A constant sense of hopelessness and despair is a sign you may have major depression, also known as clinical depression.
With major depression, it may be difficult to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy friends and activities. Some people have clinical depression only once in their life, while others have it several times in a lifetime.
Did You Know?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive mental health services, including screening tests for depression and alcohol misuse, at no cost to you. Learn more.
Major depression can sometimes occur from one generation to the next in families, but may affect people with no family history of the illness.
What Is Major or Clinical Depression?
Most people feel sad or low at some point in their lives. But clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, sometimes particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships -- symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks. In addition, according to the DSM-5 -- a manual used to diagnose mental health conditions -- you may have other symptoms with major depression. Those symptoms might include:
Major depression affects about 6.7% of the U.S. population over age 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Overall, between 20% and 25% of adults may suffer an episode of major depression at some point during their lifetime.
Major depression also affects older adults, teens, and children, but frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated in these populations.
Are Women at Higher Risk for Major Depression?
Almost twice as many women as men have major or clinical depression; hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriage, and menopause, may increase the risk.
Other factors that boost the risk of clinical depression in women who are biologically vulnerable to it include increased stress at home or at work, balancing family life with career, and caring for an aging parent. Raising a child alone will also increase the risk.