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Depression Affects 40 Million US Adults

Actor/comedian Robin Williams once said, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

Williams suffered from depression for many years before committing suicide in August 2014.

Nearly 40 million adults across the country are affected by depression, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Because of these statistics, the U.S. Preventative Task Force recommends all adults should complete a depression screening.

Salem Medical Center — in partnership with Legacy Treatment Services — offers depression screenings and other behavioral health services for adults 18 and older.

Known as an invisible disease, nearly 50,000 American adults suffering from depression committed suicide in 2019, according to the CDC.

In June 2018, both designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain committed suicide after living with depression for many years.

While depression may cause a person to feel hopeless, there is hope and many options to effectively treat the disease.

Are You Suffering from Clinical Depression?

If you think your low mood could be more than just sadness, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you often feel down, depressed, irritable, or hopeless?
  • Do you have little interest in activities you usually enjoy?
  • Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep?
  • Do you sleep too much?
  • Do you feel tired or lack energy?
  • Have you experienced poor appetite, weight loss or overeating?
  • Do you feel bad about yourself, feel like a failure, or feel that you have let you or your family down?
  • Do you have trouble concentrating on tasks such as school, work, reading or watching television?
  • Do you move or speak slowly?
  • Are you fidgety or restless?
  • Do you have thoughts that you would be better off dead or thoughts of hurting yourself?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you could be suffering from depression.

Q&A with Behavioral Health Director Catherine Meliniotis

People sometimes don’t realize they are suffering from clinical depression. Below, SMC Behavioral Health Director Catherine Meliniotis answers a few questions concerning depression.

What is depression?

Depression is often an invisible, yet very serious condition. It can affect the way a person thinks, feels, and acts on a daily basis. Different from normal sadness, depression can interfere with a person’s ability to experience or anticipate pleasure, and significantly interferes with daily life functions. Depression is persistent, and can last for weeks, months or years if not treated. Left untreated, depression can lead to significant impairment and other health-related issues. Depression can also lead to suicide.

Is depression considered a mental illness?

Yes. Clinical depression is considered a mental illness. However, when tended to, depression is treatable with medications and psychotherapy.

What are the causes of depression?

Depression can be caused by biochemistry, genetics, or lifestyle.

Nerve cells in the brain send and receive messages that control emotions and feelings with the help of neurotransmitters. Scientists believe that depression symptoms occur when some of these neurotransmitters including serotonin and norepinephrine are not delivered properly, causing an imbalance.

A family history of depression can put a person at greater risk for developing the disorder, but can occur with no genetic ties.

Lifestyle such as personality, life situations, alcohol or drug use, or chronic stress can all attribute to a depression diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Unlike sadness which can come and go, depression exhibits depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, lack of interest or pleasure in activities most of the day, nearly every day, changes in appetite that result in weight loss or gain, changes in sleeping patterns, loss of energy or increased fatigue, and restlessness or irritability, and feelings of anxiety. Additional symptoms can include feelings of worthlessness, helplessness or hopelessness, feelings of inappropriate guilt, difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts of death or attempts at suicide.

Are there different types of depression?

The most common depression disorders are Major Depression — the most common type; Dysthymia — a low-intensity mood disorder characterized by similar but less severe symptoms of major depression; Postpartum Depression — occurs after the birth of a baby; and Seasonal Affective Disorder — occurs during fall and winter and is likely due to lack of sunlight.

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