Learn More About Mental Illness

by Heather Loeb

Mental illness is more common than you think, affecting nearly 1 in 5 adults (46.6 million) in the U.S. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2017).

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental disorders, affecting 17 million adults in the U.S. MDD affects women more so than men, with a rate of 8.6-percent compared to 5.3-percent. A major depressive episode is when a person experiences a period of at least two weeks where they have depressed mood, loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities and also experience a problem with sleep, self worth, eating and energy.

A large number of adolescents (ages 12 to 17) suffer from MDD, about 3.3 million or 13-percent.

Depression can occur anytime in a person’s life but mostly it occurs in adulthood. Some people are more at risk than others to develop depression, such as those with a family history of depression. People who experience trauma, major life changes or extreme stress also can be affected by depression.

Signs/Symptoms of Depression include:

  • Persistant sad, anxious or empty mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches and pains without a clear physical cause that does not ease with treatment
  • (List provided by the National Institute of Mental Health)

This is not an exhaustive list and everyone is different. Please consult your doctor if you think you are experiencing depression.

Depression is a treatable illness. It can be hard to reach out for help, given the far-reaching stigma surrounding it. Please know you are not alone and there is help available.

If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal ideation, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or call 1-800-273-8255.