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    What Is Depression?

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    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 biological 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, potentially 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 or subtypes of depression including:

     

    Are There Other Types of Depression?

    Other types of depression that can occur include:

    • Double depression -- a condition that happens when a person with chronic, low-grade depression (dysthymia) experiences an episode of major depression.
    • Secondary depression -- a depression that develops after the development of a medical condition such as hypothyroidism, stroke, Parkinson's disease, or AIDS, or after a psychiatric problem such as schizophrenia, panic disorder, or bulimia.
    • Treatment-resistant depression -- a condition that doesn't respond to treatment with antidepressants, and may be longstanding or chronic. For chronic treatment-resistant depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is sometimes the treatment of choice depending on the nature and severity of symptoms.
    • Masked depression -- a depression that is hidden behind physical complaints for which no other medical cause can be found.

     

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