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“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.” – Stephen Fry

Many people see depression as a simple thing. You’re either sad or you’re not. Even worse, some people think you can just “get over it.” But those who suffer from depression know it’s not that simple. Depression is a complex, changing thing that may not be fully understood, even by those who have it.

Here are a few facts about depression.


40. A Rose by Any Other Name…

Though the term “depression” is now most commonly used to describe major depressive disorders, for most of history it was called “melancholia.” “Depression” wasn’t used until the 17th century.

Depression Facts

39. The Effects are Devastating

Untreated, undiagnosed depression is the number one cause of suicide in the United States. In the U.S. alone nearly 45,000 people commit suicide every year, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the country. Among people aged 20-30, it’s the 3rd leading cause.

Depression Facts

38. The Four Humors

The Ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates believed all illnesses, including mental illnesses, were caused by imbalances in the body’s “four humors”: yellow bile, black bile, phlegm, and blood.

Depression Facts

37. It’s a Sad World

Depression is a common mental disorder and, globally, more that 300 million people of all ages suffer from some form of depression.

Depression Facts

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36. SOS

Approximately 80% of sufferers of depression are not receiving treatment.

Depression Facts

35. More than just “Down in the Dumps”

What we usually call depression is usually one of several different major depressive disorders, which are not the same as just “being sad.” Someone who is depressed will experience feelings of hopelessness and despair that can last for weeks or even longer. These feelings can negatively affect every area of someone’s life, leaving them feeling like there’s no way out.

Depression Facts

34. Growing Pains

Over 8% of adolescents in the United States suffer from depression at a given time.

Depression Facts

33. Blame Facebook

The age at which depression typically hits is getting younger and younger. Today, the average age for the onset of depression is between 24 and 35 years of age, with a mean age of 27.

Depression Facts

32. Suffering for Their Art

Depression seems to affect many creative individuals including Ludwig van Beethoven, John Lennon, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, and Sylvia Plath.

Depression Facts

31. Gender Inequality

Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. This may be due in part to estrogen, which alters the activity of neurotransmitters that contribute to depression.

Depression Facts

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30. Mars vs. Venus

Men and women experience depression differently. Women may feel hopelessness and look for someone to listen to them and men may feel irritable, become socially withdrawn, and become violent or abusive.

Depression Facts

29. Midlife Crisis

Middle-aged men often experience late onset depression as they get older. It’s been suggested that this might be due to a decrease in testosterone levels.

Depression Facts

28. Snap Out of It

Stigma and misinformation lead many people to not take depression seriously. Depression isn’t the same as a bout of the blues, it doesn’t mean that someone is weak, and it often requires medical intervention to treat. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

27. After Birth

Postpartum depression affects about 10% of new mothers.

Depression Facts

26. It’s Sad Being Premature

Depressed women are more likely to give birth early, increasing health risks for both the mother and the baby. Between 14 and 23% of pregnant women experience some sort of depressive disorder.

Depression Facts

25. Be More Shellfish

Eating seafood rich in omega-3 may help pregnant women with depression.

Depression Facts

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24. Not All Love Songs

Many musicians have written songs about their experiences with depression. Some famous examples include “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails, “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M., “Adam’s Song” by Blink-182, and “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey.

Depression Facts

23. A Magical Metaphor

J.K. Rowling reportedly based the Dementors, the horrifying cloaked creatures from the Harry Potter series, on her own experience with depression. Dementors are said to suck all the warmth and happiness out of any wizard within 100 metres. These iconic creatures are considered by many to be an amazing metaphor for the despair and hopelessness that comes along with depression.

Depression Facts

22. Depressident of the United States

Abraham Lincoln fell into a deep depression after his first love, Ann Rutledge, died. He reportedly suffered from chronic depression his entire life. Unfortunately, trying to distract himself by going to the theater didn’t help.

Depression Facts

21. (Maybe Don’t) Get Me a Drink

A bottle of beer or a glass of wine might help you unwind after a hard day, but in the long-term, alcoholism is associated with depression. This might be partly because chronic heavy drinking can kill neurotransmitters that are important for good mental health.

Depression Facts

20. Blame Your Parents

Genetic predisposition to depression is a possible explanation for why one person may suffer from depression while another doesn’t.

Depression Facts

19. Doublemint Bummed

Identical twins who have the exact same genes will both develop depression about 30% of the time.

Depression Facts

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18. Going Green

Though medical marijuana has been used to treat anxiety, research on marijuana and depression is still in its early stages. It isn’t yet clear if smoking medicinal marijuana helps with depression, if it makes it worse, or neither.

Depression Facts

17. Laughter is the Best Medicine

Research suggests that depression can shorten the life of cancer patients by years. As if the cancer wasn’t bad enough. Unfortunately, people who suffer from chronic diseases are more likely to suffer from depression and vice versa. There is a strong correlation between depression and other diseases like stroke and heart disease, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, epilepsy, diabetes, AIDS and cancer.

Depression Facts

16. This is Your Brain on Sadness

A depressed brain looks different than a non-depressed brain. When a person is depressed, imaging has shown that the structures and brain circuits are different.

Depression Facts

 

15. With a Creamy Sad Filling

People who are depressed don’t always look depressed. People might seem upbeat and cheerful on the outside, but are constantly in pain on the inside. Robin Williams was a prime example.

Depression Facts

14. Turn up the Heat

According to a study by researchers at the University of Arizona, warming someone up might be able to help people who suffer from severe depression. The study found that increasing someone’s core body temperature could potentially have antidepressant effects.

Depression Facts

13. Mind Over Body

Depression can affect the body in other ways, such has headaches, stomach problems, shortness of breath, and general tension.

Depression Facts

12. Gut Feeling

There is some evidence that depression can be the result of a complex relationship between “gut” bacteria, the brain, and the central nervous system. Probiotics and prebiotics may play a role in depression management.

Depression Facts

11. Sleep No More

People with depression are five times more likely to have a breathing-related sleep disorder.

Depression Facts

10. A Vicious Circle

Depressed people often don’t have the energy to interact with others, so they withdraw from social situations as much as possible. Also, when they do get out they’re often not fun to be with. This only makes the problem worse, because social interaction can help make depressed people feel better, and isolation often only makes them feel even more depressed.

Depression Facts

9. Antidepressants Aren’t Necessarily a Quick Fix

Though there are many drugs that have proven to be helpful in treating depression, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be that simple. Different patients respond differently to certain drugs, and antidepressants are only one of many treatment options. Often, a combination of treatments is the best way to help someone who’s depressed.

Depression Facts

8. Origin Story

Depression can be biochemical or situational. If it’s situational, counseling with friends or professionals can help. If it’s biochemical, medication and therapy might be necessary.

Depression Facts

7. Winter is Coming

People who suffer from depression may experience more cognitive impairment on less sunny days than on sunny days. Seasonable affective disorder (SAD) is the term for depressive periods related to a change of season. SAD is four times more common in women than in men.

Depression Facts

6. Walk it Off

Exercise is a cheap cure for depression. Just walking for thirty minutes can be enough to alleviate symptoms. For this reason, many therapists go for walks with their clients instead of having them lie on the couch.

Depression Facts

5. Getting Fixed

Therapy can take on many forms, including psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. That last one sounds pretty attractive.

Depression Facts

4. Sympathy for the Devil

Unsurprisingly, depression was not well understood before the 20th century. It was acknowledged as far back as 2000 BC by the Ancient Mesopotamians, but they believed that all mental illnesses were the result of demonic possessions. In fact, as late as the 19th century, depression was believed to be caused by demonic possession, and priests would actually force depressed people to undergo exorcisms.

Depression Facts

3. Eastern Medicine

The idea that mental illness was caused by demonic possession persisted in Europe for centuries. In contrast, Persian doctors in Baghdad in the 9th and 10th centuries AD understood that the cause of depression and other mental disorders lay in the brain. They prescribed hydrotherapy and behaviour therapy as treatment—no doubt a lot more pleasant than the exorcisms happening in Europe.

Depression Facts

2. Depression can be Costly

Depression is the second biggest cause of missed work in the U.S. Depressed people are also usually less productive when they do make it to work. The World Health Organization estimates that the lack of recognition and care for depression and anxiety will lead to a global economic loss of a trillion U.S. dollars every year. That is $1,000,000,000,000!

Depression Facts

1. Lots of Ways to Find Help

If you’re feeling depressed, there are many ways for you to find the help you need. Whether it is a friend, a family member, a doctor, a teacher, a mental health hotline or another service, simply talking about it is often the first step towards recovering. No one should have to deal with depression alone, and there are always ways to find the help and to start feeling better.

Depression Facts

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

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