Depression: Understanding the Disorder


Because depression is often hidden deep within an individual, it is hard to comprehend for those without it. The disorder is frightfully common and frightfully misunderstood – especially in older adults. The following are a few facts about depression that should help those suffering from the disease and those trying to support them to better understand its nature.

·      Depression is most prevalent in people between middle age and early old age, or between 45 and 64 years old. Almost 5 percent of people in this age group suffer from depression.

·      About 9 percent of all Americans suffer from some form of depression. About 3 percent of adults are diagnosed with major depression, which is long lasting and severe.

·      Women are roughly 70 percent more likely to suffer from depression than men. Women are also more likely than men to be diagnosed, because many men suffering from depression will not ask for help. Therefore, there may be more men suffering from depression than we realize, but they simply try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.depression

·      Depression comes in many forms. Dysthymia is mild depression that can last for 2 years or more, postpartum depression occurs in up to 15 percent of women shortly after childbirth, and seasonal affective disorder only causes depression during certain times of the year – typically in winter. Bipolar disorder causes a person to alternate between a state of depression and a state of manic energy and excitability and is present in over 2 percent of adults. The most serious type of depression is psychotic depression, which may include hallucinations and delusions.

·      Depression often occurs in concert with other disorders and illnesses. Over 40 percent of PTSD sufferers also have depression, and 25 percent of cancer patients experience depression during their illness. As many as 75 percent of people with an eating disorder have depression.

·      When depression is caused by an illness or injury, the depression can often interfere with the healing process, especially with the elderly.

·      Depression is involved in more than two-thirds of all suicides that happen every year in the U.S., contributing to more than 20,000 deaths.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, they need your support and your help to deal with it. They may never be free from their problems, but they can learn to deal with them in positive ways that prevent them from becoming another statistic. If you are feeling depressed, there are a number of mental health hotlines and emergency numbers to call, including Preferred Home Health at (317) 245-7236.