What is Depression?

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 ten 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 productivity due to symptoms that sap energy, affect work habits, cause problems with concentration, memory, and decision making. (The Wall Street Journal, 2001; National Institute of Mental Health, 1999)

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