Depression graphic by David Baldinger
Photo credit: D. Baldinger CC ND

May is Mental Health Month

 

Dr. Prakash Masand, former consulting professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, a New York City psychiatrist. and President of Global Medical Education sent us this list of important things to know about depression [my comments are in brackets/italics]:

 

 1.  There’s more to depression than just feeling blue.

Symptoms include: psychomotor activity changes, trouble sleeping, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, feelings of guilt or hopelessness, decreased energy, trouble concentrating, appetite changes, and some people have suicidal thoughts or attempts. [A few more symptoms appear on this Mayo Clinic list.]

 

2.  One in six people will develop major depression in their lifetime.

Major depression affects 121 million people worldwide. Two out of three individuals with depression do not receive adequate treatment

 

3.   Depressed individuals are five times more likely to commit suicide and 35,000 people commit suicide each year due to depression.

[Firearms suicides account for nearly half of all suicides.  In states where gun ownership is prevalent, rates of suicide are higher.   Gunshot wounds to the head are catastrophic and even if the individual survives a firearms suicide attempt, the physical results are often devastating.]

 

4.Depression doesn’t have to stop you from living if you get help.

Some very successful people have had depression including: Billy Joel, Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, J.K. Rowling, Buzz Aldrin, Calvin Coolidge, Eric Clapton, Terry Bradshaw and more. [One of my favorite authors, Pat Conroy – “Prince of Tides,” “The Great Santini” and more- battled depression most of his life.]

 

5.  Depression is the leading cause of medical disability for people ages 14 to 44.

On average, people who suffer from depression can lose $10,400 per year in income by age 50. [Depression is also a leading cause of lost workplace productivity.]

 

6.  One out of 10 new mothers will develop post-partum depression.

This is by no means a character flaw or weakness.  Symptoms of depression or the “Baby blues” can occur in many women, but if they don’t dissipate after two weeks, it could be post-partum depression and you should seek treatment immediately. [Here is a link to an abstract describing a recent review of the course of post-partum depression.]

 

7.  Women are twice as likely to develop depression as men, and although depression can strike at any age, the average age of onset is 32.

 

8. Patients with depression are more likely to have heart attacks and strokes compared to non-depressed individuals.

If you develop depression after a heart attack, you are four times more likely to die with the greatest risk being in the first six months.  [Here is a succinct review of the relationship between heart disease and depression from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)]

9.  One out of 10 adolescents will have a depressive disorder by the age of 18.

Compared to adults, children with depression may be more likely to present with temper tantrums, somatic complaints, social withdrawal and mood lability.

 

10. The initial antidepressant leads to remission in only one out of three patients with depression.

SSRI and SNRI medications take time to work, and a 10 to 12 week trial is necessary to achieve remission.  Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are as efficacious as antidepressants in mild to moderate depression.

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