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Depression in Special Situations

It's important to learn more about depression in special situations. These situations may include depression in men, depression in women, depression in the elderly, and treatment-resistant depression. In each of these special situations, depression may have different signs and symptoms, causes, and treatments.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a serious and pervasive mood disorder that causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. Depression can be mild to moderate with symptoms of apathy, little appetite, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, and low-grade fatigue. Or it can be major depression, with symptoms of depressed mood most of the day, diminished interest in daily activities, weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much), fatigue, feelings of guilt almost daily, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.

How Common Is Depression in Men?

Although men don't commonly recognize or acknowledge their own symptoms of depression, more than 6 million men in the U.S. suffer from clinical depression each year. Depression was once thought of as a "woman's disease" and linked to hormones and premenstrual syndrome. This stereotypical view still lingers and may be what keeps men with depression from recognizing it and seeking appropriate treatment.

The symptoms of clinical depression in men are similar to the symptoms of depression in women. But men tend to express the symptoms differently. The most common symptoms of depression in men include:

  • apathy
  • changes in appetite
  • fatigue
  • loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities,
  • low self-esteem
  • sexual problems, including reduced sex drive
  • sleep disturbances
  • suicidal thoughts

Women tend to be sad and emotional when they have depression. Men who are depressed, on the other hand, may be irritable, aggressive, and sometimes hostile.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Depression in Men.

Is Clinical Depression Common in Women?

Yes. Depression in women is very common. Between 10% and 25% of women will experience an episode of major or clinical depression at some point in their life. In fact, women are twice as likely to develop depression as men.

Depression in women differs from depression in men in several ways:

  • Depression in women may occur earlier, last longer, and be more likely to recur than depression in men.
  • In women, depression is more likely to be associated with stressful life events and be more sensitive to seasonal changes.
  • Women are more likely to experience guilty feelings and attempt suicide, although they actually kill themselves less often than men.
  • Depression in women is more likely to be associated with anxiety disorders -- especially panic and phobic symptoms -- and eating disorders.
  • Depressed women are less likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Depression in Women.

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