Depression: A Common Problem
Depression is on the rise. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health depression rates rose from 6.6 percent in 2005 to 7.3 percent in 2015. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030 depression will be the number one leading cause of the global burden of disease.
Not All Hope Is Lost
The rising prevalence of depression should not be a cause for despair, however, as there are some reasons to remain optimistic. One, with the rise of depression more attention is being paid to depression. This means that the public will become much more educated about depression and funding for depression research will rise. Two, and perhaps most importantly, depression is extremely treatable for those who seek help. This is different from most larger global problems where a solution often is not readily at hand. Third, treatment is often very successful as depression treatment enjoys the highest success rate compared to all mental illnesses. In fact, over 4/5 of people who seek help for depression will eventually feel better (source: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression).
Why Is Depression Rising?
Some people attribute the rise in social media to be the cause of the rise as keeping up with the Joneses becomes more and more important. Some people attribute the rise in depression to how busy people have gotten in the modern age. Others blame an overreliance on drugs and see them as a temporary fix being used for a longer term problem. Still others say that although people are now more connected than ever, they are now more lonely than ever and that this has caused the rise. Medical experts have attributed the rising rates of depression due to lifestyle changes where people are getting less sleep, less sunlight, eating more and exercising less. Although no one knows the exact cause, perhaps there is some truth in each explanation.
Depression Is Treatable But…
Depression is the most treatable mental illness but there is one caveat, the depressed person must seek help. Perhaps it is our pride but most people do not want to admit they need help. In the case of depression this is a recipe for disaster. In fact, trying to “go it alone” when dealing with depression increases the likelihood that the depressed person may experience even more problems like alcohol abuse or drug addiction. This, in turn, will lead to more and more depression and greater psychological problems.
Even in the event that a person does beat depression on his or her own there is a high likelihood that the depression will return. Having a support structure already in place in case of worsening depression might be critical to treatment. Those who combated it alone the first time will not have this support structure in place for when they really need it. Going it alone is a gamble and not worth the risk.
Depressed or Sad?
Some people might be wondering, “Well I have been feeling down, but am I really depressed?” This is an excellent question. In fact, life is full of sad events and being able to discern the difference between being sad and depressed may mean the difference between seeking treatment and not seeking treatment.
Sadness is usually a cause and effect type of situation. Something happens which causes someone to be sad. Then, when the cause is removed the sadness dissipates and eventually disappears. Depression is different. When a person is depressed he or she feels said about everything. In fact, depression lessens and even takes away the enjoyment of almost every situation. Think of sadness as the setting of the sun, it is soon over and the sun comes back out. With depression the sun never seems to come back out.
Hudson LCSW Group is a Westchester County counseling practice in White Plains, NY. We provide depression treatment and help children, teens and adults.