You may have found yourself having a difficult time getting motivated. Simple chores like grocery shopping, preparing a meal, getting to work on time seem impossible. Maybe your sleep is disturbed in some way, like having difficulty falling asleep, or waking up long before the alarm clock goes off. Perhaps you’ve lost or gained too much weight. Or maybe the loss of a friend or loved one still upsets you.
In the United States 6.6% of the population have experienced a clinical depression in the past year and it is estimated that between 18% and 22% of woman and 7% and 11% of men will suffer a clinical depression during their lifetime.
Our understanding of depression has increased over the past 20 years. We now know how disabling depression can be. In fact, research has shown that evidence exists that depression is a functional impairment comparable to major medical illnesses, including cancer and coronary heart disease. People with depression spend more time in bed (1.4 days per month) than people with lung disease (1.2 days per month), diabetes (1.15 days per month), or arthritis (0.75 days per month).
We now know that depression is a chronic, relapsing condition. Unless an individual receives proper treatment the depressed person can relapse into depression in the future.
There are two main approaches to treating depression – psychopharmacology, i.e. medication and psychotherapy. Anti-depressants can and do help, but they treat the symptoms, not the causes. When a person discontinues medication the symptoms generally return. Research has shown that psychotherapy is much more effective longterm.