Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the world, affecting nearly 121 million people, according to the World Health Organization.  In any given year, nearly 5.8% of men and 9.5% of women will experience a depressive episode, although figures vary widely across different countries and ethnic groups. 

People with depression experience, on average, four depressive episodes during their lifetime, each lasting approximately 20 weeks.  Risk of depression is greatest within two to five years after the first incident.  Recovery usually occurs in gradual stages with 54% of people symptom-free at six months, 70% within one year, and 88% by five years.

Depression can take many forms. Unipolar depression typically results in feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and lethargy.  Those with bipolar disorder experience dramatic shifts in mood from exuberant highs to dangerously suicidal lows.  Seasonal affective disorder causes depressive feelings during colder months when natural daytime light is low. Postpartum depression occurs after pregnancy as a result of hormonal changes combined with the stress of new motherhood. Dysthymia is a low-grade depression that lasts a minimum of two years. 

Typical symptoms of depression include:


•difficulty focusing/concentrating/making decisions
•negative thoughts, self-talk and self-directed attention


•feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
•mood swings
•suicidal thoughts and plans


•weight loss or gain
•decreased sex drive
•insomnia or increased sleeping


•difficulty experiencing pleasure
•excessive guilt

The recommended treatment for depression and bipolar disorder includes a combination of therapy and medication, especially for those with severe symptoms and those who have a family history of either condition.  Non-medical interventions for mild to moderate depression alone may include exercise, meditation, foods with and supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, 5-HTP, SAMe, folic acid supplements, and St. John's Wort.  The efficacy of alternative treatments varies widely and may not work for all depressive patients.  Likewise, medication should not be taken alone without any other intervention.


Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

New Hope for People with BiPolar Disorder

The Mindful Way Through Depression

The Peace of Mind Prescription


Child and Adolescent BiPolar Foundation

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

International Foundation for Research and

Education on Depression

Mental Health America: Depression


Depression Screening

Depression Central: Major Depression

Experience Journal:  Pediatric Depression

Postpartum Support International

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