According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.8 million American adults suffer from diagnosed clinical depression (9.5% of the adult population). Thirty-five million Americans (more than 16% of the population) suffer from depression severe enough to seek treatment at some time in their lives. People with depression often also experience anxiety. In fact 19.1 million Americans between the ages of 18 to 54 suffer from anxiety disorders, 13.3% of this age group. Please click here to learn more about treatments for anxiety.
In contrast to passing emotional experiences such as sadness and grief, clinical depression is persistent and can interfere significantly with an individual's ability to function. Therefore depression can be a serious medical illness. Depression can effect all areas of a person's everyday life, including family, relationships, friendships, and the ability to work or go to school. Many people still believe that the emotional symptoms caused by depression are "not real," and that a person should be able to shake off the symptoms on their own. Because of these inaccurate beliefs, people with depression either may not recognize that they have a treatable disorder or may be discouraged from seeking or staying in treatment.
Unipolar major depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States and worldwide, affecting nearly 10% of adult Americans in a given year. Nearly twice as many women as men are affected by a depressive illness each year. Symptoms of depression may include sad mood, loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed, change in appetite or weight, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, physical slowing or agitation, energy loss, feelings of inappropriate guilt, difficulty thinking or concentrating, and recurrent thoughts of worthlessness, death or suicide. A diagnosis of unipolar major depression (or major depressive disorder) is made if a person has five or more of these symptoms and difficulty in usual functioning nearly every day during the same two-week period. Major depression often occurs between the ages 15-30 or even earlier.
Since there may be other scientific evidence that is not reported in the major U.S. biomedical databases, the list of treatments below cannot be considered comprehensive.