Approximately 16 million adult Americans — roughly 7% of the U.S. population — experienced at least one episode of major depression last year, according to official reports from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Of the annual average of 41,000 deaths by suicide within the country, 90% are believed to be rooted in a mental illness such as depression.1
In the United States, according to federal law, private insurance companies must now provide coverage as fully to mental health conditions as they do to physical health. This is good news for those suffering from depression. In order to combat this emotionally crippling disease, screenings are also being encouraged for each patient.
Although not required, doctors who provide primary care are being encouraged to screen the mental health of their patients with a simple survey.2 Many who suffer from depression do not realize the seriousness of their condition and do not get proper medical help. The following information can help you or a loved one identify depression and get help with this debilitating illness.
Depression comes in many forms. Some of the most common include the following:
Major Depression presents itself in several occasions throughout a person’s life. These “episodes” make it difficult for the person suffering to regulate normal daily activities such as sleeping, eating, and studying.
Persistent Depressive Disorder is when major depression symptoms last for a period of 2 years or more.
Psychotic Depression is a term used for depression symptoms that are combined with psychotic features. A person struggling with psychotic depression may hear voices that do not exist and frequently feel detached from reality. He may also see things that are not real and hold to false, irrational and delusional beliefs. Psychotic Depression sufferers are more vulnerable to self harm or harming others than with other types of depression. Medications are available that regulate emotional behavior patterns while helping the patient maintain the most normal life possible.
Bipolar Disorder symptoms include periods of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major depression followed by periods of mania — extremely high moods or euphoria or hypomania irritability.
Some women experience Postpartum Depression after giving birth. Though it is normal to experience bodily changes, hormonal fluctuations and emotional ups and downs, postpartum depression involves more than that. In addition to feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for her child, a woman may lose her own desire to live. Postpartum Depression is more than the “baby blues,” and requires immediate medical attention. Through medication and behavioral therapies, women can find healing for this serious and sometimes life threatening form of depression.
Another common form of depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. During times of the year when days are short and sunlight scarce, those who suffer from SAD struggle with symptoms of depression, making even the simplest of daily tasks seem impossible. Seasonal affective disorder usually lifts in the summer and spring months when more light can be absorbed and the days are longer to include increased activity. Light therapy, medications and cognitive behavioral therapy can help reduce the symptoms of SAD in most patients.
Finding Help for Depression
Depression can be screened by primary care physicians and diagnosed in just one doctor visit. There is no need to feel any level of shame in getting treatment for depression. Doctors understand that depression is not a personal flaw, but rather a legitimate condition of the mind. Depression can be effectively treated with the right balance of medication and therapy.
If you or a loved one struggles with depression, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day. Our admissions coordinators are ready to answer your questions and help you find treatment. You are not alone.
2 Szabo, Liz. “Task Force: Doctors should screen all adults for depression.” USA Today. Web. 27 June 2017.