Monday, October 26, 2009

Depressed? You aren't alone.....

As someone who has been in some form of the mental health profession for 17 years, I frequently get comments and questions about my job. One of the most frequent comments I receive is in the vein of "I couldn't listen to people's problems/complaining all day." For me, I don't see myself as listening to problems all day and it is very rare that I have clients that incessantly complain. Truly. I am someone who, along with many others in mine and related fields, treats mental health disorders, which includes mild, moderate, and severe depression. Before you feel exempt, know that you have probably qualified to seek the services of a mental health professional at some point in your life. Anxiety and depression especially are VERY common in the good 'ol USA. I thought with this little blog, I would give out some general info on mental disorders, and specifically, depression. The following excerpt was taken directly from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website:

"Mental Disorders in America

Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.1 When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.2Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion — about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 — who suffer from a serious mental illness.1 In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for ages 15-44.3 Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for 2 or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity.1

In the U.S., mental disorders are diagnosed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV).4

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders include major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder. Statistics for 2008.

  • Approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder.1
  • The median age of onset for mood disorders is 30 years.5
  • Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders and substance abuse."
Depression is a cluster of symptoms that affect general arousal systems and impacts sleep, appetite, attention, motivation, mood, and energy. Depression can be a feeling. For example, it is a common feeling experienced after a loss. It is often not caused by one specific thing and it strikes all people in all walks of life. The depression I am talking about here though includes feelings (depression, sadness, irritability, and guilt), changes in sleep and appetite, lack of motivation and interest, inability to focus and concentrate, physical pain, loss of hope and self-confidence. It is not uncommon for one to feel suicidal (as a loss of hope is a symptom of depression, many experience a false reality that things won't improve and they find their despair intolerable). Please note that these feelings are more than false beliefs that one cheery friend can just talk them out of, it is how they experience their world. The very systems that get impacted by depression are the very ones that one often needs in place normally to seek treatment and/or healthy environments. This is often not the case in other conditions. It can therefore easily become a vicious cycle. Depression is a disorder than can be treated.

There is so much to depression, whether it is the varied types of treatment, research on its causes, the public response to depression or those that are depressed, etc. I figured I would just start the ball rolling with some general info and will follow up with more on depression. Stay tuned.

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