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What Is Depression?

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Is Childhood Depression Common?

Childhood depression is different from the normal "blues" and everyday emotions that occur as a child develops. If your child is sad, this does not necessarily mean he or she has significant depression. It's when the sadness becomes persistent -- day after day -- that depression may be an issue. Or, if your child has disruptive behavior that interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life, it may indicate that he or she has a depressive illness. 

Depression in Teens

It is common for teens to occasionally feel unhappy. However, when the unhappiness lasts for more than two weeks and the teen experiences other symptoms of depression, then he or she may be suffering from adolescent depression. Because as many as one in every 33 children and one in eight adolescents suffer with depression, talk to your doctor and find out if your teen may be depressed. There is effective treatment available to help teens move beyond depression as they grow older.

 

How Common Is Depression?

It is estimated that, by the year 2020, major depression will be second only to ischemic heart disease in terms of the leading causes of disability in the world. But people with depression sometimes fail to realize (or accept) that there is a physical cause to their depressed moods. As a result, they may search endlessly for external causes.

In the U.S., about 14.8 million adults suffer from major depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The suicide risk in people with this type of depression is the highest rate for any psychiatric condition. For people between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. Unfortunately, most people with clinical depression never seek treatment. Left undiagnosed and untreated, depression can worsen, lasting for years and causing untold suffering, and possibly suicide.

 

What Are the Warning Signs of Suicide?

Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very, very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) -- or the deaf hotline at 1-800-4889. Or contact a mental health professional immediately.

Warning signs of suicide include:

  • Thoughts or talk of death or suicide
  • Thoughts or talk of self-harm or harm to others
  • Aggressive behavior or impulsiveness

Previous suicide attempts increase the risk for future suicide attempts and completed suicide. All mention of suicide or violence must be taken seriously. If you intend or have a plan to commit suicide, go to the emergency room for immediate evaluation and treatment.

Are There Different Types of Depression?

There are a number of different types of depression including:

  • Major depression
  • Chronic depression (dysthymia)
  • Bipolar depression
  • Seasonal depression (SAD or seasonal affective disorder)
  • Psychotic depression
  • Postpartum depression
  • Substance-induced mood disorder (SIMD)

 

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