Depression is a physical, emotional and a social
experience. Although sometimes the source is not
immediately obvious, depressive symptoms are often a
normal reaction to challenging situations in our
lives. These can include changes and losses, such as a
death, a divorce or separation, a new medical
diagnosis, or even the loss of a job, a change in
career, or the birth of a child.
Depression is not just "in your mind." As much as 85%
of physician visits are for problems that have a
significant psychological and/or behavioral component,
such as chronic illnesses. For example, research has
shown a connection between depression and osteoporosis
and even cancer (Stress Found to Weaken Resistance to
Illness Washington Post, Dec. 22, 2003).
Depression is common. Major depressive disorder
affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or
about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and
older, in a given year. (Archives of General
Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27).
- 4 Depression
is not the same as sadness. While people with
depression often also experience deep, and sometimes
seemingly unending sadness, experiences such as
numbness or emptiness, physical pain, difficulty
concentrating, sleep disturbances, and unexplained
weight loss/gain may also be part of the picture.
People suffering from depression sometimes find it
difficult to engage in activities they previously
enjoyed, or feel distant or unmotivated from
significant others in their lives.
- 4 Depression
can come about as a reaction to a life circumstance,
but for some it appears to come out of the blue.
Patients may say that they shouldn't be feeling this
way since everything is really alright.
What is depression like?
- 4 There
are as many different ways of having depression as
there are people who are experiencing it, however,
some things patients describe are:
- 4 Feeling
as though activities you once enjoyed are no longer
appealing. In fact, every day activities can feel
draining. Trying to do even simple things can feel
like slogging through deep mud. While it doesn't feel
as though there is any energy left, patients often
keep trying, and then feel frustrated when they do.
- 4 Its
frustrating to hear friends, family and partners try
to say "just think positively." If depression could
just be "thought away," it would. Positive words often
just make people feel worse. Just being there in a
supportive way is often more helpful.
Depression can affect your emotions - some experience
guilt, shame, anger and frustration, sadness and
anxiety. It can also affect your body. For some, it
comes along with aches and pains, insomnia or
hypersomnia (sleeping too little or too much), weight
gain/loss, stomach cramps, or difficulty
Depression and your health
Thoughts, attitudes, and emotions can accelerate the
onset of heart disease, as well as get in the way of
taking positive steps to improve one’s health.
(American Psychological Association, 2004)
Individuals with diabetes are twice as likely as
individuals without diabetes to have serious
psychological distress (McVeight, et al, 2003).
Depression is prevalent in approximately 20% of cancer
patients and may impede treatment and recovery.
Children and caregivers of cancer patients may also
suffer with depression (NIH, 2009).
- 4 A study
of patients with heart disease found that
psychological interventions can reduce the risk of
further cardiac events by 75% compared to those given
only medical care and medication (Sobel, 2000).
Attitudes towards depression
- 4 Eighty-eight
percent (88%) of the public, in a national survey,
believe that mental health services should be
available to everyone and that their health care
system should treat the entire person including one’s
mental well-being. (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 1999).
- 4 Ninety
percent (90%) of those surveyed believe that good
psychological health plays a role in maintaining good
physical health (Penn & Schoen poll, May 1995).
- 4 The
provision of psychological services to high frequency
Medicaid users resulted in a 36% reduction in their
Medicaid utilization after one year (Pallak, et al.,
As cited by the American Psychological Association