Introduction and Prevalence
Depression is a common and debilitating yet treatable illness. It presents with depressed mood and disturbances in sleep, appetite, and energy levels among other characteristics. Approximately one in 10 U.S. adults report depression amounting to 14.8 million American adults or about six percent of the population. In addition, The World Health Organization (WHO) reported depression as the leading cause of disability and fourth leading contributor to the global burden of disease. Depression is a major public health problem as it increases an individual’s risk for a surplus of chronic health conditions. Thus, a reduction in the prevalence and increased treatment for individuals with depression has been included as a national public health objective in Healthy People 2020.
Anyone can become affected by depression as it is a widespread and often chronic condition. However, there are certain factors shown to increase the prevalence of depression. The highest rates of depression are seen in, “females aged 40-59 years old, non-Hispanic black persons, and individuals living below the poverty level.” In addition, persons with less than a high school education, who have been previously married, unemployed individuals, and/or persons without health insurance reported more likely to meet depressive diagnostic criteria. Depression not only causes suffering and decreases in quality of life, but most often also impacts school, work, family and social life. In fact, approximately 80 percent of persons with depression reported functional impairment as a result of their condition. If you fall into one of these categories it is important to be aware of this condition in addition to common signs and symptoms present in individuals with depression.