20 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Depression


1. About 20 million Americans experience depression yearly.

Of these, about ten million have major or clinical depression.

2. A quarter of all Americans will suffer a depressive episode at least once in their lives.

Perhaps it’s someone you know—if so, give them a hug. If you’re depressed, try to give yourself a hug.

3. More than 350 million people globally suffer from depression.

The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2030, depression will be second only to HIV/AIDS as a cause of medical disability.

4. Depression can be caused by several preexisting physical conditions.

Such conditions include naturally low serotonin levels, poor sleeping patterns, thyroid deficiencies, and—for women at least—a lack of Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.

5. Depression can also have several devastating physical effects.

Depressed people are more likely to suffer colds, heart attacks, chronic inflammation, headaches, sleep apnea, chronic pain, and osteoporosis. The cause-and-effect between disease and depression can be murky, though; often it’s unclear whether a person is depressed because of their disease or if they’ve developed a disease due to chronic depression.

6. Exercise and diet can curb depression.

Years of research suggest that exercise is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to lessen depression. Eating foods that are rich in tryptophan such as bananas and turkey can trigger the brain to produce the depression-lowering neurotransmitter serotonin. And the physical benefits of being hugged—which releases the “happy hormone” known as oxytocin—cannot be overemphasized. So go for a walk, eat some turkey, and get yourself some hugs!

7. Depression does not typically discriminate according to race or income…

People of all ethnicities and income levels are susceptible to depression.

8. …except it occurs twice as often in women than in men.

Some speculate that estrogen may play a role, while others theorize that society places extra psychological burdens on women. Over their lifetime, 20-26% of women will experience major depression compared to 8-12% of men.

9. Depression is often correlated with aging.

Older American adults kill themselves 50% more often than the nation as a whole. Depression is often linked to the drop in testosterone experienced by middle-aged men. Although an estimated six million older Americans suffer from depression, only about one in ten receive treatment for it.

10. There is a genetic link to depression.

Experts speculate that up to half of depression is linked to inherited genetic factors. If you have a close relative who’s experienced major depression, you are two or three times more likely to experience it yourself.

11. Family environment also plays a role.

Studies demonstrate that adults with a childhood history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse are far likelier to suffer from depression than people from stable and loving homes. It’s also been demonstrated that people who have trouble getting along with their siblings are also more prone to depression.

12. Sometimes the weather can trigger depression.

About five percent of Americans are said to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, almost always in the cold months. But one percent of those people experience summertime depression. Generally, though, depressed people experience worse symptoms on cold and cloudy days than on warm and sunny ones.

13. Addicts are more likely to be depressed than sober people.

It is estimated that up to a third of people with substance abuse problems also experience depression. It is speculated that depression affects the same brain areas that are involved in drug addiction.

14. Depression can literally shrink the brain.

According to a recent study at Yale University, a specific protein deficiency linked to depression can actually cause dendrites in the brain to shrink.

15. Depression is more common in cities than in rural areas.

One study concluded that city-dwellers are 39% more likely to experience mood disorders than people who live in the country.

16. Depression rates are higher in affluent countries than in poor ones.

Which tends to discredit the idea that money can buy happiness.

17. Depressed people may have a more realistic outlook on life than happy people—which is depressing.

The phrase “depressive realism” was coined to describe the demonstrated fact that optimistic people tend to overestimate their performance on tasks while depressed people assess their own performance more accurately.

18. Depression rates are increasing astronomically.

Nearly 10 times as many people today are diagnosed with major depression than in 1945. This may have something to do with the fact that there is less of a stigma surrounding depression. It may also have something to do with the fact that depression is being more commonly diagnosed. Or it may simply be that the world is 10 times more depressing now than it was in 1945.

19. One possible cause of skyrocketing depression rates is an overall breakdown in communities.

It has been observed that in small, insular, tight-knit communities such as the American Amish and the Kaluli tribe of New Guinea, depression is almost nonexistent. Much of modern society focuses on individualism, which apparently leads to more alienation and subsequent depression.

20. Depression rates tend to run higher among people in creative professions.

Famous people who’ve experienced depression include Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Jim Carrey, Harrison Ford, J. K. Rowling, Ludwig van Beethoven, Vincent van Gogh, Peter Tchaikovsky Ernest Hemingway, Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.