It is also very common. Major depression is a clinical syndrome that affects about 6.7% of the U.S. population over age 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Some estimate that major depression may be as high as 15%. Everybody at one point or another will feel sadness as a normal reaction to loss, grief, or injured self-esteem, but clinical depression, called "major depressive disorder" or "major depression" by doctors, is a serious medical illness that needs professional diagnosis and treatment.
If winter weather triggers carbohydrate cravings, you're not alone. Many people snack more on carbohydrate-containing foods in winter, sometimes in an unconscious effort to boost their mood, says Judith Wurtman, PhD, a former scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of The Serotonin PowerDiet.
How can you tell if your seasonal carbohydrate cravings are in the normal range or a possible symptom of winter depression?
Yes. Children are subject to the same factors that cause depression in adults. These include: A change in physical health, life events, heredity, or inheritance, environment, and chemical disturbance in the brain. It is estimated that 2.5% of children in the U.S. suffer from depression. In adolescents, it is estimated to be 4% to 8%.
No. Lack of sleep alone cannot cause depression, but it does play a role. Lack of sleep resulting from another medical illness or the presence of personal problems can intensify depression. Chronic inability to sleep is also an important clue that someone may be depressed.
Substance abuse. Street drugs or heavy alcohol use can cause mood changes that mimic depression or other mood disorders. In addition, some people with substance abuse problems also may have depression, bipolar disorder, or other mood problems even when they are not using mood-altering substances.
Being socially isolated or excluded from family, friends, or other social groups.