Nearly 18.8 million Americans over age 18 suffer from major depression. Unfortunately, most people never seek treatment. Left undiagnosed and untreated, depression can worsen, lasting for years and causing untold suffering, and possibly even result in suicide.
Depression poses many dangers, burdening people with hopelessness and raising their risk of suicide. But in attempts to quell the pain, some turn to alcohol, drugs, and other harmful behaviors that endanger them even further, psychologists say.
“There is a strong relationship between depression and high-risk behaviors,” says Pamela Cantor, PhD, a psychologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School.
“Excessive drinking, drug abuse, unsafe sex, and cutting are all self-injurious behaviors that...
Depression is treatable. Treatment may include antidepressant medication, professional counseling such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, or a combination of the two. It sometimes takes several attempts to find the medication and type of counseling that work best for you. It can take one to three months for medications to take their full effect, although they often begin to show signs of working more quickly. You and your health professional will work together to find the right treatment.
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 doctor or a local suicide hotline immediately or 911.