It's normal for people to occasionally feel sad in response to life events or experiences, but being sad is not the same as having depression -- a serious but treatable mental illness that can have devastating effects if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Major depressive disorder is a potentially debilitating medical condition that can affect the way an individual thinks, feels and acts. It can provoke feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness. People with depression can feel apathetic, fatigued, or even have thoughts of suicide.
An estimated 7.1% of American adults and 13.3% of youth ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in 2017, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Of those adults, 35% did not receive treatment for their depression. Parents often have trouble spotting the warning signs.
Depression is most common in youth ages 18-25 and individuals belonging to two or more races. Women are twice as likely as men to have experienced a depressive episode.
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for mood disorders like depression. Causes and treatment can vary based on the individual. What are the risk factors? What are the options for treatment?
Can depression cause physical symptoms? Does depression present differently in adolescents and youth? Are there different types? Can it come and go? Are there triggers?
What are some signs a friend or family member could be struggling with major depression, and how can you best support them? What resources are available?
How do negative stereotypes and stigma add to the burden of depression?
- Dr. David Morilak, neuroscientist, director of the Center for Biomedical Neuroscience and endowed chair in the Department of Pharmacology at UT Health San Antonio
- Bebe Rodriguez, board member for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - South Texas Chapter
- Hannah Zeller, program manager for the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, December 18.