; often delaying as many as six to eight years after the first symptoms occur. As is the case with any illness, it is essential to not delay getting help. There are many local resources that can help!
- Men get depressed too, but when experiencing symptoms of depression, including feeling tired, irritable, angry, discouraged, or disinterested, a man will usually do one of these things before he gets help: (1) Deny to himself and everyone else that he has a problem; (2) Turn to drugs or alcohol; (3) Throw himself into work; and/ or (4) Act out with hostility or aggression, or by doing something self-destructive.
- Depression in older adults may look different from what we expect. Older adults are more likely to appear irritable than sad, and to complain about physical ailments that their doctor can’t find a reason for. They may see themselves as a burden, no longer useful, and be reluctant to ask a loved one for help; therefore, it is important to recognize signs of depression, reach out to make a connection, and offer support.
- The most important fact to remember is that depression is treatable, recovery is possible, and help is available. Learn about symptoms, treatment options, and local resources at Up2SD.org. Information courtesy of Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
ManTherapy.org: An information-rich website with a humorous approach to men’s mental health. Men can take the 20 Point Head Inspection to get a rundown of how they excel and where they can improve their mental health. Up2SD.org/Men: For information and local resources specifically for men.