Depression is a common mental disorder that affects an estimated 5% of adults worldwide. It is characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or pleasurable activities. It can also disturb sleep and appetite, cause tiredness and lack of concentration, and dramatically affect a person's ability to function and live a rewarding life. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. The Global Health Data Exchange estimates that between 251 and 310 million people worldwide suffer from depression.
In the United States, an estimated 26% of adults 18 years of age or older (about 1 in 4 adults) have a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, with 9.5% suffering from a depressive illness (major depression, bipolar disorder, or dysthymia). Seasonal pattern depressive disorder (formerly known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD) is a pattern of depressive episodes that occur according to seasonal changes. Depression can lead to more stress and dysfunction, worsen the life situation of the affected person, and even lead to suicide. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends regular depression screenings for all teens 12 and older, since adults, such as parents, teachers, and even doctors, often miss symptoms of depression. Fortunately, depression can be treated. Mental Health GAP (mHGAP), Group Interpersonal Therapy, Healthy Thinking, and other treatments are available.
The SAMHSA National Helpline provides free referrals to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states for those who are uninsured or underinsured. If you have health insurance, contact your insurer for a list of participating providers and healthcare facilities. In addition, DBSA Chapters and Support Groups provide hope, help, support and education to improve the lives of people with mood disorders. The DBSA Peer Specialist Training Program educates peers, friends, and family on how alcohol and drug addiction affects the whole family. It also explains how substance abuse treatment works and how family interventions can be a first step to recovery. If you know someone who is suffering from depression or any other mental health disorder, there are ways you can help.
Listen without judgment, offer emotional support, encourage them to seek professional help, help them find resources such as support groups or online resources, and remind them that recovery is possible.