What is Depression?

Man Walking Alone on Beach

Clinical depression is a serious medical illness. It involves disturbances in mood, concentration, activity level, interests, appetite, social behavior and physical health. People who are depressed have trouble with daily life for weeks at a time.

Depression is a mental illness that needs to be treated. Although depression is treatable, oftentimes it is a lifelong condition with periods of wellness alternating with depressive recurrences.

Depression is common. It affects nearly one in 10 adults each year – and nearly twice as many women as men. It is not unusual for individuals to have depression along with another physical ailment or illness. In fact, this occurs in 80% of all depressed people: one out of four cancer patients experience depression; one in three heart attack survivors are depressed as are one-third of those with HIV.

Depression’s annual toll on businesses in the United States amounts to about $83 billion in medical expenditures, lost productivity and other costs. Depression costs employers over $44 billion in lost productivity every year, 81% due to poorer on-the-job performance due to symptoms that sap energy, affect work habits, cause problems with concentration, memory, and decision making. (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, JAMA)

A doctor can diagnose depression with a physical examination, a complete medical history, a thorough review of symptoms and a mental status exam.