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Millions Of Americans Battle Major Depression But Don't Get The Help They Need

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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?


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, December 18.

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Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dallas Williams is a Producer for The Source at Texas Public Radio. With a degree in Mass Communication — Broadcast Media, Dallas brings a unique perspective and a passion to producing a live, call-talk show.