Depression is a serious but treatable medical illness that affects how you feel, think and act. Each year it affects more than 17 million Americans, and the majority of people who receive treatment for depression experience significant improvement with treatment. It is the third leading cause of death of 15-35 year olds.
Unfortunately, many people do not recognize themselves as being depressed, or they may fear the reactions of family, friends and co-workers if they seek treatment. Because of this, they experience problems at home, work and school and continue to suffer unnecessarily.
Treatment for depression may involve medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both—and most people respond well to treatment. Anti-depressant medication is not habit-forming, does not have a stimulating effect on people who are experiencing depression, and generally takes full effect within three to six weeks. If psychotherapy is the treatment of choice, it may involve only the individual patient or include others with similar problems in a group environment.
There are clear links between depression and suicide. Important risk factors for suicide include the presence of mental illness—especially depression, conduct disorders, alcohol and drug use, a previous suicide attempt, the suicide of a family member, and the availability of firearms. More men than women commit suicide.
Although most suicidal persons give warning signs of their suicidal intentions, others are often unaware of the significance of these warnings, or they are unsure what to do about them.
Additional information about depression may be found on our Web-based Resources page.