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Depression is one of the most common psychological problems, affecting nearly everyone through either personal experience or through depression in a family member. Each year over 17 million American adults experience a period of clinical depression. The cost in human suffering cannot be estimated. Depression can interfere with normal functioning, and frequently causes problems with work, social and family adjustment. It causes pain and suffering not only to those who have a disorder, but also to those who care about them. Serious depression can destroy family life as well as the life of the depressed person.

Impact of Depression:

  • Causes tremendous emotional pain
  • Disrupts the lives of millions of people
  • Adversely affects the lives of families and friends
  • Reduces work productivity and absenteeism
  • Has a significant negative impact on the economy, costing an estimated $44 billion a year

Depression and bipolar depression are presented separately on this website because of the unique problems encountered with bipolar disorder. Individuals interested in information about bipolar disorder should also review the information on depression, as bipolar disorder usually includes depressive episodes as well.  Bipolar disorder was formerly called manic-depressive disorder.  It is a type of depression, and it characterized by the presence of mood swings, especially "manic highs" that often result in high risk, self-damaging behavior. Most individuals with bipolar disorder have both depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes.

Depression is a psychological condition that changes how you think and feel, and also affects your social behavior and sense of physical well-being. We have all felt sad at one time or another, but that is not depression. Sometimes we feel tired from working hard, or discouraged when faced with serious problems. This too, is not depression. These feelings usually pass within a few days or weeks, once we adjust to the stress. But, if these feelings linger, intensify, and begin to interfere with work, school or family responsibilities, it may be depression.

Depression can affect anyone. Once identified, most people diagnosed with depression are successfully treated. Unfortunately, depression is not always diagnosed, because many of the symptoms mimic physical illness, such as sleep and appetite disturbances. Recognizing depression is the first step in treating it.

Nearly two-thirds of depressed people do not get proper treatment:

  • The symptoms are not recognized as depression.
  • Depressed people are seen as weak or lazy.
  • Social stigma causes people to avoid needed treatment.
  • The symptoms are so disabling that the people affected cannot reach out for help. 
  • Many symptoms are misdiagnosed as physical problems
  • Individual symptoms are treated, rather than the underlying cause.

Clinical depression is a very common psychological problem, and most people never seek proper treatment, or seek treatment but they are misdiagnosed with physical illness. This is extremely unfortunate because, with proper treatment, nearly 80% of those with depression can make significant improvement in their mood and life adjustment.


Psychology Information Online - Depression Information:

Thanks and acknowledgment to The National Institute of Mental Health which was a resource for information on this topic.